We are living in really strange and, to varying degrees, difficult times right now. I was taking a walk (now an almost daily occurrence) yesterday and was struck by how a passing Metro bus was running hand washing instructions across its marquee. Most everyone is navigating a new normal whether your workload has increased (Thank you to our healthcare workers and first responders!) shifted to your home (hello, social distancing), or unexpectedly dried up (Please continue to support small, local businesses). For those of us blessed enough to have a lot more time on our hands, now is the perfect moment to do all the things we say we never have time for.

Why Should I Do This Now?

I’m using this time to reflect, plan, and strategize, so that when we’re able to emerge back into society, I’ll have some momentum to keep making things happen. It is challenging to be as productive as we were just two weeks ago but now is not the time to slack. Indeed, creativity and strong focus are required in order to continue demonstrating value at work, especially. Think about where you want to propel your career, whether that includes a promotion, switching jobs/industries, or starting a business. Then get your paperwork in order.

Today’s post is the second installment in my Spring Clean Your Life series and focuses on how to review and refine your resume and/or LinkedIn profile. To provide some context as to how I’m qualified to give advice in this arena, I have helped hundreds of people strengthen their resumes to get the jobs they wanted since my time as a career advisor in grad school. And I’m currently an HR professional with a bomb resume and LinkedIn, both of which have recruiters hitting me up all. the. time. I update mine regularly and recommend you do the same. Here’s how.

Steps to Spring Clean Your Resume

  • Get very clear on what it is you want to do. What are you very good at? What is your dream job?  What kind of company do you want to work for? Keep these things in mind as you review your resume to make sure it sends the right message.
  • Highlight the experience(s) of which you are most proud and that are most closely aligned with your aspirations.
    • Start every bullet point with an action word. “Responsible for” is just not compelling. Think critically about what it is you actually do and how best to describe it. Crack a thesaurus and Google synonyms, if you need to. What words are compelling?
      • Lead
      • Interpret
      • Collaborate
      • Develop
      • Facilitate
    • In relation to the last tip, don’t start all your bullet points with the same action word. Change it up or the person reading your resume will get bored.
  • Cut the fluff. Everyone can see right through it. If you’re struggling to fill up a page, look up job descriptions for your role(s) and similar ones. Consider including things like volunteer experience to tell a fuller story.
  • Check verb tenses. As your career progresses and current roles become previous roles, make sure you change the action words to past tense.
  • Use keywords. Do a quick search for jobs you’d like to have at different companies on LinkedIn and Google, and take note of the keywords used in those job descriptions. Which can you incorporate into your professional summary and experience to make make your resume more likely to pop up in searches?
  • Remember that Microsoft Office is not a skill. Sorry. It’s expected. If, however, you are a power user of say Excel or MS Project, weave that into your experience bullets. Things that do belong under the skills section are languages you speak, read, and/or write, special certifications, coding languages, and unique computer programs you know well.
  • Reorder, as necessary. When you’re fresh out of school, your degree is the shiny new thing at the top of your resume. But the further out you are from being a recent graduate, the less important it becomes. As you gain solid, relevant experience, this can take precedence over your education. So it’s OK to move your education section further down.

Steps to Spring Clean Your LinkedIn Profile

  • Update your head shot. Has your appearance changed since you set up your LinkedIn profile? Or have you been using a selfie or a zoom-in from that wedding you were in? Then you need to update it. Here’s how to take a professional head shot at home. Set up a tripod or tap your #quarantinebae to help.
  • Don’t just copy and paste your resume. For one thing, nobody is going to read all that. Secondly, you don’t want to give it all away upfront. LinkedIn is more for building community and demonstrating credibility than it is for listing your life story.
  • Include only the most key parts of your experience bullet points. And, as with your resume, update tenses as current jobs become past jobs.
  • Fill in the About section. Just a few sentences will suffice. Here are things you can include:
    • Your two or three strongest skills
    • Industries in which you have experience
    • What you are known for, ex: “Consistently drives cost savings.”
    • Your why–what makes you passionate about your job or industry?
  • Include keywords. Do a quick search for jobs you’d like to have at different companies on LinkedIn and Google, and take note of the keywords used in those job descriptions. Which can you incorporate into your professional summary and experience to make make your resume more likely to pop up in searches?
  • Add certifications and join groups that are aligned with your professional interests, region, and industry.
  • Follow companies, thought leaders, and topics that interest you and are relevant to your career goals.
  • Ask for endorsements. Be thoughtful in who you ask and be sure to return the favor.

I hope this post is helpful to you. Sharing is caring so be sure to pin this guide to Pinterest and let me know if you have any questions. And, in case you missed it, I covered how to spring clean your cell phone (very important right now) last week. More to come soon. Thanks for reading!

P.S. a few related reads: