You’ve decided it is time to explore new career opportunities and you realize you haven’t even seen your resume since your last job search several years ago. In my experience, most candidates simply add their current job responsibilities and accomplishments to the experience section and ‘presto’, their new resume is complete. This might not be a problem for someone who has only been in the business for a few years or for candidates who very rarely change jobs. But for many, this results in resumes that run ten pages long.
One way to keep your resume fresh is to take a look at it every few months and be sure to add your accomplishments on an ongoing basis. If your resume has been untouched for a couple years, it’s probably time for a spring cleaning. Here are some helpful hints to think about when brushing up an old resume.
- Is it relevant? – If you have been in the software business for more than ten years, you probably have used several technologies over your career and many of them may be completely irrelevant. Go over the technologies on your resume and decide which ones are still relevant in today’s software world, and also which you still would feel comfortable with if given a task. ‘Relevance’ can be difficult to gauge, since some employers using legacy systems might appreciate a legacy background. If you had experience with a language ten years ago and haven’t used it since, it probably doesn’t belong on the resume.
- Stay in the present – Your most recent projects are generally the ones that are likely to get the attention of a potential new employer. A two page resume should be enough for most anyone, so be sure to use this limited space wisely by providing more details on your latest work and fewer details on older projects (only exception is if your current work is not as attractive as your prior experience). For jobs you held over ten years ago, try to summarize your experience into a few brief sentences. If you have been a professional for over ten years, internships and any non-technical positions should probably be completely omitted.
- T M I ? – ‘Too Much Information’ is the most common reason resumes reach unmanageable lengths. You may have had ten projects in the past few years at your current position, but providing every detail of each of those ten projects is both unnecessary and foolish. Remember that your resume isn’t meant to be a diary or a log of every line of code you’ve ever written – it’s meant to highlight your greatest accomplishments. By adding too much information you are simply watering down the strong message that you want to convey. Keep the resume under three pages and save a tree!
- Updated names – Software products change owners and names quite often, so stay abreast of current names for products. Java naming conventions have changed significantly over the past couple years (Java EE and Java SE replacing J2EE and J2SE), so be sure to look over your resume for any names that may be out of use.