Spring Clean your Resume

by Alexis Rohlfing, Head Editor, INALJ New Hampshire

Spring Clean your Resume

alexisrohlfingSpring has finally sprung! With it, we all have our spring rituals—going back outside every day without being bundled, spring vacation, cookouts, and spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is probably the least favorite, at least for those who have to do most of it, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. We clear out the dirt and dust that can build up over a winter and, in its place, we find ways to freshen our surroundings. Your resume is no different. Every so often, we need to reassess and take stock of our resume—what it looks like, what it says, and how it presents us to the world.

Now, you can make the argument that you should be looking at your resume more often, and if you can then by all means, do! But by building this into your spring rituals, you can make sure that you have done a deep review at least once a year, whether you are in the market for a job or not. Once you have settled into a job and are not actively looking, it can be easy to leave the resume file alone, gathering metaphorical dust on your hard drive. The problem is that, when you need it, you’ll have a whole lot of clean up you have to do before you can submit an application, causing unneeded stress.

Spring cleaning in the home has three major steps, and the same steps can be applied to your resume spring clean: deep clean, rearrange, and prettying things up.

• Deep cleaning—no one ever likes deep cleaning their home. It usually involves clearing out grease that has been trapped, or dirt that has been building in corners. It can be messy or painful and time consuming to book, but deep cleaning is necessary and gives you a good foundation upon which to arrange your home. The same is true of deep cleaning your resume. This is the first step where you have to prepare all the elements that will remain a part of your resume. This is when you assess the skills and jobs that are listed, and decide “Do I need that?” Now is the time to decide if you really need your college coffee shop job on the list—have any transferrable skills been accounted for under other positions? Do the achievements that you have listed still have relevance to the career track that you are pursuing? An easy way to whittle things down is to take the individual elements and paste them into a clean word document, as well as pasting in any elements that you know you want to include from your past year professionally. From there, you can whittle down the list to make sure that the best you have to offer is included in your resume

• Rearranging—Every spring, I take a look around my apartment at the furniture I have and think about whether everything is in the best possible place. Even if you don’t have too much that can be added, finding a new arrangement can make all the difference. Now that you have your resume elements, you have to decide if you want to keep the same look you have used in the past. There is always the question of resume vs. CV, and the various formats that can go along with that choice. My favorite resource for resume and CV formatting is Purdue’s OWL. They have a four part series on resumes, as well as resume design and samples. OWL also has a lot of good writing resources in general as well.

• Pretty it up—So you have your base elements, you’ve decided on your general format. What is left to do? The only thing left is the equivalent of dressing up your home with flowers or accent pieces. Now, you need to decide on font, color, and the aesthetics of your resume. Because library and information professional jobs can vary widely in terms of scope and possible employer, this is not a step to be taken lightly. If you are applying to an information professional job with a financial firm, law firm, or some other field that is traditionally more conservative, you do not want to make your resume too ‘out there’ or ‘over the top.’ Conversely, if you are applying for a field that is traditionally less conservative or which will allow for varying designs and creativity in a resume, take advantage of that in a way that will showcase your skills and what you bring to the job. Above all, make sure that the aesthetics of your resume show off your skills and experience, and help make the case for why the hiring manager should call YOU.