Get Ready for the New Year by Updating Your Resume

Soldiers attend a career fair in Okinawa.
Members of the U.S. military community interact with over 30 different employers during the annual Okinawa Career Fair. (U.S. Marine Corps/Karis Mattingly)

Hopefully, you aren't slowing down your job search because it's the end of the year. As I've written about previously here on, many employers hire toward the end of a calendar year, hoping to start the new year with a new team in place.

These employers also recognize that job seekers are often more flexible and available to interview at the end of the year, when their schedules might be lighter. For these and other reasons, keep up the search regardless of the calendar.

If your plans include launching a job search after the holidays, updating your resume is a good step. Have you recently transitioned out of the military? You'll need a resume. If you've been in the workforce for a while but aren't finding employers attracted to you, updating your resume will help you focus on what employers seek. Ready for a career change? Then a new resume is certainly in order for you to tell your transition and career story to a new audience.

Related: Have your resume reviewed by Monster for free

Step 1: What needs to change?

If you currently have a resume that isn't getting noticed by potential employers, look at what might need to change. Consider:

  • Is your information current and updated?
  • Are you using the same keywords and key phrases as the employers you seek to attract?
  • Are you using your resume to solidify your personal brand?
  • Does your resume reflect the value you can offer a new employer?
  • Is the resume's formatting attractive and easy to read?
  • Have you listed the accomplishments, skills and credentials that employers are looking to see?
  • Have you quantified results from your actions? Or are you listing the action without highlighting the positive impact that came from it?
  • Is your resume too long? Are you including information that's not relevant and could be removed?
  • Does your resume make it clear that you'd fit into the company's culture? Are you highlighting the values the employer seeks?
  • Do you tell a story of your career to date? Or is your resume a random list of past experiences, without connecting them together to paint a picture of value?

Related: Search for Veteran Jobs

When it comes to resumes, more is not always better. A long, abstract and unfocused resume makes it harder for an employer to see your value, identify ways to fit you into the company and understand your goals. Do the work for the employer by ensuring your resume is a focused, succinct and clear expression of your past career and future contribution.

Step 2: Who'll be reading your resume?

Before you start slashing content from your resume or removing all narrative in exchange for several bulleted lists, consider your audience. Who'll be reading your resume -- an online application system or a human being? If a person, what does that person care about and want to see when evaluating your past and determining your future?

Modify your resume to each opportunity to ensure you're customizing the document to meet the skills required, line up with the keywords the employer will search for and speak to the goals and needs of the reader. It's crucial that your customization still reflect your authentic value and contribution, but don't assume each reader will evaluate you based on one uniform set of standards or goals.

Step 3: Updating experiences, skills and accomplishments

Even when you're not in a job search, it's a healthy step to periodically update your resume with new skills and certifications obtained, accomplishments and key experiences that highlight your career path. Then, when you need to produce a current resume, you're not trying to recreate the past from memory.

With the holiday season upon us, look at your resume through a critical eye. Likely, your resume is not the only piece of information an employer will use to evaluate your candidacy for a job, but it is an important one. Take time to make sure your resume is working as hard as you are.

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