New Year, New Resume

If one of your new year's resolutions to find a new job, maybe it's also time for a new resume. After all, isn't your current resume so 2010? Here are four tips for improving your resume for the new year.

Be Unique

If there is something unique or memorable about you or your work experience, include it in your resume (within reason). When I graduated from college, I had little enough work experience that it still made sense to include my high school job acting at an amusement park on my resume. In ever single job interview I had that year, the reviewers mentioned how my resume stood out because I used to work as Cinderella.

Once I had more work experience, I (reluctantly) knocked the amusement park off of my resume. But since then I've included a “Special Skills” section that briefly lists similarly memorable information.

Another great place to make yourself be memorable is in the subject line of your email if you’re applying online. Online job postings can net hundreds or even thousands of responses that can be difficult to sift through. When I was a full-time freelance writer, I started changing the subject line of my emails from things like “Experienced copywriter available” to “Spunky and experienced copywriter available.” The number of responses I received shot up as soon as I made the unique addition of "spunky."

Be Honest

Don't include skills because you think you can fudge your way through the interview and learn what you need to know before starting the job. If you really think you need to know how to use Photoshop or WordPress to get the kind of job you're looking for, take the time to learn now. Several employers test an interviewee's skills during the interview, making for pretty decent chances that you will get caught.

Be Specific

Look at how you describe your work experience. If you’re only listing what your job responsibilities were, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Highlight tasks you worked on and their outcomes. Did you help streamline a regular office procedure? Head a major project that increased ROI? Include these on your resume.

Be Succinct

Unless a job asks for your full Curriculum Vitae, it’s best to keep your resume to a page. Include information that is the most pertinent to the job you are applying for, but without making it seem like there were major gaps in your employment (if you worked for five years as a chef and are applying to be an accountant, it’s better to list your chef job than to make it appear as if there were five years you just didn’t work). This might mean creating separate resumes for different job applications, but the time spent targeting your resumes can be worth it.

Want more resume-writing advice, or are you just starting out with your first resume? Check out Paul Michaels’s 12 steps to writing a great resume.

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