Résumé Hacks: Upgrade your résumé in 30 minutes or less

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Let me ask you something: if a headhunter from your dream company called you tomorrow, would you be ready to take the next step?

Your résumé, also known as your curriculum vitae or CV in some parts of the world, is the number one way employers can assess your background and see if you are right for their business. Even if you are completely satisfied with your current job, you never know when a great opportunity will arise. It is therefore in your favour to get ahead of the game and be prepared.

Here are 3 easy hacks that can kick your résumé up a notch in 30 minutes or less.

1. Schedule regular updates

Perhaps you haven’t thought about your résumé because you are happy in your job or you were promoted and you think your career will progress at the same pace within the organization. While this is quite normal, you don’t want to wait until you are in a rush and just slap on what pops into your head in the moment. In your haste you could skip over responsibilities you perform less frequently or worse – send a résumé that has typos or spelling mistakes.

Think of updating your résumé as changing the oil in your car or a routine check-up at the doctor: it’s scheduled maintenance to ensure everything runs smoothly. Depending on your field or position level, once every 6 months to once a year is sufficiently frequent to ensure that you are including current tasks you have taken on or projects you’ve completed. Done regularly, it’s a quick and easy step that ensures your résumé is ready to go when opportunity knocks.

2. Refresh the layout

Whether it’s getting a cut and colour at the salon, redecorating a room in your house or getting the latest tech gadget, there is something to be said about things that feel new and fresh. When was the last time you looked at your résumé layout that way?

Clear and attractive documents are always a mark of professionalism. Believe it or not, many of the hiring managers I worked with in Accounting, Finance and IT have dismissed applicants over poorly presented résumés. Even in these fields where one would think analytical or technical capabilities would take precedence over style, it came down to a judgement on professionalism. Don’t let this happen to you.

Microsoft Word has countless downloadable templates to suit all tastes that are simple to use. Choose one that you feel represents you well and off you go!

In a creative field? An stylized résumé layout is a must. Align your résumé to have a similar look and feel as your portfolio and present them as a cohesive body of work instead of separate documents.

3. Qualified revision

Your best friend, spouse or family member might be the most easily accessible reviewers, but are they the most qualified? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but your reviewer(s) should be looking at the following:

  • Grammar, spelling and typos
  • Visual layout (as mentioned above, but also includes alignment, spacing etc.)
  • Using the correct terminology and avoiding jargon
  • Length and relevance of content

Knowing this, if it’s still your best friend, spouse or family member, great. If not, give some reflection as to who can give you the constructive feedback you need to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward.

A word of caution: keeping your résumé up to date is a professional step you are taking to be prepared should a golden opportunity arise. However, to some, it could appear as though you are actively seeking new employment. I would recommend avoiding current co-workers, even if the trust level is high (you never know how this could affect you if things turn sour) and giving serious thought to asking someone in your immediate surroundings who will expect immediate action or worry excessively about your work situation.

I hope these quick tips can help you to prepare in case an amazing opportunity lands in your inbox or if you have a really compelling call with a headhunter. As they say, luck favours the prepared.