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Here’s How you Quickly Update Your Own Résumé (and be Proud of the Results)

Unexpectedly back on the job market and can’t wait on a professional résumé writer? Here are 12 steps you can take right now to update your own résumé and start confidently applying to jobs.

  1. Maximize space for content. Start by narrowing your margins. In MS Word it’s Layout/Margins/Narrow. Get rid of logos, references (even “references furnished on request”). You’re just wasting real estate that could be used for good bullet points.

  2. How many pages? Employers will most likely first see your résumé on a screen. If the content reads well, they will keep scrolling. Don’t short yourself by cramming everything on one page, but respect your audience with no more than 3 pages.

  3. Have a simple, professional contact email that includes your name. Time to retire deerhunterdude@ or partygurl69@

  4. Avoid a header. Just start with your contact info. Some applicant tracking systems have trouble parsing personal info from headers. Also no need to be redundant with your contact info on subsequent pages.

  5. Skip your street address to protect your privacy, but include your ZIP Code to be transparent about where you commute from, and so recruiters can find you when searching by radius. 

  6. Start with a professional summary NOT an objective. 2-3 sentences about who you are professionally and where you can add value. Google some examples.

  7. Tech skills? Lead with what you are best and what’s most relevant. Get rid of the old stuff you haven’t used in a decade. It can create a bias that you haven’t stayed with the times.

  8. Education, certifications and training; emphasize what relates to the job but don’t hide anything. If you’re going for a finance job but have a degree in history, you’re better off being honest than raising questions by only listing the school.

  9. For your bullet points at each job draw parallels to the job you are applying for. Create micro-stories around what you accomplished and how it relates to the job description. Focus on the results of your actions and how they helped the company flourish. Be more detailed on the past 3-5 years and summarize your older experience (and anything that’s not relevant to the job you’re going after).

  10. If you’ve been with one company for a long time, breakdown your promotions to show you were given more responsibility.

  11. Start a folder on your computer and customize your résumé for each job you apply for. “Save as” separate files including the company name. When you get called for an interview, you’ll know which résumé to bring with you.

  12. Side hustles and projects: If they relate to the job you’re going after, include them chronologically and describe what you built and/or accomplished.


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