This post comes courtesy of greyzone’s Resume Writer, Beth Kujawski.
Opportunities can surface when you least expect them.
Recently, I was chatting with someone who said, “A week ago, I wasn’t looking for a job.”
He has seniority. His job pays well. It’s near his home. He works for a large company. He has job security. His bosses appreciate that he steps up and solves problems and makes them look good.
And yet, along came an opportunity that was too interesting to not pursue. He applied through an online form on a Friday. He received a call the following Monday to come in for an interview Tuesday.
He has a unique combination of skills and a wide base of knowledge. He’s a very attractive candidate.
But his résumé hadn’t been updated in years. The process was moving quickly and he had other commitments to tend to, so he didn’t have time to make substantive changes.
He asked me what he should be sure to address on his résumé in the bit of time he had available before his interview.
What I shared with him wasn’t specific to his situation. If you haven’t touched your résumé in years and an opportunity lands in your lap, there are quick and easy things you can do to better your chances of getting sorted into the “Yes” pile.
- Proofread. If you have to get your résumé into the hands of someone within hours, if you have time for nothing else, proofread it. If you’re thinking, I’ve already proofread my résumé. I don’t need to proofread it again, proofread it again. Read it out loud to yourself. Don’t rush. It will only take a few minutes to read through the whole document. Read it from beginning to end and then read it from end to beginning. You may be surprised to find that you’ve been missing a “to” or an “a” all along. You’re so familiar with the doc, you may have missed it. But someone reading it for the first time will notice a mistake.
- Review the dates. If you’ve been using months and years, you can nix the months. Just years is fine. The look is cleaner and you’ll minimize small gaps in employment between roles. Also, make sure the chronology is chronological on the page. Dates can contain typos, too.
- Check the font. There should be only one font in the document. But if you’ve cut and pasted or have changed fonts over time, you may have introduced another typeface. Also, make sure that the point sizes are consistent throughout. All the body copy in your summary paragraph and bullet points should be the same size, for instance. Bump up the size a couple points for section headers but make sure those are consistent, too.
- Fix the formatting. Sometimes Word can be challenging, especially if you’re not a frequent user, but do your best to make the text tidy. Make the spacing between bullet points consistent. Edit your phrasing to eliminate single syllables or words that break onto new lines. Likewise, tweak the text as necessary so a bullet point at the bottom of Page 1 doesn’t break onto the top of Page 2.
- Add a header. Speaking of the top of Page 2, add a header with your name, email, and phone number. Yep, the same information that appears at the top of Page 1. No need to use Word’s header function if you’re not versed in formatting. Just a line of text — and some tabs or spacing — will do. Most submissions are electronic, it’s true, but employers still print out résumés for ease of review. If pages get jumbled, they’ll be able to match yours again easily.
If you have a bit of time to get your résumé into the hands of the person hiring and you’re committed to the process of updating your doc, résumé professionals – such as greyzone – often offer rush services. For some clients, we’ve condensed the whole process into less than 72 hours. For others, we’ve taken a two-step approach: a one-day turnaround that focused on expanding key accomplishments and formatting the résumé to make it more polished, then revisiting the process a bit later to update the doc more fully so it’s current and easier to maintain as their new role progresses.
Clients often ask what’s new in résumés. While I offer some suggestions for updates, a good story well told and presented professionally is always the best bet. Résumés aren’t like fashion. Hemlines may change from season to season. Résumé formats don’t.
For more tips, check out greyzone’s other Résumé blogs…Mine Your Memory to Write a Stellar Résumé, Create a Resume That Works! and You have 7 Seconds to Turn Your Resume from a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’.