Do you like spring cleaning? I have mixed feelings about it.
On one hand, you’re going to spend a day dusting, washing and throwing away old stuff. On the other hand, the sparkly clean feeling afterward makes it worth it.
Like spring cleaning, updating your resume and LinkedIn can be tedious but the payoff is amazing.
An updated resume gives you an upper hand when an unexpected guest (e.g., a job offer or recruiter) comes calling.
Spring cleaning your job marketing tools doesn’t have to be as tiring as cleaning your whole house. It’s easy if you know the things to edit for maximum impact.
How To Clean Up Your Resume
Here are some tips to make your resume sparkly clean for new opportunities:
1. Include recent training.
Did you recently complete a training program or attend a seminar? Update your resume with these new credentials. Aside from added skills, new training shows that you’re motivated and continuously growing -- traits many employers value.
Remove your college GPA and high school education details to keep your resume concise.
2. Get rid of yesteryear's junk.
Nothing says "outdated" like decade-old experience and technical skills. Proficient in Microsoft Word? Toss it. Same goes with research skills, inactive professional memberships and college extracurriculars.
List only the technical and job-specific skills mentioned in the job ad you’re applying for. Don’t forget to demonstrate soft skills in your employment history. The 2016 Job Outlook report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reveals that leadership, teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills are the top skills employers value in applicants.
3. Scrub out typos.
Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation report shows that 72% of recruiters view typos on social media profiles negatively.
Your resume might be impressive but a few grammar slips will tarnish your qualifications like rust eats through metal.
The first way to make sure your resume is free of grammar and spelling errors is to read it out loud a day after you’ve finished writing it. Giving your eyes time to rest prevents you from reading the document from memory, so you can spot the grammar mistakes you couldn’t notice straight after finishing it.
4. Add a sprinkle of today's jargon.
Remove outdated terms and jargon from your resume. Any profession comes with a set of jargon, which changes regularly as new generations join the workforce.
For instance, a few years ago people often referred to a company’s equal opportunity policy as an affirmative action plan. In IT, employees who code used to be called programmers but now they’re often called developers.
5. Leverage the power of numbers and name-dropping.
Numbers make your accomplishments specific and believable. Instead of writing "top sales performer," write “top sales performer for 3 consecutive months."
You can also include keywords about your job to take it up a notch, such as "top life insurance sales associate for three consecutive months.”
If you’ve worked with famous brands, even those famous only within your industry, you can use their names on your resume. Do this only if you’re not bound by a confidentiality agreement.
Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Once you've updated your resume, you might as well spruce up your LinkedIn profile, too. After all, 87% of recruiters surveyed use LinkedIn in their hiring process.
1. Add the right keywords.
How many views do you get on LinkedIn? If you’re not getting enough, you might not be using the right keywords. Look at the profile of other professionals in your industry. Are they using keywords missing in your profile?
LinkedIn also publishes a list of overused keywords regularly. So if you find these clichéd terms in your profile, delete them immediately. These words are not bad per se, but they’ve lost their meaning because of overuse.
LinkedIn’s overused buzzwords for 2016 are:
2. Get skill endorsements.
LinkedIn allows people in your network to endorse you for the skills listed in your profile. The more endorsements you have, the more credible you look to an employer.
You can get more endorsements in two ways:
• Look at other people’s profiles and endorse them for the skills they’re good at. Trust in their generosity to endorse you back.
• Send a message to friends and coworkers asking for an endorsement.
3. Change your photo.
Your photo is the first thing people see when they click on your profile. If your photo is from two or more years ago, update it with a new one. If it’s a selfie, consider changing it to a more professional looking picture.
Don’t use poorly edited or cropped photos.
Another thing you can try is to add context to your profile picture. For instance, if you’re a restaurant chef, a profile picture of yourself wearing your chef’s jacket in the restaurant’s kitchen will clue people in on what you do without having to read your profile.
4. Ask for new recommendations.
Ask your former co-workers and boss to give you a recommendation. Like skill endorsements, recommendations boost your credibility.
When requesting a recommendation, ask for specific information your colleagues and previous managers liked about your work. Vague praises like "She’s a good employee" don't say much about you. Instead, ask them for specifics such as:
• What they like about you as a teammate
• The skills or tasks you excelled in
• Notable projects or accomplishments
5. Do the work now so you're not frazzled later.
Which do you prefer: Updating your resume now — at a leisurely pace — while you’re not desperate for a job? Or frantically typing your qualifications later, after you received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
If you do the work now, you’ll have one less thing to worry about later.