by Karen Hofferber
with updates by Mark Swartz,
Monster Contributing Writer
If it has been years since you've updated your resume, you may be wondering where to start. There have been changes in the ways resumes are constructed and sent. Follow these six steps to turn your dusty retro resume into a high-powered personal marketing tool for winning interviews in a competitive job market. 1. Find Your Focus
Before you start refreshing your old resume, you need to clarify your job target. Without a clear vision of your career direction, your resume won't do a good job selling you to potential employers. If you have more than one career interest, you'll be much better off developing different versions of your resume rather than trying to construct a one-size-fits-all document.
Having trouble finding your focus? You might want to start with some self-assessment tests
or by speaking to a career counselor. 2. Research Your Target Thoroughly research your job target
before writing the first draft of your resume, especially if it's been a while since you've been in the job market. Talk to people in your target industry, and read through relevant job postings on Monster to get a good idea of the qualifications employers are looking for. If you are changing careers, your research may prompt you to enroll in continuing-education classes to gain new skills. 3. Develop Your Profile/Objective
Now you're ready to begin writing. If you're a career changer
, you'll need a clearly stated objective to open your resume. Don't expect busy hiring managers to figure out what you want to do. Use this section to explain key skills you can leverage from your prior career into your new job target. Emphasize how you can help the organization, rather than what you want in a job.
Here's a before-and-after example:
- Before: Seeking a challenging position with a future-oriented company offering opportunities for growth and advancement.
- After: Dynamic public speaker/presenter with advanced technical knowledge, seeking to leverage these strengths as an award-winning computer instructor into an entry-level software sales position.
If you're looking for a new position within your current field, use the Objective section on Monster's Resume Builder to write a compelling Profile Summary. This is the perfect place to write a few hard-hitting sentences emphasizing the breadth of your experience and the value you bring to the table. 4. Zero in on Your Achievements
Your resume must have an accomplishments-driven focus to compete in today's job market and maximize calls for interviews. Avoid simply rehashing boring job descriptions. Instead, detail the results and outcomes of your efforts
If you were a hiring manager, which would you find more compelling?
- Before: Responsible for troubleshooting and maintaining workstations and systems.
- After: Improved systems uptime from 91% to 99.9% for 350 corporate and remote users through expert, cross-platform (Windows NT/UNIX) troubleshooting/maintenance.
For each of the positions you've held, use action verbs to describe how you contributed to your employers, such as: cut costs, generated revenue, improved service, enhanced processes, solved problems or saved time. Use numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, comparisons or other key details to back up your claims. Be sure not to reveal facts that disclose proprietary or confidential company information.
5. Include "Key Words" And Make Your Resume Scannable
These days many employers review your resume electronically. They want you to send it to them
in ways that a computer can easily read and sort.
So avoid using overly fancy fonts or complex layouts. If you are not confident in your design capabilities, seek assistance from a resume writer. In addition you can review our many resume samples
Also make sure that your updated resume includes plenty of relevant key words. Look for words, phrases and credentials that continually crop up in ads you want to apply to. If you see terms used frequently, they should probably be in your resume whenever applicable. Pay attention to skills that aren't mentioned in these ads as well, and remove items from your old resume that will make you seem outdated.
6. Proofread and Test-Drive
Your resume must be perfect. Carefully proofread your resume to ensure proper grammar, punctuation and usage. If you are changing careers, ask for feedback from hiring managers and recruiters in your targeted field for valuable input on how your resume stands up to the competition.
After it's complete, post your resume to Monster.ca where thousands of employers will see it, and you can apply for jobs