Refresh your resume in 5 steps (while employed)

It never hurts to freshen up your resume with new achievements and an eye toward the future of your career, especially while employed. Shifting technology makes what to include on your resume even more tricky. Do you include an objective? What about your LinkedIn profile? How do you make your resume less boring?

Print out your resume and get your red pen ready. A hard copy lets you see details you might otherwise pass over. Here’s what you need to do to liven your resume up:

1. Keep the format simple

Oddly formatted resumes are the bane of hiring managers’ existences. The creative colors, spacing, and various fonts become an eyesore, making you stand out in a different way than what you intended. Saving the file as a PDF keeps the data from warping when opened in different software.

Keep the format simple and intuitive for others to navigate. A sans serif font is easiest on the eyes, and don’t go crazy with bold, italicizing and underlining. Balance white space with content. Information on your resume should be quick and easy to locate, not give you a headache.

Save the creative design for the creatives. If you’re a designer or creative, consider designing an infographic resume to let your resume showcase your skills in a sensible and helpful way. Your resume should easy to peruse and relevant to the job role and industry.

2. Make cuts

You’d be surprised about what you don’t need in a resume. You won’t be surprised, though, to know that managers are skimming for required details that categorize you according to assumption rather than talent. Try these tips:

  • If you’re not a new graduate, eliminate the year of graduation. Cutting the date lets them measure your merit while adding up years.
  • Take out “References available upon request.” That’s obvious.
  • Delete soft skills. Save job intricacies for the interview, and list the measurable achievements.
  • Leave out high school and college accomplishments if it was years ago. Focus on now.
  • Goodbye, Objective section! That detail is for your cover letter.
  • Consider deleting your address. Most of the time, that’s added to a database as you apply, or is filled out during paperwork. Some managers may assume you can’t handle the commute. A telephone and email address is enough.

Include relevant social media and professional links in your resume. Does your industry require you to network and recruit new business and professionals? Does your role deal with marketing or influencing, especially as an industry expert?

Conveniently link hiring managers right to the information they need in one resource. List your Twitter, LinkedIn, blog and new digital publications. Use hyperlinks with relevant text, instead of lengthy URLs, and only use when appropriate.

4. Engage with active verbs

Resumes are polluted with passive word choices, especially when it comes to overused verbs. You don’t want your resume to sound like a life coach giving a TED talk while jumping out of a plane. However, your resume showcases your talents and how you performed within your job role. Your word choices can disempower you. Use active verbs.

Be precise, accurate and engage with compelling verb choices. Ditch these terms: “led,” “helped,” “handled,” “worked” and “responsible for.” Imagine your verbs as the pull back on an arrow before hitting the target — the force and energy required to snag the job. Avoid clichés, such as “go-getter.”

Did you lead a project? Try “chaired,” “headed,” “executed” or “coordinated.” Had a vision come to life? Try “devised,” “launched,” “pioneered” or “spearheaded.” Save the company budget? Try “diagnosed,” “deducted,” “consolidated” or “conserved.” Active verbs don’t have to be flashy to catch attention.

5. Use keywords to your advantage

Technology has made the hiring process easier for management, by allowing software to scan resumes for details that match the job description. Use keywords to your advantage by placing them, where relevant, in your resume.

Do you have a copy of your job description? Look up alternative names for your role (or desired role), and analyze what keywords are used. Don’t lie and don’t copy the job description word for word. Yet, realize that your resume isn’t likely getting a first pass by a human being. Don’t leave out specific software, years of experience and desired qualifications that are listed if you have those.

You’ll also find specific language with strong word choices unique to that industry and described in ways you may have not considered. Your cover letter and interview will also benefit from this knowledge. This strategy is particularly helpful when analyzing job descriptions for a role that you wish to grow into as your career develops. Start tailoring your resume now!

Trends in what makes a proper resume shift on the whims of manager preferences, but a little common sense maintains certain rules. Simplicity is key, even in an age of developing technology. Focus on precision, hard numbers and active voice when sharing your achievements on your resume. Just a few changes will refresh your resume and give it the pep needed to reach for your career goals.

This article first appeared on YourCoffeeBreak.