You never know when a tap on the shoulder is going to come, either in the form of a pink slip or a new career opportunity. In either case, it is imperative that your resume is up to date.
Even while you’re gainfully employed, review your resume regularly, paying particular attention to these three areas:
1. Contact information
Provide a personal phone number (many people make the mistake of leaving this out), mailing address and email address. Never use contact information from your current position. Your current employer doesn’t want you using work time and resources for career management, and prospective employers don’t want to think you’ll be doing that when you work for them.
Also provide links to your profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and your personal blog, website, online portfolio and Skype address. For more tips, see my social media strategies for executives.
2. Personal brand
Be sure your resume reinforces your personal brand. Consider the overall look and feel, font choice and sizes, and the language and tone. Be sure to convey your unique promise of value. What differentiates you from others? What are your special areas of expertise?
Use the same font and heading styles in your resume, cover letter and any other marketing materials. Hint: Sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri are easiest to read both on screen and in print.
For more branding tips, see my top five branding mistakes to avoid during a job search.
3. Projective section
This is my own term for the top third of the page, where you seduce the reader to keep reading. It’s a combination of what used to be known as the Profile and Objective sections.
For a compelling Projective section, answer these four questions:
- What ONE WORD best describes you? Steer clear of the overused, cliché terms like passionate or driven. Choose a powerful, resonating word that will stand out and be memorable. Then be prepared to defend it in the interview with stories, examples and specific accomplishments.
- Describe your leadership style. We all lead differently. How do you make sure things get done? How do you help team members grow and develop? How do you make tough decisions? How do you manage your time and priorities?
- Describe your communication style. How do you cope with different personality types? How do you get your own point across while also understanding and accommodating another person’s point of view? How do you manage high-pressure situations?
- What are you renowned for? How do others describe you? What stands out most about you? How will hiring you benefit the organization?
By being proactive to update your resume on a regular basis, you’ll always be ready for whatever comes your way. That puts you squarely in charge of managing your own career.
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