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Cady is a staff writer here at The Hudsucker. She is an English major and Writing minor at Grand Valley State University. Her dream is to be a novelist or to work for a publishing company. She enjoys reading, traveling, and watching Boy Meets World, The Voice and Back to the Future. Follow her on Twitter as @cadyelizabeth9

How to Update Your Resume

It can feel like the job market is a little tough to break into these days. It may seem like no one is hiring, especially if you’re looking  in a career that typically has limited openings. There really are job opportunities everywhere if you know where to look. Online job ads, signs and billboards, and even walking into a potential employer and asking about jobs the old fashioned way are all good places to start.

No matter how you stumble upon a job possibility, you’ll almost always need show off your resume before you’re  hired. Having a well-written and thorough resume is a great way to represent yourself to potential employers and prove to them exactly why you’re the best person for the job.

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Whether you’re creating a resume for the first time or are looking to give your current one a tune-up, here are some tips to make sure yours will help you land your dream job:

Don’t disregard any minor skills you may have. Your skills section is an incredibly important area of your resume. This is where you’d put specific skills you’ve learned in your college classes pertaining to your degree (if applicable) or things you’ve learned while on the job. Are there any computer programs you’re well versed in that you think might be of interest to an employer? Excel? Photoshop? InDesign? What about special skills such as giving presentations, writing proposals, or proficiency on any job-specific machinery or tools? Think of this section as an area to prove how qualified you are and let those reading your resume know that you’re able to learn and catch on to important skills for jobs.

Unless you’re fresh out of high school or did something particularly outstanding in those four years, take those points off your resume. Employers like to see what you’ve been up to recently that merits considering you for a job. So if you’re way far out from high school graduation, relying on high school extra-curricular activities to beef up your resume may cause the employer to wonder why you haven’t done anything of note more recently. Of course this doesn’t apply to people still in high school or those applying for their first jobs out of high school. No matter where you are in life, it’s best to focus on your recent achievements to prove to potential employers that you’ve been doing relevant things in recent years that may be beneficial to their company.

Make sure your references are up-to-date. It’s best to use references who you have had contact with within the past couple of years so that if an employer actually calls one of them, they’ll remember you enough to say something good about you. If you need some more recent references or you don’t currently have any, professors, supervisors, co-workers, or anyone who knows you in a professional setting are a great place to start. Be sure to get someone’s permission before adding them to your reference list.

Check your resume for any errors before sending it out. This seems like common sense, but sometimes it can be really hard to catch every little spelling mistake or misplaced punctuation mark. As a resume is often the first impression a potential employer may have of you, it’s important to be sure the document is error-free. It helps to have someone else look through it for you because a fresh pair of eyes may pick up on something you’ve missed. If two people are equally qualified for a position, but one person has a resume riddled with spelling errors or grammar mistakes, it’s pretty likely the job will go to the person whose resume was thoroughly edited.

Format your resume carefully. A resume that stands out from the rest of the pile may work in your favor. However, there’s a difference between standing out in a good way and standing out in a bad way. When trying to create a format that looks different from the rest, the tendency is for the document may become difficult to read or too over-the-top. Remember that this is a professional document. It’s okay to experiment with spacing, alignment, fonts, or divider marks when creating your resume, but be sure to keep in mind that the purpose of a resume is to lay out your qualifications without any distractions so that the potential employer can scan it quickly and know everything they need to know about you professionally. Fonts that are overly decorative might be hard to read and using different alignment schemes in your resume can be confusing. When in doubt, it’s best to keep it simple.

Once you create a good resume foundation, it will be easy to add to it when you gain experience or revamp whenever you’re ready for a change. 

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One Comment on “How to Update Your Resume”

  1. johnlindauer December 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Nice article with good tips! In addition to all the pointers in this article, Job seekers also need to customize each resume that is sent out. Long gone are the days of having one, solitary resume to represent all your skills, interests, etc. Use language from the job description to tailor your resume for the position and be sure to include key words throughout your resume so automated search tools locate your resume.

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