If your last job search was pre-2001, you may be in for a rude awakening, says Deborah Walker, career coach and résumé writer. Your old résumé, which worked well before, may no longer attract employers.
Four reasons your old résumé may not work for you:
1. Because the competition is drastically greater. Stand out against other job-seekers—and land an interview—by making strong accomplishment statements. Example: “Cut costs 20% by renegotiating office lease.”
2. Because it doesn’t contain the right keywords. “It is entirely possible that a computer, not a person, will be the first one to screen your résumé,” Walker says.
Tip: “Use the terminology companies use in their job postings when interchangeable words can be used,” says Alisa Notte, a career counselor at Central Piedmont Community College, in Charlotte, N.C. “The words used in the original posting will be the ones the employer will be trying to match, whether your résumé is scanned by a computer or a pair of human eyes.”
3. Because it doesn’t transmit properly in an online form, which is how it gets passed around. Take the time to reformat or rewrite it for an online audience. It’s worth the investment.
Tip: Notte recommends ditching the Microsoft Résumé Wizards and Templates. “They have been used by millions of other job-seekers and often contain embedded tables that can make future editing painful,” she says.
4. Because it simply tacks your current job onto the same old résumé. The industry is changing, and your résumé should be in step. If you need to change many items on your résumé, consider starting with a fresh, blank page.
Tip: Enter résumé content on the page first, then apply formatting to make it look pretty. “It keeps ‘résumé-vanity’ from getting in the way of what you actually include in the document,” says Notte.
Finally, advises Notte, have someone else look over your résumé. “I recommend a career services or HR professional. They can help you edit more effectively so that only the best appears on your résumé.”