Spring Cleaning for Your Resume

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If you're sprung on the idea of putting spring into your job search, there's no better place to start than with cleaning up your resume. Polishing both the look and the content of your resume can bolster your confidence in all aspects of your search. Remember that it can take a village to take your resume to the next level, and feedback from friends and former colleagues is vital. Here are tips on how to upgrade and refocus your resume so that you stand out in your field.

Toss Out Clutter
Don't kid yourself — the cosmetic side of your resume matters. "The first thing I take in when I look at a submitted resume is the white space," says Hiring Manager Dawn Marksbury. "It tells me that an applicant is savvy about how they present themselves and they have a sense of what I want to see." From a purely superficial standpoint, you want to be easy on the reader's eye with generous amounts of empty space. Just as the focus of the content should be laser sharp, the look should be too.

Prune Content
Like a garden, the content of your resume can become overrun with weeds and sentences growing out of control. Remember that less is more. Instead of listing multiple job duties and descriptions, sell results and accomplishments. Set limits on your job history. Clip the hedges on long, meandering sentences and make them concise and punchy. Grab a thesaurus and update your action words with new variations. The most important thing to remember about content is to tailor each resume to the specific position you are pursuing.

Rearrange
Any interior decorator will tell you that rearranging a roomful of furniture can make all the difference in the world. Try rearranging your chronological resume into a functional one. Even if you don't decide to stick with this format, it will help you sell your other strong points. Rearrange sentences for maximum effect. If you need to, add additional pieces like current keywords and up-to-the minute phrases. Anything that sounds outdated probably is and should go.

Consult Outside Sources
Family, friends and former coworkers are great sounding boards when you want to give your resume a makeover. Ask to see other peoples' resumes and have them proofread yours and offer suggestions. Get an honest assessment and don't be shy about seeking out a professional resume writer to help you take things to the next level. Professional Web sites are another great resource to access. There are sites where you can post your resume and receive constructive feedback from people in the industry you are interested in.

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