How To Update Your Resume In 2024

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How often do you update your resume? If you answered, “Any time I start a job search,” it might be time to rethink your approach. For one thing, if you wait until you’re about to start applying for jobs, you’re likely to forget a lot of your most impressive accomplishments.

Beyond that, updating your resume isn’t something you do every few years. In today’s job market, a resume isn’t just a static document. It’s an ever-evolving tool that changes with every skill you learn and every job you apply for. The version you use when you change careers will be different from the one you send when you’re applying to an academic program. And every new job opening will require you to customize your resume for that specific opportunity.

If you need resume help now, consider using a resume writing service for expert help. Are you ready to find a new job? Start your search on ZipRecruiter! ZipRecruiter is free for job seekers and you can apply for jobs with a single click!

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Why Updating Your Resume Is Important

Resume space is limited. You have one, maybe two pages in which to describe your most relevant skills, accomplishments, and qualifications. This is one reason why it makes sense to customize your resume for each job opening.

Another reason you update your resume for each specific job application is that hiring managers want to hire candidates who are passionate about their open jobs. A resume tells a story. If you send a generic resume, you’re telling the hiring manager that you’re a generic candidate.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you’ve stayed with the same employer for years, you’ve grown, changed, learned new skills, and overcome new challenges. Make sure your resume reflects your complexity, talent, and resiliency.

When Should You Update Your Resume?

At a minimum, you need to update your resume every time you apply for a job–and make sure that you customize it for that particular job, using resume keywords from the job description to show the hiring manager why you’re an ideal candidate.

Beyond that, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of updating your resume regularly–once every few months, for example. Creating this habit will ensure that you add your skills as you develop them.

How To Update Your Resume: 8 Tips

1. Update Your Skills

Even if you don’t update your resume regularly, be sure to track your skills development as it happens. It can be as easy as keeping a list in a Google document that you update as you acquire new skills.

Keep track of courses taken, certifications completed, and workshops attended. Also, remember informal learning. You may take on stretch assignments at work or contribute to high-profile projects that help you grow as a professional.

Look for opportunities to identify skills gaps and add to your skill set. For example, when you’re job searching, you might notice that the jobs you’re targeting require a hard or soft skill that you haven’t developed yet. Use this opportunity to seek out ways to close the gap. (Don’t forget about continuing education through your employer, if you’re currently working. You may be able to pick up these skills for free.)

2. Be Cognizant of Keywords

Nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS), a software program that tracks, sorts, and filters resumes. If your resume doesn’t contain the right keywords, it’s likely to get booted from the queue and never make it to a recruiter’s inbox.

To find the best keywords to use in your resume, scan the job description in the listing. Look for words describing skills, qualifications, experience, etc. Then include those words in your resume and cover letter.

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3. Choose A Resume Format

There are several different resume formats you can use when you’re updating your resume. These are some of the most popular:

Chronological: The classic resume format highlights your work history. Usually, a chronological resume format will list your jobs in reverse order, with your current or most recent role at the top.

A chronological format is a good choice if you have a lot of work experience related to the role you’re seeking and/or you’re applying through an ATS, which may have trouble reading complex resume formats.

Functional: This format highlights your skills and qualifications. It’s a good choice for a career changer, a recent grad, or someone whose career path has taken a few zigzags. However, it may not play well with applicant tracking systems.

Hybrid: Need to get through the ATS but want hiring managers to see your skills as well as your work history? A hybrid format may be the best choice for you. This resume type is also called a combination format.

4. Make Sure Your Contact Information Is Up-To-Date

This may go without saying, but we thought we’d mention it just to be safe: make sure your contact information is current. There’s nothing worse than going through all the trouble of applying only to miss out because the hiring manager couldn’t get in touch.

Two more pieces of advice: make sure you have a professional-sounding email address, and be sure to include your LinkedIn profile as well.

5. Remove Older Jobs

Once you’ve been out in the workforce for 10 years or more, you may want to leave off older job titles. Chances are, your experience in those roles is outdated. You may have used technology that’s now obsolete or learned procedures that have since been improved.

You can also remove any older jobs that are no longer relevant to your current occupation. Remember that your resume is not intended to be your biography. It’s more like a sales pitch–targeted and persuasive, not comprehensive.

6. Save As And Submit In The Proper Format

Look for instructions on the job site or employer careers page and submit using that format. Chances are, you’ll be asked to submit your files via PDF or Word document (.doc or .docx). Whatever their specifications, be sure to follow them.

7. Use Action Verbs  

One easy way to polish your resume is to swap out old, tired verbs for fresher, more active ones. For example, if you held a job where you supported colleagues or clients, try using one of these verbs instead:

  • Advocated
  • Coached
  • Educated
  • Resolved

Not sure where to get started? CareerCloud has a list of 207 action verbs to use in your resume.

8. Proofread

Use the spell-checking tool in your word processing software, try a proofreading app like Grammarly, or ask an eagle-eyed friend to review your job application documents before you click “submit.” Better yet–do all three.

If you have a printer, you can also try an old proofreading trick: print the document, and proofread it with a pen or pencil. If possible, let it sit for about a day before reviewing it a final time and submitting it.

When your resume is updated, you may be ready to start hunting for jobs. See where employers are listing jobs by checking out our list of the best job posting sites.

Where To Get Help With Updating Your Resume

Need help making your resume reflect your skills and experience? Check out our guide to the best resume-writing services. Many offer a free resume review or other low-cost features. Resume writing services are an affordable way to get professional resume help.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re actively searching for jobs, applying for a promotion at your current employer, or just making sure you’re keeping track of your skills, it makes sense to update your resume regularly. Use these tips and you’ll do more than impress recruiters and supervisors–you’ll remind yourself of why you’re so good at what you do.

Ready to use your resume to land your next role? Find your dream job at ZipRecruiter.