September is update your resume month: Three steps to refresh this important career tool

Some people always want to be camera-ready, but for career professionals, there’s something even more important: being resume-ready. You never know when a can’t miss-opportunity will come your way. September is International “Update Your Resume” month, which makes it the perfect time to dust of this essential document and refresh it.

1. Review your current resume
If you can’t remember the last time you updated your resume, it’s probably been too long. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to remember all the great things you have done.

Imagine you are a prospective employer as you read through your resume. Does it tell the story you want it to convey? Does it demonstrate your strengths, expertise and experience to someone looking for a candidate for your dream job? Does it showcase your best and most current accomplishments? It’s OK to delete anything that is outdated or is no longer relevant.

“Everyone should take a look at their resume at least once a year to make sure all of your skills are current and relevant,” said UMUC Assistant Vice President of Career Development Dr. Francine Blume. “You also never know when you’re going to need your resume. Resumes can be used not just to apply for a job, but because a client needs copies of your resume or your division is updating the bios on their website. It really is the best practice no matter what your career situation.”

2. Update and enhance your resume
Then take the time to determine what you should add to your resume to enhance it with your latest achievements. Start by brainstorming what you or your team has accomplished, especially projects that highlight key strengths that relate to your dream industry or position.

“When including team projects, be sure to articulate your role and quantify the outcomes,” said Blume. “It’s great to have leadership on your resume, but not everyone can be a leader all the time. Employers are also looking for collaboration and accountability skills in their employees.”

Be sure to include examples and data whenever possible. For instance, you may want to include the size of the budget you manage or how much revenue your latest project generated for your employer. Also, be sure to include any certifications or security clearances you may have obtained since you last updated your resume.

If you need to jog your memory about your achievements, review your digital files, email, reports and performance reviews in search of data and accomplishments you can share on your resume. Don’t immediately discount any of your smaller or projects or assignments outside your own department, as they may have given you new resume-able experience. However, it’s important to be careful not to share any confidential proprietary information.

In addition, it’s important to use action verbs in your descriptions, such as directed, managed or implemented, which come across as powerful and results-oriented to hiring managers. You can find more action verbs in UMUC’s resume writing tutorial.

3. Remember to tackle your online presence
If you add or subtract your resume, be sure to do the same to your LinkedIn and CareerQuest profiles in order to maintain a consistent professional brand. Employers actively use these tools to identify potential talent, and the more detailed and keyword-rich your profile is, the more likely you will be found.

In addition, be sure to add a professional headshot on your professional networking profiles, as this puts a face to your many talents. You can also link to any relevant information, such as articles you’ve published, your website or an online portfolio, if you have one.

While you’re at it, remember to proofread so you catch any formatting, spelling or link errors before prospective employers do.

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 careerservices@umuc.edu, or visit CareerQuest.