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A Lesson in Updating Your Resume for Job-Seeking Success

Nowadays, there's more to updating your resume than your work experience

(Image: ThinkStock)

By 40, I thought I’d eaten every crumb of humble pie ever baked. Try on a bathing suit in front of a three-way mirror in a too-bright dressing room? Check.

Expect the cute grinning tourist is going to ask you out only to have him ask for directions, then bow slightly and say, “Thank you, ma’am?” Been there.

Bump into your first love with his pretty size-two wife three weeks after giving birth looking as if you still have two weeks to go? Hello!

Honestly, I wasn’t much for working out at the gym but exercises in humility? I was a pro! So when, after 15 years as a journalist, the majority of which were at one company, I had to update my resume, I thought, “No biggie. I got this. Bring it!”

After all, I used to write a career management column. Matter of fact, I created the damn column! I’d interviewed enough career counselors, placement officers, executive recruiters, and human resources managers over the years to know a thing or 20 about writing a resume. So I was unfazed. But then, I had to actually do it. Talk about a wake-up call!

First, I needed a reality check on the rules. Some suggest there no longer are any, but that’s not true. The fact is, there are new rules, but they leave lots of room for interpretation. The most important is that the last time I did a resume it was really just to provide contact info and a job history, however, in today’s era of Brand You, your resume is your primary marketing tool. Everything about it should be fashioned with the purpose of creating interest in you, exciting employers about you, convincing them that they simply must meet you!

Research shows that one in 200 resumes gets that call for an interview and most are scanned (not read) in 20-30 seconds (yes, seconds) in a first round. Because this process will most likely take place on a screen, not that perfect eggshell stationary I took such care in selecting way back when, forget how many pages your resume is and focus heavily on what’s above the fold. That’s your billboard. Make it work for you.

Formatting should be clean but interesting; “hot buttons,” like great titles, accomplishments and strengths should pop out. Essentially, you’re going for a two-pronged approach. Above the fold you want to say, Here’s who I am and what I’m best at! Below lies the proof that I’m damn good.

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  • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

    This is excellent! And I feel the same way! OMG! This even applies to those who’ve been off the job seeking market for as little as the past 3 to 5 years. Excellent tips!