Resume Help: How to Update an Old Resume

resume help, update a resumeIf you’ve been out of the job market for a while and you’re just getting back in, it’s likely your resume needs some updating.

It’s important to understand that there’s more to it than listing any employment history updates since your last rewrite.

This is the time to completely overhaul that old resume to increase your chances of obtaining an interview and getting the job you want.

Is your old resumed targeted to the specific job?

If you have worked at your current job for a while, you may not know that the idea of what a résumé is has changed fundamentally.

A résumé is no longer just a bland list of every job you’ve ever had and all those jobs’ specific duties.

A résumé is now a slick piece of marketing communication precisely targeted to a given company and job.

The days of cramming every detail onto a résumé and hoping the recipient can extract the points relevant to them are long gone. Don’t rely on the reader to figure out if you’re qualified. It’s your job to come right out and explain exactly how you’re right for the job. To do this, examine your history and the requirements of the job you’re applying for.

Rewrite your résumé focusing on the areas where their needs and your abilities and past duties match. This does mean you will rewrite your resume for every opening, but that’s the only way to guarantee you’re putting your best image out there every time.

Does your old resume fit the industry standard format?

There are only a handful of different resume formats, but every industry has its own precise resume content guidelines. Moreover, every different position in each of these industries may even have job-specific resume requirements. You need to be sure your résumé meets the industry standards.

Resume template websites like are available to help resume writers understand the specifics resume characteristics of their given field and openings. Consider banking as an example. In this industry, a loan officer resume is different from that of a teller, while a collections manager applicant will follow a different format than someone applying for a job as an analyst. and other template sites can help job seekers navigate the complicated particulars of resume requirements.

Does the old resume stress past duties, not accomplishments?

If your old resume is plain and just states your past employers, positions and the duties you performed, you are selling yourself short. It’s hard to get an interview when you’re just making claims with no substantiation.

Instead of simply saying what you’ve done, job applicants need to back up those claims with figures. The way to do this is by focusing the resume’s job history on achievements instead of duties.

Achievements and accomplishments tell an employer, “I did this.” Contrast that with blandly listing past duties, which only says, “Here’s the job I filled.” For example, in the information technology field, you might be tempted to list “managed backup system” on a résumé.

This is dull and does not paint you as an achiever. Instead, you could write “implemented new backup system to decrease job failures by 80% and ensure disaster recovery.”

This example includes a quantifiable statistic and is a lot more impressive. It is demonstrative, dynamic and goes a lot further to impress the recipient.

Does your old resume rigidly adhere to the old “one page” rule?

In the past, job applicants were told over and over to never go over a single page, no matter what. This is just not the case anymore. Proper formatting, readability and completeness are much more important than adhering to an outdated rule like this.

When updating your resume, pay attention to format and content. A resume should have plenty of white space, which is attractive to the eye and makes it more readable. It should also consist of short, bulleted lists instead of long paragraphs of text.

Does your resume and cover letter include a bunch of needless words and industry jargon?

If you include words like “motivated” and “extensive experience” recruiters skip over these meaningless words. Show and prove why you are motivated and have experience using these following sentences:

  • If you have extensive experience write: 10 years of experience with a professional services firm as a senior tax account and adviser to over 20 global engineering firms.
  • If you have great communication skills write: Communicator who delivers 50 speeches per year to non-profit audiences as large as 2,500.
  • If you are a motivated and revenue-driven team-player write: Lead team that launched 5 new projects that generated 250,000 annually in revenue.

Following these rules and writing a good-looking and readable resume trumps the old one-page guideline. Likewise, if you have a long and impressive history of jobs and accomplishments, it’s more important to be thorough and sell yourself than it is to avoid a second page at all costs.

The old rules of resume writing are out the door.

In any job market, especially a tough one, it’s important to update your resume and stand out. Writing a targeted resume, following industry-specific format rules, listing achievements and choosing completeness and readability over keeping it short are all exceptional techniques that will help you write an updated resume that will get results.

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