Rock Your Résumé in Any Situation

CareerBuilder.com writer

Whether you're currently employed, facing a layoff or looking for a job, keeping your résumé up-to-date is always important. In today's economy, however, it's even more vital to have a current copy of your résumé on hand. After all, you never know when an amazing job opportunity -- or pink slip -- might fall into your hands.

"You have to be ready to submit your résumé on short notice," says Dustin DeVries, senior director of LEAD DAWG, a job search consulting firm. "Candidates who have taken time to update their résumé may be passed over for another candidate of similar caliber that is ready to go now. You just never know when that opportunity may land in your lap and you have to be ready to act."

Updating one's résumé today, however, may not be as easy as it once was. As job losses and layoffs continue to swell, people have to do more with less to enhance their résumés. Job seekers are unsure how to deal with lack of employment, gaps between work, title demotions, less duties and shortened job spans when updating their résumés.

Here are some ways to beef up your résumé if it is lacking in any of the following areas:


You have a gap between jobs

Depending on the length of the gap, Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers, says you should fill in the gap with something you've been doing in your time off. This will show employers you've taken initiative during this period rather than waiting for something to fall into your lap.

"Consider getting actively involved in volunteer projects and/or consulting opportunities, even if you do the work for free," Salpeter says. "This will allow you to use your skills in a way that is worth describing on your résumé."


You've been laid off

No employer will be surprised see an applicant who's been laid off. Be honest about your departure, DeVries says. "In this economy, it's going to happen. Don't misrepresent that you're still employed by dating your last position as 'to present' if you're not currently with that company. [It's a] red flag if a recruiter sees [you] as currently employed when in fact you've been laid off."


You were hired recently but laid off right away due to the economy

Don't leave any employment off your résumé, no matter how short a period you may have worked there. Just don't explain the details on your résumé.

"In today's economy, most people will give you the benefit of the doubt that your departure was not a result of your performance," Salpeter says. "Be prepared to discuss it if it comes up in a conversation or interview."


You were demoted or had a title change

Titles are just that -- a title. It says nothing about your specific accomplishments and your track record of meeting or exceeding metrics for your organization, DeVries says.

"State your title, but focus [on] your achievements for the organization. Any good recruiter or potential employer is going to be most interested in your track record of meeting objectives no matter what your role," DeVries says. "A 'director' of marketing for one company may require something completely different from a 'director' role at another company. Focus on your measurable accomplishments."


You went from a senior-level position to a "filler" position at lower level

In this situation, it's critical to include an objective that outlines what type of position you're looking for at the company where you're applying, DeVries says.

"If you have to take a 'filler' position between professional positions, you need to include the role but place your focus on the activities you have maintained during that time to remain current in your professional field," he says. Volunteering, professional networking and taking classes are all things that will help keep you current.


You're a recent college graduate with little experience

Most people have skills that they don't realize are important résumé builders, Salpeter says. DeVries agrees, saying that experience occurs any time you're gaining insight and perspective in your chosen field. Classes, volunteer experience, internships, leadership activities and professional networking groups are all examples of experience you can incorporate in your résumé.


Now that you know how to correct any potentially sketchy parts of your résumé, here are five tips for keeping it up-to-date.


1. Keep up with trends

"Keep up-to-date with current trends for résumés and online profiles. Be sure that you are highlighting how you stand out and emphasizing what makes you special," Salpeter says.


2. Keep a brag book

DeVries suggests keeping a log of your performance reviews, coaching reports from managers, sales reports, goal assessments and the like to use as content for your résumé.

"You're going to be measured against someone else in most any position you may hold," he says. "Update this list each time you receive an e-mail from your manager or a report from your company. Include achievements applicable to the position to which you're submitting your résumé."

Additionally, Salpeter suggests keeping a file of any nice things that supervisors, clients and colleagues say about you, and asking for recommendations on social networking sites like LinkedIn.


3. List more than job duties

"Listing job duties on your résumé is OK, but include the metrics you were held accountable for and your performance to those goals," DeVries says. "Many people just list the duty but don't include the scale of their accountability and how they performed."

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4. Always ask for feedback

Never stop asking for feedback or critique from colleagues, friends and experts. "You never know what someone may see in your résumé that needs further enhancement or may just need to be eliminated," DeVries says.


5. Keep lists

In order to keep your résumé up-to-date, you need to keep a running list of your accomplishments and things you've done in the workplace, and add to it regularly, Salpeter says. Keep track of your digital profile, too, and recognize that your digital footprint is an important part of your professional presentation and job search.


Next: Breaking the Résumé Rules >>

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65 Comments

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Renee

I do not understand, why one has to spend money for a job
opportunity on the internet. that's why I am so skeptical
of home businesses. If someone has had a positive experience with a home based on line bus. I would appreciate hearing
from you. Please reply to my e-mail Thanks.

October 19 2009 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laurie

I've been worried about my resume. I have not worked in 2 1/2 years because I got hurt on the job & had to have several operations. I was just released recently but still have a lot of pain & don't know if I can go back to nursing & standing on my feet all day. However, my bills & debts needed me to be gainfully employed last month! I have been a nurse 22 years & never hurt before but I know companies don't like to hire people who have been on workers comp. before. How do I put that absence on a resume?

October 06 2009 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Debbie

It depends on the interviewer. Education and experience count but they are over rated in some cases. I have been in finance for many years and as an older worker without a degree I find it almost impossible to find a job in this economy. I have trained so many people coming out of school without a clue about real corporate finance. They have degrees and book smarts but no real corporate experience. They depend on you to walk them through every situation they come up against and you are expected to bring them along and of course you do. You don't get any recognition for it and passed over at every turn because of your lack of a degree. When your a widow who help to put your spouse through school and he has now died, but you have two children in college at the same time it is hard to return to school yourself. I'm very frustrated with the current gap for very experienced workers and less experienced degreed applicants.

October 01 2009 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew

this all thework of the corrurpt caplist pigs in charge of are govermemt and till the system changes nothing does.

August 27 2009 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric Wentworth

Career management needs to be an ongoing part of your life, like staying physically fit. If you wait until you've been laid off, or until a great opportunity comes along, you aren't managing one of the most important areas of your life well.

Few people actively or intelligently manage their career. It takes work. But the payoffs can be enormous.

Is your resume the best it can be? Does it work in the new world of work (e.g. is it computer scannable?).

Are you on the popular social media sites like Linkedin? 9 out of 10 HR Directors and hiring authorities check out applicants on this site. It's not only a good way to control your online presences, it shows you are comfortable with this fast-growing online phenomena.

Do you have an updated photo of yourself? Something that looks professional and helps establish your "personal brand."

Have you ever practiced on camera your interviewing style? The interview is the make-it-or-break-it step in the hiring process. You should study and practice interviewing until you are a pro at it.

Most jobs (and most opportunities in life) are found through some form of networking. Have you devoted the time necessary to build and maintain the personal and professional relationships in your life?

Are your skills up to date? If you're like most people who are employed, you've gotten lazy about improving your professional skill set. You should be a student for life if you expect to stay current.

Finally, what about you as a person? Are you overweight? Does your wardrobe look dated? Is your hairstyle flattering? Do you exude energy and enthuisiasm?

Have you smoothed out the "rough" spots in your personality? Remember, people hire (or promote) people they like. Learn to be likeable.

A good career, like a good marriage, can significantly impact your life, providing much joy and happiness---or the opposite.

August 27 2009 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eric Wentworth's comment
KDM7000

Very well said. Covers a variety of areas. Read it again.

August 27 2009 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Autumn

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE TRYING TO GET " STAY AT HOME JOBS" CHECK WITH THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU FIRST AND SEE IF THESE JOBS ARE LEGIT. MOST OF THEM AREN'T. GOOGLE THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU AND GO FROM THERE. THIS HELPED ME A LOT:)

August 27 2009 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rau8l

Hello every one unemployed or walking the fine line to possible being fired.
I got many friends and family just hanging in there. I will suggest that in this cybernetic world we are all living in, that we can chat with some one on the other side of our planet for free, create a internet page with practically no money and post our preferences and some pictures for any one to see like in my space, if you really want to do something stop thinking negative and blaming others, you all have all the tools in front of your faces & at your finger tips right now with the internet, from the comfort of your home. You have to deeply think and pick your brain for ideas, be creative, get together with associates, friends and old piers and make a brain storm and figured out what can you all do to start to make some $ doing what ever, arts & crafts, writing, blogging, helping people, selling, re-selling, act as representatives, inventing or innovating, repairing, doing house work, car wash, cleaning, selling fruits and vegetables, flowers, friends the sky is the limit, even if it sound silly or ridiculous, just do it and watch for the results and if it doest work, just keep on trying different thing and I guarantee you that the must amazing things can come out of that marvelous brain of yours, never give up & be persistent and determined …

August 27 2009 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LIGuy

A potential employer will not consider a candidate who cannot spell or use proper grammer. I cannot believe the number of times I have read e mails or memos from co workers who continue to mispell words and use improper grammer. Most recently I noticed a handwritten sign at the local Home Depot using "you're" (the contraction for you are) instead of the proper "your". Other incorrect but common mistakes are the incorrect use of "to" and "too", and "their" and "they're". This is basic grammer and spelling.

June 16 2009 at 9:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LIGuy's comment
Babs

Sorry, but the correct spelling is grammar, not grammer. And I agree with you concerning the proper use of your and you're. I see it all the time in notes from our schools.

June 17 2009 at 10:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anne Smith

As a business owner that has hired hundreds of workers, I believe that the rule of thumb is: Only put relevant experience, education, and skills on your resume. A hiring manager needs to be able to read through your relevant experience/eductation within a few seconds to see if your background matches a job opening. The resume is like a sales flyer for a product, not a legal document. Ultimately, you need to be able to back up your claims, and if you get hired, do a great job.

June 16 2009 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
diane

Most likely, the reason the majority of you did not get the job is that you can neither speak nor write english grammar, a skill that is necessary (I would assume) if you expect to appropriately represent your employer/company. If you were looking for an employee, would you hire one who cannot accurately convey even simple ideas? I doubt it.

June 16 2009 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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