International Update Your Resume Month

creating a great resume

When was the last time you refreshed your resume? If you need motivation to clean it up, here it is: September is International Update Your Resume Month!

Types of Resumes

Unlike a curriculum vitae (CV), which is a comprehensive document detailing your education, research experience, certifications, licenses, awards, and professional affiliations, a resume is a short summary of your work history and skills.

There are three types of resumes:

  • Chronological

    • Highlights which companies you’ve worked for, the dates of your employment, and your responsibilities
    • Easy to see career progression (or employment gaps) in this format
    • HR professionals prefer the traditional reverse chronological format, where you list your current or most recent job first
  • Functional

    • Places more emphasis on marketable skills rather than your work history
    • Good format for people just entering the workforce, those with employment gaps, and job seekers embarking on a career change
  • Combination

    • Combines the chronological and the functional resume formats
    • Emphasizes relevant achievements rather than your whole career

Regardless of which format you choose, your resume should be no more than one or two pages. If it’s longer than that, it’s time to cut the fat.

Tips for an Impressive Resume

Once you’ve decided on a format, here are some tips to modernize and refresh your resume

The Fundamentals

  • The goal of a resume is to motivate an employer to contact you. So make sure your contact info is up-to-date! Has your phone number changed? Do you have a more professional email address than [email protected]? (You 100% should.) You may also want to consider adding a link to your website or to your LinkedIn profile (provided it’s up-to-date).
  • Nix the outdated “objective” section of your resume; write a new summary statement instead. An objective says what you want out of the role, while a summary statement says what you can bring to the position. That’s what recruiters want to know.
  • Review what you’ve written about your work history, skills, and education. This should go without saying, but tell the truth. Lying on your resume is the biggest faux pas you can make.
  • Tailor your resume to every position you’re applying for. Try to match your skills and experience with the job description.
  • Don’t write “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of your resume. This goes without saying and is a rookie mistake.
  • Make sure the final saved file includes your full name and the word “resume.” This makes it easy for hiring teams to identify.
  • When applying for a job electronically, attach both a Word .doc and a PDF version. The Word file type may be easier for resume-scanning software to read (more on this later) and the PDF is guaranteed to retain its formatting. It’s the best of both worlds.
  • Ask a friend to proofread your resume. They should be looking for typos and anything that might be confusing, as well as assessing overall professionalism.

Modern Resume Design

  • Opt for a clean, simple layout with plenty of white space, wide margins, and bold headings.
  • When selecting a font, choose a common, legible one like Calibri or Arial. Size 12 is standard.

Instead of long paragraphs, use easy-to-skim bullet points.

  • Do not include a photo of yourself (unless you happen to be applying for a modeling or acting agency).
  • Consider adding a pop of color. Nothing too overpowering, but perhaps incorporate an accent like the brand color of the company where you’re applying.
  • Be cautious about adding too much flair; after all, your resume is still a professional document. Over-designed resumes are also harder for applicant tracking systems (ATS) to read.

    ATS-Friendly Resumes

    Did you know over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS of some kind? Many smaller businesses do, too. It’s not uncommon for an ATS to scan and filter incoming resumes, forwarding only the most “best fit” resumes to hiring teams.

    Some resumes are more difficult to scan than others. When refreshing your resume, it helps to understand the basics of resume-scanning technology. Most ATS algorithms look for specific keywords, especially words matching those used in the job description. To increase the likelihood that your resume makes it past an ATS, try to incorporate skills that come up more than once in the job posting or appear near the top of the requirements and responsibilities sections.

    Creating a Video Resume

    While we’re on the topic of modernizing your resume, have you considered creating a video resume? This is a great accompaniment to a traditional resume that gives you the perfect opportunity to showcase your personality. While video resumes are usually optional, they are becoming as commonplace as video interviewing.

    Keep your video resume short and sweet (between one and two minutes), and don’t just repeat what’s on your resume. Speak directly into the lens of your camera, introduce yourself, and explain why you applied for the job and what you can offer the employer. Invite them to contact you to learn more!

    Increase Your Chances of Career Success

    Whether you’re currently working or on the job hunt, it’s always a good idea to keep your resume up-to-date. Employed individuals who regularly document their accomplishments and career milestones can use this to negotiate a promotion. And, of course, unemployed and underemployed people can use their updated resume to land the job of their dreams. Use International Update Your Resume Month as a way to spearhead success in your career.

    Headshot of Jessica Newman

    Jessica Newman
    Jessica is a VidCruiter writer who cares about connecting people with meaningful work. She writes about talent attraction, HR challenges, and hiring best practices.