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6 tips for refreshing your resume

You're perfectly happy in your current job, and everything seems to be going well, so no need to update your resume, right? Hardly. Writing a resume can be tedious, and it's difficult to remember the things you accomplished in your last position. That means you should update your resume often.

If it's been more than a year since you did that, its time for a refresh. Here are six tips for writing a great resume:

1. It's about accomplishments, not responsibilities. Make sure your resume doesn't read like a generic job description. It should be about what you've accomplished. The difference can be subtle. For instance, instead of:

  • Responsible for ordering office supplies and maintaining vendor relationships

write:

  • Managed office supply budget of $45,000
  • Reduced office supply costs by 10 percent by negotiating new rates with vendors and reducing waste

Instead of:

  • Provided employee-relations support for accounting business unit

write:

  • Provided employee relations support for 300-person accounting business unit by
    • providing regular classes on how to give and receive feedback
    • coaching employees on organizational and interpersonal skills (average 3 employees per week)
    • addressing sensitive issues, such as dress code violations, hygiene issues and personality conflicts
    • successfully conducted 3 sexual harassment investigations, where issues were completely resolved

See the difference? Numbers are great. Details are great.

2. Look back at your old performance appraisals. Can't remember what you did since you've been in this job? Take a look back at what your boss thinks you are great at (and what she thinks you're not so great at). Highlight your skills on your resume.

3. Write more information that you really need. Updating your resume is for your purposes and not to get a specific job. When you tailor your resume for a particular job, you'll want to emphasize some things over others. But get it all down on paper now, so you don't forget. For example, list every type of software you know how to use. It may not make it to the final cut on your resume, but you don't want to miss out on a job because you forgot to include that you know SAP.

4. Search LinkedIn. Sometimes it's really difficult to explain what it is that you do and what you have accomplished. You know it, intuitively, but have difficulty expressing it. Surf LinkedIn and read what people in similar jobs have written. Obviously, don't copy and paste their accomplishments; rather, use it as a guide to help you figure out what you've done.

5. Take a look at the your old jobs, too. Just because you got your current job using your old resume doesn't mean that your old entries are perfect. Make sure they are written to showcase your accomplishments, and include only important things. Re-reading the old entries may spark your memory and help you add additional detail.

6. Track down references. If you're not job hunting, this isn't critical, but if you're not sure where your old boss is, start looking to find her now. Begin with LinkedIn and move on to old co-workers and other industry people. You don't need to ask people to be a reference for you, but make sure you have a way to contact them should you need them. Additionally, consider sending a quick note about something of interest to that person. Such networking doesn't have to be painful. Just a, "Hey Jane, I saw this article on new breeds of chickens and I thought you'd find it interesting. Hope all is well with you!"; or, "I saw on LinkedIn that you now work for George's Tooth Barn. My cousin used to work there. Small world!" The point is to keep your name in their mind, so that should you need a reference in the future you don't call and have your old boss say, "Who are you again?"

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