5 times to completely overhaul your resume

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(MoneyWatch) Many headhunters advise tweaking your resume before you apply to a job. That way, you can make sure to hit certain keywords or mention the types of experience the recruiter wants to see. But sometimes, a tweak isn't going to be enough. These are five times in your career you should consider scrapping your resume and giving it a massive overhaul:

You're branching out on your own.

If you've been in the corporate world and are becoming a consultant, your resume will now be serving a different purpose. "You're no longer using that document to entice a hiring manager; you're using it to entice a business opportunity -- a new client, a speaking opportunity, a contract, etc.," says Jenny Foss, career advisor and founder of JobJenny.com. Your revised resume should speak directly to your new target audience.

You're returning after a few years off.

This overhaul is particularly relevant to mothers getting back into the workforce after raising kids. "You need to showcase your early career work strategically, but also consider ways in which you can close the gap. Did you coordinate the auction at your child's school for the past three years (which, for sure, would demonstrate your project management and volunteer coordination skills)? Did you work for a nonprofit? These need to be showcased on the new resume in a prominent fashion," says Foss.

You're switching industries or job functions.

In this case, you won't change the jobs you list, but the skills you acquired in each position. "Pull out the accomplishments that are most pertinent to the new position you're applying for," says Brad Karsh, president of JB Training Solutions. For instance, say you're planning a move from executive assisting to interior design. Play up the project management experience you gained while planning the annual company off-site, rather than your data entry and phone skills.

You're looking for a major promotion.

If you're changing your search from middle management to executive level positions, it might be time to radically alter your resume. "While your resume details may stay the same, the voice and emphasis really needs to focus on leadership and vision over management and execution. If you simply build on what is written before, you will probably sound more junior and less strategic than you intend," says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, author of "Six Steps to Job Search Success."

You want some perspective.

Primarily, you write your resume for others to use when vetting you. But your CV can also serve to help you clarify your own career goals. "Writing your resume is a great way to take stock of what you have accomplished and what is meaningful to you now. Because you can't include every single project, what you elect to leave in and what you omit says something about your priorities and how you want to position yourself going forward," says Ceniza-Levine.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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