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How to Update Your Resume Effectively

Updated on December 12, 2017
Carola Finch profile image

Carola is an entrepreneur and free-lance writer. She has worked in the business world for many years.


Job recruiters skim through resumes quickly so it is essential that your resume is user-friendly. You may be tempted to add some embellishments to the format or some razzle-dazzle fonts while updating your resume, but certain enhancements could work against you instead of for you. So how can you attract the recruiter's attention and appear polished and professional?

There are several ways you can impress busy job recruiters and get your resume put on the pile of contenders rather than the rejection pile.

Top things that recruiters are seeking
resumes that are customized for their open position
a cover letter included with the resume
addressed to the name of the recruiter or hiring manager
a link to the applicant’s online portfolio, website, or blog
Source: survey by CareerBuilders

Delete old information: Take out information that is outdated or no longer relevant such as obsolete software skills or technologies. If it has been some time since you graduated from college, eliminate the graduation date from the education section.

Review the projects and successes you have had since the last update: Look at what you have achieved since you last updated your resume and incorporate them into your revision. Companies want to know about the assets and skills that you used to succeed in the workplace. Avoid empty or flowery language such as interesting or exquisite.

Do not include personal information such as age, place of birth, political affiliation, or religion.

A social media links: Add a link to your LinkedIn profile and other relevant professional social media sites to your online applications. Experts advise against including a link to your Facebook page, no matter how clean it is.

Keep it short: The resume does not need to be one page, but should not be much longer than that. You can reduce your top and bottom margins to 0.5 in. and the side margins to no less than 0.75 in to fit it on one page.


Formatting Tips

Use easy-to-read formatting: You may be tempted to show your creativity by using different font colors or sizes, but your resume is more likely to be read by recruiters if all the formatting is consistent. Use easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica. This will make your resume less likely to be rejected by applicant tracking systems.

Align to the left: Keep most of the text aligned to the left with a single font. A recruiter should be able to find important information quickly on the page without being distracted by unnecessary elements.

Do not use all-caps: Avoid using all-caps in headings or the text. The only exception would be your name on top of the resume. Text that is all in capitals is hard to read. Some people consider all-caps to be improper and the same as "screaming" at the reader. Use bolding instead for headings.

Use bolding wisely: If you decide to bold text, do not bold two pieces of related information such as the job title of your previous position and the name of the company. Bold either the former or the later. Bolding the company name may work better if you are a new graduate, while bolding the job title may be a better option if you have a longer work history.

Keep sentences in bullet lists short: Bullet lists are an efficient way to describe past work experience and skills. Each item should be no more than one or two sentences. If information is in long paragraph, recruiters may miss important information.


Doublecheck for errors: Proofread the resume from time to time for grammatical errors or typos. Watch for outdated jargon and delete it. You can also ask your professional contacts or friends to review it. Use actual numbers in the text instead of spelling them out so that the digits are more readable.

Remove unnecessary elements: Delete the resume objective. It should be obvious from the contents that you are a “hard working professional who wants to work in (blank) industry.” You also do not need to include the reasons why you left your past positions.

Delete the phrase “references available on request” and use the extra space to highlight your accomplishments. Recruiters will ask for them in any case. Keep a separate page listing your references that you can hand over to a recruiter during the interview.

Update regularly: Refresh your resume whenever new information becomes available such as new software skills. In some cases, you may want to redesign and personalize a resume specifically for a certain position.

Do not worry if you do not meet all of the qualifications listed in a job description. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 42 percent of employers would seriously consider a candidate if they met only three out of five of the key criteria.

Concluding Thoughts

Recruiters take less than five minutes to scan an application. Applicants have a much better chance of being considered if they update their resumes on a regular basis and make them easy to read.

© 2015 Carola Finch


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  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

    Things change as time changes and these updated expectations should not be overlooked. Very helpful instructions for those who are still writing resumes.