Thursday Tips: Readying Your Resume

Categories: Career, Hacking Life


Even if you’re completely happy in your current job, it makes sense to keep your resume up to date. You never know when you might stumble upon your dream job — or, in this economy, have to deal with a nightmarish downsizing. Here are a few tips for readying your resume:

1.) Update your focus. When was the last time you looked at your own resume? Chances are, it’s tailored for the job you already have. Do you want to stay in the field you’re in right now, or do you have other skills you should highlight? Either way, make sure that your most-recent experience is at the top of the page.

2.) Make it email-friendly. Nowadays, companies don’t necessarily want to wait for the postal service. Paper is proper, of course, but make sure you have your resume ready in an easy-to-email format as well. It’s not hard to do: Eliminate the graphic elements that look so good in print and stick with plain text, in a clear font, and use 12-point type. (Also, some people shy away from opening attachments, so copy and paste the text into the body of your email.)

3.) Make it active. Instead of listing your responsibilities, list your achievements. Mention specific projects and goals that you met. As the Penelope Trunk points out on, “Anyone can do a job. Achievements show you did the job well.”

4.) Keep it short. Remember that you’re pitching an idea to a busy person, and that idea is “Hire me!” and that person is really, really busy. If a prospective employer has to turn the page to read the rest of your resume, chances are that he or she isn’t going to bother reading the rest of your resume. Keep it to a single page.

5.) Rethink your references. You don’t have to put your contacts on your resume — and you don’t even have to include “references on request” because, really, everyone assumes they are — but you should take the time to get in touch with your references and make sure they’re still willing to vouch for you. Do they prefer phone calls or emails? Do you have their correct titles and contact information? Is their input still relevant to the jobs you’re seeking?

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3 comments so far...

  • I’ve recently been looking to change positions in my career and had always kept my resume short until a recruiter recently reviewed my resume and told me that it needed to be longer and more detailed. It went from 2 pages to 6 pages.

    Confused in Arkansas.

    Amy  |  May 8th, 2008 at 9:21 am

  • Good point. I’m unlikely to be downsized out of a job (I teach), but downsizing makes my job tougher and the workload heavier every year. I really ought to redo my resume with skills in mind.

    Daisy  |  May 10th, 2008 at 11:05 am

  • Hi…I’m one of the co-founders of the [email protected] Network ( and I’ll offer two tips and a resource. Make sure your resume has a summary statement at the top–a brief paragraph that states who you are and the skills and experiences you have to offer. (”Objectives” at the top of resumes are outdated!) Second, it’s no longer true that resumes must be kept to one page–but they should be no more than two pages! Check out our very useful, but also tongue in cheek 10-minute podcast, “Is Your Resume Dressed for Success?”

    Kathryn Sollmann  |  June 11th, 2008 at 10:15 pm