September is International “Update Your Resume” month! Most job seekers know the importance of having a professional resume, but many working professionals forget to keep theirs up-to-date. In recognition of this, UMUC Career Services will be featuring a series of articles on resume writing including: Five Principles for Developing an Effective Resume, How to Write a Results-Driven Resume, Five Important Steps to Writing a Federal Resume, and Developing a Successful Technical Resume.
Not sure if you need to update your resume? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- When was the last time you updated your resume? If you are not sure, it has probably been too long. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to remember all of the great things you have done, so the time to update your resume is right now!
- When was the last time you updated your CareerQuest profile? When you are updating your resume, be sure to update your profile in CareerQuest too. Employers actively use CareerQuest to identify potential talent, and the more detailed your profile is, the more likely you will be found. Here are a few areas of particular importance:
- Professional Headshot: Do you have a profile picture in your CareerQuest profile? If yes, know that employers use CareerQuest to identify potential talent for their organizations, so choose a picture that will demonstrate that you are a serious professional. Be sure to be professionally dressed, don’t use too much makeup, and choose an appropriate backdrop and facial expression that demonstrates the kind of impression you are trying to make.
- Current and Past Experience: Is this section filled out? Does it include all prior jobs that are relevant to your future goals? Did you include keyword-rich descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments?
- Background: Have you included all of your degrees (including if you are currently enrolled)? Did you double-check your spelling in this section?
- Additional Information: Are you currently seeking a job? Are you employed? What kinds of opportunities are you looking for? Do you have an active security clearance? Have you acquired any new skills and/or certifications that relate to your target career? Employers using CareerQuest frequently use these fields to identify UMUC students and alumni with specific qualifications that match the jobs they are trying to fill.
- Do you have a current copy of your resume uploaded into CareerQuest? Is it visible to employers? Many students and alumni upload their resumes into CareerQuest, but you must choose to make it public to employers using the CareerQuest platform. To do this, log into CareerQuest and click on your picture in the upper right corner. Then select My Documents.
To make your resume public, slide the circle under the word “Public” to the right (like for the Resume document in the picture above). If you do not wish to make the document public, keep the circle under the word “Public” to the left (see Cover Letter document in the picture above). If you would like to delete any of these files, you can select Delete, to upload a new file, click on Add New File.
Now that you know how to upload your resume into CareerQuest, here is a quick checklist of some basic formatting tips to make sure your resume looks professional:
- Choose a standard font for your resume (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, etc.).
- Margins should be no smaller than 0.5 inches all around.
- Font should be between 10 and 12 pt. (except for your name, which should be a bit larger—perhaps 16‒20 pt.)
- No need to use color on your resume unless you are targeting a creative position (marketing, design, etc.)
- Looking for a way to shorten your resume? Make it single-spaced and/or delete all gaps between the lines/sections of your resume.
- Use bullet points instead of paragraphs to describe your experiences.
- Make sure all of your bullet points are lined up evenly throughout your resume.
- Either include a period after each bullet point or don’t, but be consistent with your punctuation throughout your resume.
- List your work experience and education in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent is closer to the top of your resume).
There are many ways to format your resume, but the tips above are general guidelines that are fairly standard across all industries and job levels. UMUC students and alumni can find additional tips in CareerQuest. You can also access this Resume Tutorial for additional assistance.
Is your resume ready for some feedback? Then check out VMock, UMUC’s resume tool that uses artificial intelligence to provide tips on improving your resume’s format and content. This tool, when combined with human intelligence, can give some helpful suggestions. It is available 24/7 to all UMUC students and alumni in CareerQuest.
Keep an eye out for more articles about resume writing later this month. If you have any questions, please contact at 240-684-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit CareerQuest. Good luck!
Kristin Schrader is the assistant director of InternPLUS and Military Career Programs at University of Maryland University College. She has a background in human resources and has worked in career services at four universities. Most recently, she was the Lead Trainer in Europe for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Workshop teaching transitioning service members about the civilian job search. Kristin is a proud military spouse and is passionate about helping others obtain their professional goals.