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  • Writer's pictureLori A. Jazvac, MRW

Seeking a New role? It Just Might Be Time for a Complete Resume Recustomization

When you already have a resume, at a certain point you’re faced with a dilemma: Should I update my existing resume, or is it time to completely recustomize it?

This guide will help give you direction to help you decide when it’s time to refresh — and when it’s time to revamp it entirely.

When you have a great, master-level resume — especially one created by a professional Master Resume Writer — it can be difficult to decide to discard it and start over. A Master Resume Writer leverages employment strategy to create a resume that is right for you!

But even the best formats can become outdated as technology and resume strategies change. And what worked in one profession may not be appropriate in another. Also, you cannot use one resume to apply for all targeted roles as each role and industry is very distinct. But how do you know when it’s time to refresh — or start fresh?

Keep in mind the importance of brand engineering when it comes to resume strategy.

Here are some questions to help you decide:

How long ago was your resume created?

* If your resume was created within the last year to 18 months, and you’re seeking a similar role to your current position, the answer is simple:

Update your existing document!

* If the resume was created 18 months ago up to 3 years ago, and you’re seeking a similar role, the right answer is to definitely update the existing resume.

* If the resume was created between 3-5 years ago, examine the resume format. If the structure is still modern in appearance, and adding the new information doesn’t substantially affect the format, a refresh is most likely the right choice. Any resume is that is older than a year or even two years warrants a complete recustomization.

* If the resume was created more than five years ago, 99 times out of 100, the right answer is to start over. Trends change — for example, the use of colour on resumes, or removing physical addresses. Neither of those factors alone makes a document look outdated, but a fresh format can make the resume even more effective.

How long ago was your resume last updated?

* If your resume was updated in the last 12 months, a refresh is likely appropriate. There probably isn’t a whole lot that has changed in terms of format or technology.

* Has it been up to three years since your most recent update? The answer whether to refresh or start fresh will depend. As with a new resume, consider whether the format is still relevant and whether the new content you’re adding will fit into the existing structure.

* If it’s been more than three years since your resume was last updated, consider an overhaul. A resume that was created three years ago will often be substantially more modern in content and appearance than one that was simply updated three years ago. Thus, starting fresh is probably the right approach.

Are you seeking a new role in the same profession, or are you changing professions?

* If you are pursuing a new role in a different field, whether to refresh or start fresh depends on if the industry you are targeting has different standards for resumes than your current industry. If you are a sales representative for a creative company (a children’s toy manufacturer, for example) and you’re pursuing a sales representative position in the financial services industry, you may want to take a fresh approach to your resume’s format and appearance.

* If, however, you’re an accountant for a large school district and you’re seeking an accounting position for a mid-sized private company, you may be able to keep the same content and format.

* If you are changing careers entirely, you will want to start fresh. You can’t use the same resume for substantially different positions. If you’re a teacher and you want to pursue an outside sales role, your education-focused resume probably won’t work. If you’re a former trial lawyer who is seeking a role in non-profit administration, you’ll want a new format that showcases your transferable skills.

* There’s a middle ground to consider. If you’re pursuing a similar career, but not exactly, you may be able to retarget your existing resume without starting entirely from scratch. In this situation, rely on your resume writer to guide you to the right path.

Is there an “Objective” statement at the top of your resume?

* If the answer is yes, you need an overhaul. Even removing the objective statement probably won’t be enough to meet the standards of a modern resume, since the content in the top 1/3 of the resume - the summary profile - is so critical. (It needs to be replaced with branding statements and content that showcases your qualifications.)

Does your resume use outdated or inappropriate fonts?

* Using fonts such as Times New Roman might indicate a “dated” look, the answer may be as simple as selecting all the text and choosing a more modern body font (Calibri, Tahoma) that is professional, clean, and readable. But having a font like Times New Roman or Comic Sans on your resume may also be a sign that the whole document needs a fresh approach.

* Font choice can be a sign that your resume may need an overhaul. Dated fonts may be a symptom that you need to do more than simply selecting new fonts.

Are you using a functional resume format?

* Functional resumes — which use a format that focuses more on skills than on chronological work experience — have lost favour in recent years because they are not often compatible with how applicant tracking systems (ATS) parse (or organize) data. Because the format often omits employment dates — and may not even list specific jobs or employers — the resume data may not populate the fields correctly in some ATS software. In addition, many recruiters and hiring managers don’t like functional formats.

* A chrono-functional, hybrid, or combination format may not work with some ATS software, especially if there are text boxes or multiple tables that obscure important information. But more important, a resume using one of these formats may be deemed to be “out of date” or “not modern.” There are more appropriate ways to highlight skills and accomplishments even when the work history may not be very appealing in a strictly chronological sense.

The key: Do not spend all your time applying online - target the hidden job market and bypass ATS systems. Securing a job through networking in conjunction with a solid resume is most effective.

Has your existing resume become too long?

* Resume length isn’t cut-and-dry. Resumes or CVs in some professions run 3-4 pages. The standard is usually 2 pages. But if your resume is 3 pages and includes 25 years of work experience in excruciating detail, it may be time to start completely from scratch.

The reason is: If you’ve just constantly added new positions without thinking through the strategy of what you’re including on your resume, it may be best to reinvent it.

Does your resume have an unattractive or "blah" appearance?

* This is common if you had your resume professionally written and designed, but you’ve since tried to keep it up to date yourself. Especially for beautiful, modern designs, it can be difficult to add information without affecting the formatting. In this case, you may only need a simple update, but you should probably return to the original creator to ensure that the integrity of the content and formatting remain intact.

These scenarios bring up another important question: How often should you update your resume?

Here are some guidelines:

* Anytime you take on a new role (new job or promotion), update your resume. You may wait 30-90 days to add it to make sure that the position is a good fit and you’re going to stay in the role, but three months is usually a sufficient time to make that decision.

* You should review your resume at a minimum at least once a year. Evaluate your current roles and responsibilities, update any accomplishments, list new skills, and add in any new education, training, or volunteer activities.

* Update the resume when something significant happens — even if it’s only been a few months since your last update. That could be completing a certification, adding a new skill to your repertoire, or finishing a big project. Add information while it’s fresh in your mind so you don’t forget to include all the important details.

* If you have been restructured, you’ll need to include the ending date of your last position on your resume. You can take advantage of a very short window (30 days or less) to apply for roles while your current position still says it is “to present,” but much beyond that could ward off prospective hiring managers when they learn you’re currently out of work and you didn’t update your resume accordingly.

The key thing:
Ensure that you have addressed any employment gaps, whether that be through a course, volunteer role, or board leadership role. The market is competitive and unsightly gaps can prove to be a cause for concern for prospective employers or recruiters.

* If you’re ready for something new, having a fresh, modern resume ready to showcase is important. You never know when the right opportunity might open up and if you don’t have a compelling, accomplishment-focused resume ready, you might miss out on a lot of great opportunities!

When in doubt about anything related to your resume or job search, ask your master resume writer! Career industry professionals stay up to date about trends in resumes and hiring technology and will be able to advise you about the best solution for your specific needs.

Contact Creative Horizons Communications - we help you achieve robust job search and brand marketing results! View our resume samples and success stories for more information on crafting the best resume.

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