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Six ways to update your resume in a hurry

I’ve had inquiries recently from potential customers who need “just a quick resume update” so they can apply to a job “tomorrow.” Most professional resume writers will tell you, our process is so individualized and thorough, it’s just not possible to do your project justice in a day or two. Often, we end up turning away rush business because we really want to provide our customers with a personalized document that they can feel great about submitting to job openings.

Professional resume writers stick to our approach because we know, based on our clients’ success, that it works. My goal is to give you a resume that will increase your odds of getting invited to interview. This level of resume update takes time and requires collaboration. If you ask me to whip something together on short notice, I can’t be certain the resulting document will achieve my goal, which is to support your success.

But the reality is, the #greatresignation is in full swing and employees feel empowered now to find a better deal with a new employer. Some are calling it the great *reshuffling.* Job postings advertise signing bonuses and other incentives, and employers are ready to hire. 

So, if you’ve been told by a few resume writers that they can’t take a rush job, but you just can’t wait to apply for a job opening, here are six quick-hits you can do to “zhoozh up” your resume so it looks fresh and uploads well.

1. Update the fonts

Times Roman and Arial are the OG standard Word fonts. In 2021, they can carry a subtext that you have not, or don’t wish to, evolve with the – wait for it – Times. Except possibly in some staid and traditional industries, of course. So choose Source Sans or Calibri, or if you dig serifs, try Cambria. Use sans-serif for headings and serif for body text. 

2. Choose different bullets

Dots are dated. Use squares or checkmarks, or those triangles that point eastward.

3. Play with text size

Make your name BIG at the top of the page, your headline less big, and your bulleted text smaller than the job-specific headlines.  

 4. A pop of color

I love blue. Color theory suggests that blue is associated with depth and stability. Blue suggests trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, and truth. These are all things that most employers value. So use some dark blue for your big bold name and for the section headers.  

I also love grey. It’s the new black! Grey signifies neutrality and balance. Grey is a nice way to break up inches and inches of black text. Try grey sub-headings, maybe bolded.

If you’re in a creative field, you can branch out to other colors, but these are easy ways to amp up the visual appeal of a more traditional resume.

5. Revisionist history

At one of my first post-college jobs, I created this monster spreadsheet. I remember the effort it required. I lost sleep over it. I shed tears over it. It was EVERYTHING for a big chunk of my time at that job.

But 20+ years hence, I don’t remember the details. I only remember how it made me feel. And in hindsight, yeah, it was a big deal to me then, but it wasn’t a career-maker. Each time I have revised my resume since, my description of the project has taken a higher-level view, until the last time, five years ago I removed it entirely. 

Because – hard truth – my employer doesn’t so much care what I did in the early ‘00s.

And – more hard truth – neither do your prospective employers. Now is the time to read the parts of your resume that represent work you did more than 10 years ago. Ask yourself:  What detail no longer matters? What was the larger meaning behind that monster project? Was it relevant to the work you hope to do next? Then view those sections through a wider-angle lens and edit accordingly.

6.Choose your words carefully

Does your resume read like a job description? Do the bullets start with “responsible for”? If so, think about how you could reframe that work. Start bullets with verbs that have impact: Managed, Led, Created, Collaborated, Increased are a few examples. 

Next, scrub your text for passive voice, and rewrite those sentences in the active voice.

Lastly, banish gratuitous buzzwords.


Ideally, you’ll be able to plan ahead and spend the time and invest in the process to get your resume properly updated. But if opportunity knocks and demands you respond ASAP, these quick tips should get you in the game quickly. And if you apply and don’t hear back, then consider the experience a wake-up call and contact me to schedule time for a proper resume rewrite.

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