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September is Update Your Resume Month

If the sudden collapse of several major financial institutions in 2008 taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unthinkable. Suppose you had to look for a new job tomorrow, are you ready? Are you familiar with the latest styles for formatting your resume? When was the last time you practiced responding to interview questions?

Most people wait until they are actively looking for a job to revise their resume. If you’re only updating every few years, then you might forget about some of your major accomplishments. It’s best to update your resume whenever anything changes—you complete a major project, take a class, receive a commendation or earn a new credential.

In honor of “Update Your Resume Month” which is celebrated every September, below are some resume tips.

Have different versions of your resume and be ready to modify

Last year Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, a Chicago based professional development specialist and life coach told me in an interview that generic cover letters and resumes are a thing of the past. In today’s job market, you must edit each cover letter and resume to show how you’re the best candidate for that particular job. “Those bullet points [on the resume] should be detailed and start with power words,” she said.

Just the facts

"Think more 'fact sheet' than 'short story' when writing your résumé," said J. Patrick Gorman in an article on careerbuilder.com "You either prepared financial statements or you didn't; you either installed the IT system or you didn't," states Groman, who is the co-founder of iFind Group, a Manhattan-based executive search firm.

Handling employment gaps

In an article by Kim Isaacs on Monster.com, resume expert Teena Rose states that gaps of less than a year don’t have to be explained. “Hiring managers understand job candidates will have date gaps from time to time, especially when factoring in the jobs lost during this recent recession,” says Rose.

If you’ve been out of work for more than a year, the article recommends focusing on what you did during the period of unemployment, not on why you were unemployed.

“Many activities can provide compelling resume content,” writes Isaacs. “For example, volunteering; tutoring; coaching sports; learning a new computer program; studying a foreign language; or pursuing temporary, freelance or contract work can show current experience on the resume.”

Update you LinkedIn profile too

When you change your resume, update your LinkedIn profile as well. With more than 100 million users, LinkedIn is the largest social network based on professional networking.

While you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, ask for recommendations. An article on Forbes.com by Glass Heel says you should “always be looking for recommendations, even when you’re satisfied with your job. That way, when you’re not satisfied, you’re already set. “

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