As an active job seeker, you want to present the best resume possible, but without undue stress over the perfect layout or scrambling to start from square one. You want to find an important balance between effective and obsessively perfect when you create, publish, and submit your resume. A small typo here or there likely won’t get your resume thrown in the toss pile, but it does matter what type of typo you leave in. Some obvious rules: Don’t spell the company name wrong; and avoid embarrassing errors such as missing letters that a spell check won’t pick up. And err on the side of near-perfection as much as you can.
Before you post your resume to online job boards
Process any additional notes or strong accomplishments that you can share, and get the details into your resume. Perhaps you haven’t updated your professional summary in several years, and in that time, you went from a junior to senior-level staff member. The way you deliver the story of your experience changes significantly over time, and your story needs to reflect upward movement, continuing education, awards, and specific (measurable when possible) achievements that go beyond a standard job description.
Before you apply for specific jobs
Whether you’re applying for a job with your current company, responding to a blind ad through a placement agency, or reaching out on your own as a non-employee, you need to tailor your resume to the exact job specifications as they’re listed in the ad or staffing agency description. At a minimum, you should:
- Redo the summary area so that you tell your overall job story by connecting the most impressive and relevant details to the job requirements.
- Consider modifying your job titles to more closely reflect the language the employer uses. There are tons of job titles that mean the same thing as other job titles, so these revisions aren’t lies…you do have the experience, you just might have been called something else.
- Rework your experience section to make sure the most relevant bullet points are at the top of each position. Again, modify the exact terminology if you need to, so you’re speaking in the organization’s native language.
Check your facts and locations
Before you publish your resume, make sure your facts are accurate and updated to reflect the current situation. For example, I realized after applying for the full-time position I’d already been doing as a contractor for 1.5 years, that I wasn’t actually sure if my numbers were accurate. I’d said my target audience for credit policy communications was 7500+ underwriters and sales people, but honestly, I couldn’t remember where or when I came up with that figure. I finally asked my manager about it, and she said it was at least that, with the numbers fluctuating. To make my experience stand out, I wanted to give a large number that accurately reflected the needs of the audience I was tasked with continually reaching. So I didn’t want to just say I communicated to the team of home mortgage experts.
Another example is when you reference specific works that are published online. Are they still there; does that hyperlink still work?
Has a former employer gone through a merger or acquisition? If so, and the name changed, you need to update this as well. You can include the formerly known as information if it’s needed, but make sure your resume lists the current name.
Also check your own address, phone number(s), email address, and social profiles (if applicable and appropriate) to make sure they are accurate.
Update your social networks
If you have social networking accounts and/or a personal blog, make sure your information is current. It’s easy to overlook these extra accounts. But it’s wise to update not only the LinkedIn account, but other social networks, so that your data is accurate and current across all accounts. Remember, if you don’t want a potential employer to see it, don’t post it.
With LinkedIn, you can now use the Open Candidates feature to let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities, without it being front and center on your public profile. You can also update your profile to match the resume, including standout accomplishments, start and end dates, and more.
If you have profile pictures throughout social networks, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re appropriate. If you’d be embarrassed having your mom or your boss see the photos, change them!
When you’re actively seeking a job, make sure you update your resume to make sure the information is current, accurate, and persuasive.