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Resume Reboot - Clean up Your Resume in Five Steps

Looking to upgrade your current job? Dust off your old resume and tack on your most recent job, new skills, and training, but without editing or deleting old information, your resume becomes a hodgepodge of outdated accomplishments, awards, and skills.

You may think all that experience makes you seem impressive—and it can, to a degree—but in truth, you're only going to give hiring managers a headache. Good luck getting past step one of the screening process. Focus. It's time to declutter your resume.

Step 1: Narrow your career goal

Tom Kelly, a senior corporate recruiter in Cincinnati, says many job seekers' biggest problem is not being sure of what they want to do, adding that it's particularly an issue for those changing careers. "The resume starts to lose focus," he says. "A whole bunch of extra stuff ends up in it in order to try to appeal to a wider range of employers or industries." Kelly recommends limiting your resume's focus or creating more than one version if you have multiple target jobs. "It's best to declutter the resume by targeting one to three industries, max," Kelly says. This makes it easier to consolidate down to relevant content.

Step 2: Condense your opening summary

Les Gore, the managing partner of Executive Search International, recommends including a qualifications summary near the top of your resume. "Tell me a little about your background," he says. "Don't go overboard, and don't overdo the selling. Be succinct and descriptive in terms of your experience and collective knowledge." And forget about crafting lofty mission statements or "me-focused" resume objectives that talk about wanting a fulfilling career with opportunity for growth, advises Harvey Band, former managing partner of recruiting firm Band & Gainey Associates. "You're wasting page space with that, and you're wasting your time and mine," he says. "Use the top third of the page to communicate your most recent experience and your most impressive accomplishments. Get my attention. Then I'll keep reading."

Step 3: Edit work experience

Your resume's work experience section should provide an overview of your career chronology and a few highlights of key accomplishments for your most recent work experience. For professionals on an established career track, this may mean summarizing experience more than 10 to 15 years old into an "early career" section. "I like to see summaries of earlier careers versus long, detailed explanations," says Kelly, who recommends job seekers provide brief, one-line descriptions of earlier positions. "You don't have to list every job that you've had out of college on your resume." Gore agrees. "Often, I see way too much information on responsibilities and not enough on the accomplishments," says Gore, who reviews hundreds of resumes each month. Although he finds it helpful for candidates to provide a brief overview of the range of their responsibilities, Gore recommends these details be summarized in just a few sentences. When trying to weed accomplishments for space reasons, think numbers. "Take a hard look at what you're saying," Band says. "If you can't back it up with numbers or percentages or quantify it in some other way, then cut it." Gore also likes the quantitative approach, as does Kelly, who suggests quantified statements have more value to an employer than more general, nonquantified accomplishments.

Step 4: Consolidate education

The education section is another area where you can gain space when updating your resume. Although detailed information about internships, courses, academic honors and extracurricular activities can be important for new or recent graduates, professionals with four or more years of experience can omit or greatly condense this information, says Kelly.

Step 5: Select your skills

Band says if your resume skills section resembles a laundry list of random terms, you need to do some serious editing. "The best resumes are custom-created for a specific opportunity," he says. "If you're targeting your resume, then you don't need to try to throw in every single skill set that you think might be important." And now's a good time to dump outdated technology, too. "Fortran, Cobol, and other outdated computer programs need to go," says Kelly. Not only can you gain some valuable space, but you'll also avoid coming across as a dinosaur.

Think like an employer

Throughout each step of the resume-decluttering process, Band advises candidates to address the three key questions employers want your resume to answer: What can you do for me? What have you done before? Can you do it for me again?

Put some polish on it

Once you've decluttered your resume, it's time to take it a step further and smooth out any wrinkles that remain. Need some help? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. The experts at Monster can help you strengthen your resume (and get rid of any remaining weak distractions) so that hiring managers sit up and take notice.

always proof it, then proof again

A good rule-of-thumb for any update on your resume is make sure you have someone proof it. Then, proof it again. It's always good to have someone else besides yourself proof your resume. If you want to provide a proper first impression, your resume will have no errors. If you would like more resources on how to make sure your resume is up to par, visit our team at Career Connections in Ocean Springs. They will happy to support you. They also provide a network of job openings across the MS Gulf Coast.

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