You've been working steadily for the past 10 to 20 years, so you haven't needed a resume since the '90s. Lucky you! But fast-forward to today: You're facing a job change and you have no clue where your resume is. Did it vaporize in the great laptop crash of '06? Is it stored on a 3-1/2 inch floppy in your attic? No idea? Let's just say you need to start over.
First, there are two rather significant changes you need to know about:
- Employers no longer want to read about your career objective.
- They're not too interested in all your past job duties, either.
Here are the modern substitutes for these formerly standard resume elements.
OLD WAY: Start with an Objective
NEW WAY: Start with a Summary of Qualifications
Meeting your career objective is up to you. Don't use that valuable spot at the top of the page to talk about what you're looking for in a job. Instead, get the hiring manager interested in your resume by summarizing what's in it for them.
Write a strong but brief summary of what makes you a great candidate for the job. Include such things as your total years of relevant experience, the skills and accomplishments that match the job you're targeting, and any impressive facts that differentiate you from the rest of the candidate pool.
OLD WAY: List past job duties or responsibilities.
NEW WAY: Describe on-the-job accomplishments, achievements, and results.
Listing what you were supposed to do doesn't tell the hiring manager anything unique about you, your abilities, or the quality of your work. Instead, focus on what you did, how you did it, and how it helped the employer. Show that you understand what it takes to make a business successful. Help them picture you in the new role.
For example, if the job description asks for someone who can do employee training, you might think you've got it covered because your resume says, "Trained new employees." OK, thinks the reader, how'd that work out for you (more to the point—how'd that work out for your employer)? Rather than simply stating the duty, think about what you really did and accomplished, and express it more like this:
Customized new-hire training to address individual learning styles
Established mentoring program to support new employees for 6 weeks, cutting annual turnover 40%.
These are just a couple of the changes that have taken place in the resume world since the '90s. But don't worry about learning them all. Just think like a hiring manager, tell the truth, leave out the irrelevant details, and make sure every word on your resume supports your qualifications for the job you're targeting.
And if you're smart, you'll build and save your resume on the web (using a tool like the Pongo Resume Builder) where it will be accessible wherever and whenever you need it in the future.
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