How to update your resume to advance your career

Time to update your resume

If you’re not currently looking for a new job, chances are your resume is collecting virtual cobwebs. And the truth is, most people don’t touch their resumes until they renew their job hunt, wondering why they should spend the time rewriting it if they’re content in their current role.

However, your resume (and LinkedIn profile!) should be something that is a constant work in progress, much like your career. While you work you are learning new skills, acquiring knowledge, and perhaps using new technology, completing certifications, training or volunteering. These are valuable experiences that can bring opportunities your way and position you as an ideal candidate for a future job. The problem is, if you wait too long to add these newfound capabilities to your resume and professional online profile, they may be forgotten and neglected. That’s why it is always a good idea to annually update your resume to aid in your career progression.

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, this doesn’t mean a company isn’t looking for someone exactly like you. Recruiters or people looking to collaborate on projects are often actively keeping an eye out for the perfect fit. If they call you up asking for your resume—or come across your recently updated and impressive LinkedIn profile – there’s a greater chance to impress them.

And that’s not all! Having an updated resume and LinkedIn profile can be extremely beneficial should opportunities such as a promotion, award or development opportunities arise.

So, if you’re needing to dust those cobwebs off your resume, here are some tips to help you give it the refresh it needs.


Update your skills

It sounds obvious, but after working in the same role for a while it can be all too easy to think you haven’t learnt anything new. After all, you do the same thing every day, right? Wrong. This is a common misconception many people have and why valuable skills often get left off resumes.

Annually updating your resume allows you to look back on the last 12 months and really ask yourself what you’ve achieved and accomplished during this time. Have you completed a certification or undertaken training? Have you become proficient in using a new tech platform? Started giving presentations regularly? Take a look at your resume’s skills section and make sure you have listed all of your professional skills, both soft and hard. Reflection is always beneficial, and it also provides you with the opportunity to identify what areas you want to develop next.

This is also a good time to delete some of those skills which might be assumed or redundant. For example, while you may be proficient in Lotus Notes, this software is no longer available and therefore not as important to employers as the current system you use.


Consider the current and future climate

While Australia seems to be through the worst of the pandemic, there is still uncertainty surrounding return to workplaces, and hybrid teams are likely to be in place for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, some companies may choose to move forward in this way indefinitely, pandemic or not.

If you worked remotely during the last 12 months, it can be useful to include the skills you developed while doing this on your resume, as this is something many employers and Hiring Managers will be on the lookout for.

Ask yourself if there were any new technologies you became proficient in during this time, including communication software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams or project management tools like Trello or Asana. Demonstrating that you have some knowledge and understanding of how these work will likely be looked upon favourably.

It can also be helpful to demonstrate that you are able to work autonomously by providing examples of projects you completed or excellent results you achieved while working from home.


Improve search functionality and keywords

If you’ve been out of the job searching game for a while, or just haven’t heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), this is definitely something you should consider when updating your resume.

You see, when you apply for a role with a company or recruitment agency, there’s a chance your resume and profile will be saved within a database, so that when a suitable role becomes available, the Hiring Manager can simply conduct a database. Job seeker platforms, such as SEEK, LinkedIn and Indeed, use a similar system that sees job seekers’ details and resumes saved, enabling employers to then use the search functionality to look for potential candidates that have the skills for the role.

To improve your searchability and increase your chances of being found in these databases, it is worthwhile to incorporate basic SEO principles into your resume, such as strategic keywords, optimising readability, and saving the document in a search-friendly format. You can find more tips on improving your resume search functionality here.


Update your references

It is always a good idea to revisit your referees annually to ensure that these are still the people who you would trust to speak highly of you, and that their contact information is still correct if it has been included.

It is also useful to consider if there is anyone in your current or previous role who you might like to include, perhaps a direct manager or even a senior member of a team that you might have done some project work with. Whoever it is, make sure to ask them if they’d be happy to be a referee before including them.


Don’t forget your online presence

While a resume is perhaps the most important tool in your job seeking toolbox if you are actively searching for a job, your online presence is one of the best ways for new opportunities to find you.

Though many roles are advertised through job search platforms, there are also many that are not, meaning Hiring Managers and Recruiters will actively seek out people who look like the best fit for the role. Not only will they search through their online databases to do this, they will also likely scour LinkedIn to get a better understanding of a person’s skills and professional background.

For this reason it is incredibly important to keep your professional platforms, such as LinkedIn, updated, as you might find a new and exciting opportunity fall into your lap. If you have applied for a role through Seek or Indeed in the last few years, it is also worthwhile to login and update your resume, making sure you have the settings selected to allow potential employers to view your details.


If you are applying for jobs and would like more useful tips and advice, visit our career resources page where you’ll find everything from resume templates to our job interview guide.

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