6 ways to spring clean your resume
As of today (March 20), it’s officially spring — the perfect time to do some spring cleaning.
That could mean donating old clothes to charity, throwing out old spices from your pantry, or giving your bedroom a fresh new look. And it’s also a good time to clean up your resume, especially if you haven’t tweaked it in a few years or if you’re applying for a new job.
Sure, knowing what to keep and what to cut can be tricky, but imagine you’re rooting through a closet of old shoes … if something seems outdated, it probably is.
For a little more guidance, we asked the experts — career counsellor and coach Rebecca Beaton, and Amanda Magnanelli, marketing and content strategist at Boost Agents — for their top tips for how to “spring clean” your resume.
Trim the page count
If your resume is hovering around five, six — or more — pages, some serious tightening is needed. In fact, most resume experts suggest keeping it at two pages, max.
When you’re deciding what to trim, Magnanelli suggests thinking like a time-strapped employer. “They only want to spend 10 minutes on it,” she says.
That means shorter sentences, bullet points, and succinct phrasings, along with cutting some of the clutter in the tips ahead. Once you do all that, Magnanelli says you’ll showcase your top skills without any distractions.
“I’ve seen candidates with 10 years of experience consolidate it to one page,” she adds.
Swap out the ‘objective statement’
Once upon a time, the objective statement used to be a top section on a resume. That’s not always the case nowadays, says Beaton. Instead of summing up your career goals, she recommends a snappy professional summary or “tagline” under your name.
For example, a tagline for an Administrative Assistant at a fashion magazine might look like, “Administrative Assistant, High End Fashion, 10 Years Experience.” Short, sweet, and memorable.
Use tasks and skills to highlight accomplishments
We recently wrote about elements of a strong CV, and a skills list made the cut. Magnanelli, however, thinks you need to take this a step further, by using skills to highlight concrete accomplishments.
“Only include things that are unique to who you are. If it’s generic or doesn’t provide value — don’t include it,” she says.
Beaton agrees. “Employers don’t want to just see the word “problem-solving” listed under a skills section, they want to see specific examples of times that you demonstrated problem-solving skills, and the results you were able to achieve by applying this skill,” she explains.
Cut outdated information
Are you still proud about being student council president in university? Or about your first job after graduation? That’s great — but you might want to leave those things out.
“Generally, employers want to see experience on a resume going back no further than 10-15 years,” says Beaton.
That means accomplishments from your school days or early career highlights are probably safe to cut, unless they’re relevant to your employer.
(Hint: If your hiring manager went to the same school as you, or once worked at a particular company, maybe a bit more detail won’t hurt.)
Make sure volunteer work is relevant
It’s tempting to have a volunteer work section on a resume, since it can show off your philanthropic spirit and well-rounded personality. But does your future boss really care that you walk shelter dogs in your spare time? Probably not.
Magnanelli recommends chopping most volunteer work, but there’s a caveat: If it’s directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, keep it in. Say you’re applying to a non-profit, for instance, and did some volunteer work for them in years past — leaving those tidbits isn’t a waste of space.
Freshen up the design
Once you’ve tidied things up, why not give your resume a fresh look? Whether you’re using a basic word processor or flashier design software, it’s easy to tweak things for a vibe that’s clean, modern, and eye-catching if you keep a few things in mind.
“Make sure your resume has lots of white space, uses an 11-point sans serif font, and uses bullet points so it’s skimmable and easy to read,” Beaton suggests.
With those tips, you’ll have your resume cleaner than your closet in no time.