When you already have a resume, at a certain point you’re faced with a dilemma: Should I update my existing resume, or is it time to completely reimagine it?
This guide will help give you direction to help you decide when it’s time to refresh — and when it’s time to revamp it entirely.
When you’ve got a great resume — especially one created by a professional resume writer — it can be difficult to decide to throw it out and start over again. But even the best formats can become outdated as technology changes. And what worked in one profession may not be appropriate in another. But how do you know when it’s time to refresh — or start fresh?
Here are some questions to help you decide if it’s time to throw out your resume:
How long ago was your resume created?
- If your resume was created within the last year to 18 months, and you’re seeking a similar role to your current position, the answer is easy: Update your existing document.
- If the resume was created 18 months ago up to 3 years ago, and you’re seeking a similar role, the right answer is probably to update the existing resume.
- The more difficult choice is if the resume was created between 3-and 5 years ago. In that case, examine the resume format. If the structure is still modern in appearance, and adding the new information doesn’t substantially affect the format, a refresh is most likely the right choice.
- If the resume was created more than five years ago, 99 times out of 100, the right answer is to start over. Trends change — for example, the use of color on resumes, or removing physical addresses. Neither of those things alone makes a document look outdated, but a fresh format can make the resume even more effective.
How long ago was your resume last updated?
- If your resume was updated in the last 12 months, a refresh is probably appropriate. There probably isn’t a whole lot that has changed in terms of format or technology.
- Has it been up to three years since your most recent update? The answer whether to refresh or start fresh will depend. Like with a new resume, consider whether the format is still relevant and whether the new content you’re adding will fit into the existing structure.
- If it’s been more than three years since your resume was last updated, consider an overhaul. A resume that was created three years ago will often be substantially more modern in content and appearance than one that was simply updated three years ago. Thus, starting fresh is probably the right approach.
Are you seeking a new role in the same profession, or are you changing professions?
- If you are pursuing a new role in a different field, whether to refresh or start fresh depends on if the industry you are targeting has different standards for resumes than your current industry. If you are a sales representative for a creative company (a children’s toy manufacturer, for example) and you’re pursuing a sales representative position in the financial services industry, you may want to take a fresh approach to your resume’s format and appearance. If, however, you’re an accountant for a large school district and you’re seeking an accounting position for a midsize private company, you may be able to keep the same content and format.
- If you are changing careers entirely, you will want to start fresh. You can’t use the same resume for substantially different positions. If you’re a teacher and you want to pursue a role in outside sales, your education-focused resume probably won’t work. If you’re a former trial lawyer who is seeking a role in nonprofit administration, you’ll want a new format that showcases your transferable skills.
- There’s a middle ground. If you’re pursuing a similar career, but not exactly, you may be able to retarget your existing resume without starting entirely from scratch. In this situation, rely on your resume writer to guide you to the right path.
If you still need help deciding what to do about your resume, schedule an Activate Your Resume Review session with Madelyn.
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