How long does it take to update a resume? A few minutes, an hour maybe even few days? It really depends on the quality of the resume, how outdated it is and if there are numerous mistakes that will irk the hiring manager as he or she will review hundreds of headache-inducing resumes. If you have limited time then working on your resume will be like defusing a bomb.
Let’s just say this: if you haven’t updated your resume since the first season of "Downtown Abbey" then now may be an excellent opportunity to take a gander at your resume. Even if you don’t need a job right now, you never know if you will be given the pink slip today or tomorrow.
The rules of resume writing have greatly evolved since your time in careers class in the 1990s or early 2000s. Today, it’s about keywords, maximizing your space and condensing it to just one page or two pages. Whether you have just five minutes or 45 minutes to spare, we have compiled a list of things you can do for your resume in a short period of time.
1. If You Only Have 59 Seconds
You have less than a minute to update your resume - for whatever reason - so you better cover the very basics of your CV. Here are seven things you can do within the next 59 seconds:
- Contact Information: verify that your name, address, email and telephone numbers are all up-to-date, accurate and do not contain any typos.
- Titles & Dates: if you haven’t updated your resume since the 2012 presidential election then perhaps it’s wise to quickly check your job titles and dates to ensure they are right. You could have switched jobs, the dates may have been wrong or your LinkedIn profile didn’t correctly correlate with your resume. Whatever the case, give the job titles and dates a glance.
- Spellcheck: indeed, spellcheck isn’t 100 percent foolproof but if you don’t have the knack of proofreading or editing then this can be a trusty sidekick for the next 59 seconds.
- Font: the default font that every resume should have is Times New Roman. But if it’s in Arial, Palatino Linotype, Calibri or Courier New then you have to change it. Just hit control A and change it to Times New Roman. Oh, and be sure it’s a size 12.
- References: for years, we were taught to have the phrase "References Available Upon Request" in bold at the bottom of our resumes. Most human resource professionals are against this nowadays because they’re going to ask for it so just delete it.
- File Document: if the name of your document is "resume" then be sure to revise it to John Smith Resume or Jane Doe Resume. Also, make a copy of your resume with a .PDF file so when you print it out on another computer nothing will be changed.
- Read Aloud: take a moment and quickly read out loud the resume from top to bottom. You don’t have to act as if you’re delivering an address, just quickly read it.
2. If You Only Have 5 Minutes
Five minutes may not be enough to reconstruct your resume, but it is ample time to do some modest adjustments, additions and revisions. It may not seem like enough time, but if you focus strictly on your resume as opposed to checking your email or Facebook then it should suffice.
Here are six things you can do with five minutes:
- Education: does your high school diploma still show up on your resume? If yes, get rid of it immediately. It’s unnecessary. Also, if you’ve graduated from college or university several years ago, delete the years and place it under your experience.
- Skills Section: as the years go by; you start to develop more skills, whether it’s coding, accounting, languages, website design and so on. This can be of tremendous help. But whatever you do, do not include Microsoft Office. Most people know how to use it, and hiring managers just don’t care anymore. It’s a prerequisite these days.
- Boring Language: why are you still using boring adjectives and verbs in your resume? It can be pretty monotonous for a HR manager to read that you’re detail-oriented or experienced. All of the other candidates seem to be, so what makes you so special?
- Erase or Modify Mission Statements: the fact that you are a hard worker looking to bring your skills to the company isn’t going to brighten up a hiring manager’s day. Mission statements have greatly changed over the past decade. If you’re a writer, then you can come up with something clever. But if you’re not then just hit the backspace on this one.
- Spacing: perhaps you’re running out of space on your resume describing your stupendous talents. If that’s the case, then shrink your top and bottom margins to 0.5″ and your side margins to a minimum 0.75″.
- Bullet Points: do not have more than six bullet points for each job title. If you do then simplify, condense and prioritize. As the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne used to say, "simplify, simplify, simplify!"
3. If You Only Have 20 Minutes
You have 20 minutes to update your resume. This should definitely be a lot better than the five minutes you had. Twenty minutes is sufficient time to get your resume looking like it was made just yesterday as opposed to when you were fresh out of college or even high school.
Here are three things you can do to update your resume in 20 minutes:
- The Top: you’ll want to make the top of your resume stand out and pop to the eye of the one reading it. You could think about adding (clickable) links to your social media profiles or personal blog. You could also experiment with various fonts and sizes.
- Qualifications Section: if you have space in your resume then perhaps consider inserting a qualifications section. In most instances, this should have either six sentences or five bullet points highlighting your achievements, skills and perhaps things you’ve experienced.
- Word Cloud Generator: to find out what keywords are jumping out of the resume the most and will keep the hiring manager entertained, copy and paste your resume into a word cloud generator, like Word It Out or Wordle.
4. If You Only Have 30 Minutes
You definitely have a longer amount of time to ensure your resume is fit to be seen by hiring managers, HR leaders, executives, company founders and other VIPs! Want to do more for your resume? Here are four things you can do when you have 30 minutes:
- Restructure: if you’re not "feeling" the resume then perhaps a restructuring of the resume would help. You can find an array of resume templates online (click here and here) or you can search for some on Microsoft Office.
- Get Others to Read it: if you know one of your professional friends is online right now then ask them to take a gander at your resume. Or, better yet, try to find someone anonymous who doesn’t know and ask them to read your resume. There are many forums for this.
- Cross-Reference on Social Media: now that you have a little bit more time then head on over to your LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter profiles and ensure that all of the job titles and dates match perfectly with your resume. HR departments are astute in finding fibs and errors.
- Your Professional Friends’ Resumes: once again, if you know one of your professional acquaintances is online then ask them if you could take a peek at their resume. If they have been successful then you should pretty much replicate their CVs.
5. If You Have the Entire 45 Minutes
Who has 45 minutes these days? Not a lot of people. But if you do then these 45 minutes should be used wisely. Here are two things you can do with these 45 minutes:
- Make Multiple Resumes: in a perfect world, we should have different types of resumes that have multiple formats, styles and keywords. Everyone recommends this but perhaps we’re just too lazy to do this. Nonetheless, you should use your A-plus resume and produce at least three other kinds of resumes.
- Print & Edit: take these 45 minutes to print out these resumes, read them and edit each one with a red pen. It’s a lot easier to find misprints, typos and other incorrect information on paper than on the computer.
See Also: Top 5 Resume Myths
Writing a resume has become somewhat of a science in today’s world. Back in the day, it was simple: write down your contact information, list your experience, provide your references and then you’re done. Today, it’s about keywords, formats and overall uniqueness. Indeed, time is often your enemy, but if you have a 45-minute window then take that time and use it to update your resume. Who knows when you will need it? It could be tomorrow, especially in this economy.
What has been your experience writing the perfect resume? Let us know in the comments section...