Resume Tune-Up 101

If there is one thing Sherry Kowtko has learned this year, it’s that a good resume is never really finished — it should always be changing.

In fact, Kowtko says, although she’s been looking for work for more than five months, only this last month did her resume really take shape and her job search take off.

“I have gotten phone interviews, I now have a couple of face-to-face interviews set up, so I’m thinking maybe some of my changes did help”, says Kowtko.

Such changes are what experts say every job seeker should be making.

“If you really want to stand out, you want to point to things that are specific to you as a professional that no one else has”, advises Krista Canfield of LinkedIn.

The folks at LinkedIn recently mined the profiles of their 85 million users to find the most overused phrases — the ones you’ll want to get rid of.

Topping the list: extensive experience.

“If I’m a sales professional and I’m looking for new clients I want those clients to know I have eight to ten years of experience, not extensive experience”, says Canfield. “Extensive could mean a year, it could mean two years, three years? Being more specific is really important.”

“I see thousands of resumes. “The most common mistake that it’s a biography”, says Techskills” Megan Pittsley.

Pittsley is Director of Career Services at TechSkills of San Jose.

“If it’s not something you’ve done in the past fifteen years, someone really is probably not going to hire you to do that today”, warns Pittsley.

Pittsley says the smartest job seekers create, in essence, a new resume for each job opening, going so far as to take keywords out of the actual job description and working them into their resume.

It is a lot of work, so you need to be choosy about where you apply.

“And really putting a lot of effort into each application, it should be taking you probably an hour for each cover letter and resume for each position”, advises Pittsley.

Another great tip for those who have their resumes posted on job-search sites is to update it — even if it’s a small change — at least once a week.

That’s because when recruiters search those sites, the newest resumes matching the qualifications are the first ones they see.

“So if you haven’t updated or refreshed your resume on the job boards in months, I’m not even going to find you”, warns Pittsley. “You are going to be four pages back, and I’m already going to have my candidate before I get there.”

Of course, resumes are just the beginning of the job search — the “foot-in-the-door”, if you will.

But if you do it right, what you learn from creating the resume is going to help you once in that door.

“I think all these tips help one recognize skills, one’s own value, basically”, says Kowtko. “Even as a human being.”

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