Spring Clean Your Resume!


By Debra Wheatman


So you’ve cleaned your closet, maybe your inbox, and you’re feeling pretty good about your spring cleaning. But before you wash your hands and congratulate yourself—pull out your resume, and take a look at it (whether or not you’re looking for a job right now).

You see, your resume is a lot like a closet. At least once a year, it needs a good cleaning—including taking a look at what you’ve got and determining what to keep, what to get rid of, and what to emphasize. Then, after all the unwanted items are cleaned out, you can add in new information to create a resume that’s current, relevant, and appealing. Just like your closet, if you don’t clean and update it regularly, it’s only going to be worse later.

And just like the rest of your spring cleaning, taking the project step-by-step makes it so much easier. Follow these three simple guidelines, and you’ll have a resume that’s refreshed and ready to go for spring.

Get Rid of It!

The first step is to remove the ancient history from your resume. As a rule, you should only show the most recent 10 to 15 years of your career history and only include the experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. Along similar lines, you should remove skills, affiliations, and certifications that are no longer relevant. For example, if you still have a certification for an outdated software application that no one uses anymore—remove it. And if you’re focused on a career in accounting, eliminate that veterinary assistant certification.

In other words, examine all of the content on your resume and make sure that every piece of information you’ve chosen to include demonstrates your (current, relevant) value to your target employer. Yes, this can be tough, especially when you’re proud of your past accomplishments, but don’t let emotional attachments get in your way. You can still be proud of that award you won or club you started in college, but don’t let it clutter up the page and prevent readers from seeing your strongest selling points today.

Wow! Where Has That Been Hiding?

Now, take a look at the bullets that are left and really think about everything that you’ve done. More importantly, think about the results of those efforts. Can you attach a measurement to that task or accomplishment—such as an increase in profit, quality, efficiency, or customer satisfaction? Voilà! You have found a hidden gem. I’ve seen clients turn things as mundane as “Served on the Kanban Committee for 2 years” into gems like “Reduced re-work by 27% and cut expenses by $435,000 annually by instituting audit process in pre-assembly phase.”

Think about your own results. If you’re responsible for accounts receivable, for example, did you decrease the number of outstanding accounts? If so, by what percentage? Did you increase cash flow? If so, by how much? Those are more examples of hidden gems. And that’s even better than finding new shoes in your closet that you forgot you bought!

Also pay attention to results that you’ve achieved recently and haven’t had a chance to add yet—now is the time to add them.

What’s Missing?

The next step is to identify what’s missing. What are the requirements for your target job—and where are the gaps on your resume? More importantly, do you actually possess those skills, knowledge, and experiences that aren’t coming across?

If you do in fact have those skills, it’s time to add them to your resume. Think about what you’ve done—at work or extracurricularly—that demonstrates you have those required skills, and add that information to your resume. And if you don’t? Well, now’s the perfect time to make a plan to get them. If you see that many employers you want to work for are seeking a certified Project Management Professional, start working toward obtaining that certification. If you see that SharePoint software specialists are in high demand, take a course and hone that skill. Whether it’s enrolling in a certification or training course or volunteering to take on new responsibilities at work, figure out what you need, and go get it.

Go ahead, roll up your sleeves and start your resume spring cleaning project today! Out with the old and in with the new—and if you’re looking for it, hopefully a new job, too.