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4 Resume Writing Steps to Create a Killer Resume

New Year, New Career

Updating your resume is as easy as trim, insert, change, proofread. We’ve got all the details. [TWEET]

Was updating your resume one of your New Year’s resolutions? Jan. 1 has come and gone. If this item is still on your to-do list, now’s the time to take action with the proper resume writing steps. Don’t let another day, let alone another year, pass without refreshing your resume. Below are some resume tips on how to edit your resume to further your career in the new year:

Trim

While it may be your inclination to add more experience and details, it’s important to cut back, too. Before you incorporate additional information to your current and latest role, take some time to review your previous positions for outdated work experience and accomplishments.

As difficult as it may be to remove early achievements that you’re proud of, hiring managers generally recommend maintaining only the previous 10 to 15 years of work experience on your resume. Older work history is often not relevant unless you want to return to a previous career. And, it can sometimes even work against you by pointing to age or robbing you of space to focus on current accomplishments. However, when updating your resume, you can always make a note of previous experience at the bottom of the work history section.

According to Monster, “Other expendable items include obsolete technology and your high school diploma once you've earned a college degree.” You’ll also want to remove or replace details that aren’t necessarily aligned with your current professional goals. For example, a sales associate that has been promoted to management might consider replacing older individual quota attainment figures with their team’s most recent accomplishments.

Review the length of your resume, too. While it’s not necessary to trim your resume down to one page, it’s important to consider that hiring managers typically only take six seconds to review a resume before making a decision to keep it or toss it. That means a shorter resume – two pages or less – can have a greater impact. According to PC Magazine, “In many fields, a one-page resume showing only your highlights is more than fine—it's preferred.”

Click on the following link to learn more about choosing the right resume length.

Insert

Once you’ve removed irrelevant details from past jobs, update your resume with new information that parallels your career goals. Consider certifications, trainings, awards, and accomplishments you received within the past year. Don’t forget to add new skills; often these keywords in your field help your resume stand out from the rest when pre-screened by applicant tracking systems (ATS). If you’ve taken on increased responsibilities at your current job, one of the crucual resume writing steps is to make sure you update the language to reflect your latest accomplishments in the position.

As you add these new details, you should also remove less relevant information from your current position. USA Today recommends using “no more than 6-7 bullet points for any given position. If you do? Cut and condense. No matter how long you’ve been in a job or how good your bullets are, the recruiter just isn’t going to get through them.” It’s also important to remember that your most recent position deserves the most attention. Older positions shouldn’t have as many bullet points.

Another great resume tip from USA Today: “Go through your bullet points, and add as many numbers and percentages as you can to quantify your work. How many people were impacted? By what percentage did you exceed your goals?” Quantifiable achievements help you stand out.

Change

When updating your resume, keep in mind that resume styles change often. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve updated the format of your resume, it’s probably time for a makeover. If you’re still using an objective, consider modifying your resume to incorporate a “Professional Summary” or “Qualifications” section instead. As stated in CareerBuilder, “The difference between the two is that objective statements talk about what you want in a job; professional summaries recap your job-seeker “brand” and explain why you’re the right fit for the position in question. Since this is usually the first thing hiring managers will read on your resume, you want to make sure it grabs their attention and makes them want to learn more about your skills and qualifications.”

You might also want to incorporate an “Areas of Expertise” or “Core Competencies” section that sums up your most important skills. This section helps boost your keyword count, which can often mean the difference between your resume landing on a hiring manager’s desk or not. As for your work experience, unless you’re drafting a CV – as required in certain fields and overseas – try to avoid using paragraphs for anything other than a brief overview of your responsibilities. Any – and all – accomplishments should be bulleted to ensure it is quick and easy for a hiring manager to scan.

In the “Education” section, it’s no longer required to include your graduation date, GPA, honors, or activities unless it’s recent. It’s also outdated to include a line that reads “References Available Upon Request.” Hiring managers already know you’ll provide references when asked.

As you take these resume writing steps, leave a good amount of white space to separate the sections. Also, use simple and consistent fonts and sizes throughout the document to give it a cleaner look. This is not only ideal because it’s easier on the eye, but it’s also critical to pass ATS screenings.

Proofread

As always, when you are updating your resume, you run the risk of inserting errors. So, before you submit any resume, take some time to proofread, proofread, and proofread! Then ask a friend to give it a read. Look for formatting inconsistencies such as different bullet points, fonts, and sizes. And watch out for incorrect dates, titles, or details. It’s the little things that can cost you that job!

As Monster points out, “you should refresh your resume throughout the year, not just at the beginning” to make sure it’s accurate and updated. But, more importantly, because you never know when you’ll need it.

Looking for a new career in the New Year? Let us help!

Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!