Why is it so hard for some of us to simply update our resume? 

It sounds easy, but for most, it’s tough.  

Why? It is yours and personal. When you write about your own experience and skills, you tend to get self-critical and overthink every word, verb tense, and bullet point. So, assuming you have an old version of your resume saved somewhere, here are 5 tips to help you quickly update your resume. 

Start with Your Latest Role: Start by listing your company name, job title, and dates of employment. Now, let the ideas flow! Write as many bullets as possible about what you do. Just write and don’t edit as you go. Editing each bullet as you write them interrupts the natural flow of thoughts. If you need inspiration to write fresh bullets, find the original job description for your role and repurpose some of those responsibilities. Ideally, you want a total of 7-12 bullets, written in the third person, present tense. List details ranging from specific projects, quantifiable outcomes, individual achievements, size of the team, hyperlinks to relevant examples of work, skills, and technologies utilized. Once you have written all your bullets, go back to re-read it to make edits. (P.S. Grammarly is free and helps a lot.) 

Craft a Compelling Summary: If you don’t already have a summary, add one. It is the first thing people read on your resume, so you can control the narrative. For the first bullet, you should consider “titling” yourself, so it’s clear to the reader what you do. Add your years of relevant experience at the end of the first bullet. The next few points should hit on your top 3-5 most marketable skills. Providing detail on major accomplishments, and recent projects can be helpful to articulate these skills.  

Prioritize for Impact: Studies have shown how people read resumes using an eye heat map, with the F-Shaped pattern being the most common. This means the first couple lines of your summary and most recent work experience will be all that is read. Be sure to re-order bullets to list your most relevant and marketable experience first. You may want to briefly mention in your summary, important content that is hidden on the last page of your resume. Don’t let stuff like master’s degrees, certifications, and publications get buried.  

Trim the Past, but Don’t Erase It: For earlier roles, the number of bullets can become less and less as years pass. For your last couple of jobs, highlighting the primary responsibilities in seven bullets or less is appropriate. For jobs held over 15-20 years ago, you can get away with just listing the company name and job title. For jobs over 20 years ago, it’s up to you if you want to list them at all. This is a personal choice for each person. Most importantly, do NOT remove important details from your most recent couple of jobs to keep your resume to one or two pages. Your resume should be as long as it needs to be, as long it doesn’t exceed four pages. 

Be Redundant: Yes, be redundant. Don’t worry if important experience in your summary is already listed on your work experience. This repetition can drive a point and reinforce your strengths. If I see a term like “vendor management” in the summary, again in the skills section, and in your work experience, I’ll get the impression you are really experienced in vendor management. To help make the key content shine, avoid bullets dedicated to personal traits as it makes things too wordy and somewhat cheesy. Everyone is a self-starter with great communication skills, so just skip the fluff.  

Remember, you’re not just listing your job roles; you are framing your career story.  For further guidance on this, feel free to reach out to us at BridgeView. We’re here to help.  

Written: January 2024