Job hunt: 6 tips to update your resume in a hurry

You just got a call about what might be a great new job - but your resume is gathering dust. Here’s how to freshen it up fast
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One of the biggest career mistakes an IT leader can make is not being ready when recruiters call. Even people who are happy in their current jobs can miss out on great roles or networking opportunities because they aren’t prepared.

The last thing most busy IT leaders are thinking about is updating their resume. However, timing matters: “When I was an executive recruiter, I would always hope when I called an interested, qualified candidate, the candidate would have an updated resume to send me immediately so I can send it to my interested client,” says Lisa Rangel, founder of resume writing and job search consultancy Chameleon Resumes. “Strike while the iron is hot!”

[ Don’t forget to show communication prowess. Read also: 7 skills every professional IT resume needs. ] 

Using these tips, IT leaders can quickly refresh their resumes when an unexpected call comes.

1. Update the easy stuff

Make sure your contact information is updated, including current mobile number and email. “Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile vanity URL,” Rangel says. “It is commonly overlooked.”

2. Address the top goals

Ask the recruiter about the top three goals the prospective employer has in mind for its next hire. Then “be sure you have measurable achievements listed that demonstrate how you either have done these [things] already or can show how you are positioned to do these wins as next steps in your career,” Rangel says.

3. Freshen up your font

Some fonts, like Courier or Times New Roman, feel dated, Rangel says. “If you have 20-plus years of experience, it can contribute to the overall vibe of your candidacy as looking outdated,” says Rangel. “Updating the font is like wearing updated clothes to an interview. Sure, you can do the job if you wear a 1990s suit with big shoulder pads, but is that the impression you want to make?”

4. Update the visual elements

“Remember that readers digest your resume in six-second increments.”

Include subtle touches of color in the form of a separator line between sections, advises Rangel. “The key here is subtle,” she adds. “A line separator can move the eye through the document more efficiently, which subconsciously works in the candidate’s favor.” Also, don’t be afraid of white space: Break up blocks of information using short sentences and/or numeric or bulleted content. “Remember that readers digest your resume in six-second increments.” 

5. Edit out the overly technical

“Once you have moved into IT leadership, it’s important to show more about how you manage resources, staff, and technology to help the company remain and become more profitable, and less about your technical application abilities,” Rangel says. “Demonstrate how you attract high-quality talent. Write achievement-based bullets depicting how you developed IT managers who reported to you. Showcase how you brought in advanced technologies to make end-user experiences (client, employee, or vendor) more productive and the bottom line bigger.”

6. Bolster the top

“Make sure the top third of the resume speaks to what the prospective employer needs,” says Rangel. “That’s how you keep them reading and increase the odds of getting the call from the recruiter’s client company wanting to see you.”

[ Arm yourself for IT job interviews with winning tactics and relevant data. Get our new eBook: IT job searching in 2019: A practical guide. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.


Tip Number One: Starting NOW!! update your LinkedIn profile and rely on this as your virtual resume. This means bring the chronological experience current, write a compelling summary section, post relevant credentials, training and awards plus regularly publish redacted work samples. Start posting status updates demonstrating your interests and expertise.
Even if your resume is outdated, you can appear up to date by recommending that an employer can learn about you visiting your online profile. Meanwhile, don't wait another second before dusting off your resume. BUT, if I had to choose which format to get into modern shape first, go fix your LinkedIn profile and be sure to upload a flattering headshot, one of the first impressions you make on a stranger is your appearance so make that a positive experience.

Great article! I've taught many of the same principles, but you took it to better details. For example, being an old guy, I never thought of the font challenge. In fact, just the other day I was trying to find Times New Roman and couldn't find it.

Good suggestions. Thank you