The value of keeping your resume up-to-date

I am currently working with a digital marketing professional. She contacted me about a month ago. We've been taking our time with her resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile as she wasn't expecting to begin her job search for awhile yet.

You probably see where this story is going. Yesterday Joanne, as I'll name her, emailed that in a downsizing exercise, she was one of several to be let go.

With a new career portfolio well under way to completion - we're just finalizing tweaks - Joanne can skip the panic associated with updating an outdated resume, without which networking or a job hunt cannot begin.

Did you know that September is International Update Your Resume Month?

I've had other, potential clients, who contacted me a day or two before the close of their dream job posting, which they'd just noted online, panicked to get something together so as not to lose the opportunity.

Given that I prebook, sometimes up to two months in advance (and other times able to take a new client immediately - there's no predictability in resume writing), that quick a turnaround is impossible.

It's also impossible as quality work takes time. Gathering the information and composing a strategic resume, and other self-marketing documents, is perhaps equal parts analytical and creative efforts. I won't charge good money for a slap-dash, mediocre effort, and thus I have to turn them away.

Here is a list to get you started on your resume update, as per my own list of potentail sources of great resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile content.

- performance reviews

- talent, skills, personality, leadership, 360 feedback, and other assessments

- emails of thanks, awards of recognition, informal "attaboy/attagirl" corporate motivation strategies

- job postings: existing and new job prospects

- your "brag" or "me" professional file that hopefully you are compiling on a regular  basis

In addition, I often request that clients complete a homework questionnaire. (This helps me build the resume, but also prepares the client for a job interview.)

That's the list of documents my clients share with me before I begin working with them. And after I review their documents, I prepare more questions and conduct an intake interview that takes from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

I ask questions until I have the details that I know I can spin into gold on their behalf. No lying, no exaggeration, no embelishment, just an objective perspective and an expert's eye on how to showcase each client's skills in action.

How's your resume these days? Outdated, not touched in 10 years, lost in a computer crash, still on paper? Don't wait and risk applying to your dream job with a sad, neglected resume that gets you nowhere rather than a strong, competition-busting resume that lands you an interview, get on it now.

After all, your earnings, pride, family security, comfort, and happiness are often tightly linked to your career.

If you need help, give me a shout! Email me at



Leading Marketer's Tips for Finding a Job

The list of questions below come to you courtesy of Seth Godin's blog. Mr. Godin is a recognized leader in the marketing field and I am often inspired by his posts. After all, the recruitment process, from the job hunter's perspective, is an exercise in SELF-marketing.

When providing potential clients a resume assessment of their existing document, I mostly see historical job descriptions - dry, boring, clone-like lists of duties. These are by no means resumes; they do not market value, which is one of the tips provided in Godin's blog.

Consider these questions:

Can you show me a history of generous, talented, extraordinary [side] projects? (My brackets - I would rephrase this to "side or job-related" projects.)

Have you ever been so passionate about your work that you've gone in through the side door?

Are you an expert at something that actually generates value?

Have you connected with leaders in the field in moments when you weren't actually looking for a job?

Does your reputation speak for itself?

Where online can I see the trail of magic you regularly create?

Each one of these could create phenomenal resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn additions. This is the type of information that I regularly add to my clients' resumes - if the person can cite an example following my prompts and questioning (I know how to dig deep to unearth resume gold).

For example, here's an idea for the second point - demonstrating passion and going in by the "side door." If you've volunteered to join a committee at work because the project was one that used your talents and integrated your values, that would be a great example of this idea:

  • Volunteered to chair our company's first corporate responsibility committee, leveraging knowledge of the subject from my previous job and tapping into a strong personal value; led team of 10 to deliver company's inaugural corporate responsibility statement, and to plan next steps.


  • Promoted to Customer Service Manager role, newly created, in recognition of introducing and implementing 3 successful service measures - while in administrative role - that reduced compaints by 30% and increased customer satisfaction survey score by 20 points, unprecedented in company's history.

As for the last point - about an online trail of magic (love that phrase!), at the very least, today's savvy job hunter must have a professional presence in the form of LinkedIn. With its advanced capabilities, you can now add documents and presentations as links to your profile, creating that "trail of magic" that Mr. Godin so eloquently refers to.

Not sure how to realize this form of resume? Not proud of your shabby LinkedIn? I'd love to help.

75% of resumes don't get through the applicant tracking system

Yes, dear readers, I've not yet covered this subject from every angle, it seems! This statistic comes from attendeding a Career Professionals of Canada members' virtual meet-up on the topic of today's resumes.

We discussed the folly of the functional resume and of resume templates, both still in wider use than we would expect today, given that both of these are quite useless when applying to positions in companies that rely on a applicant tracking system (ATS) to parse the many applicants' resumes. 

In case you're not sure what a functional resume is, it's the style with two to four functional areas highlighted (most often I have seen categories such as customer service and communications, and then a more specific-to-the-job category, for example, purchasing or technical knowledge), and then the employer names and dates are listed following these, with no further detail. And a resume template can be one you've found on the internet or one you "borrowed" from a friend's resume.

Both contribute to you scoring a very low mark on the ATS and thus both ensure you are NOT selected for an interview.

An interesting perspective came from CPC's Executive Director, Sharon Graham. Researching the ATS for her upcoming book, Sharon made a statement that I thought pointed to a profound insight. The ATS, she said, is set up to disqualify most applicants. By searching out who has made an effort to investigate the peculiarities of the ATS-friendly resume and also to include key words and phrases, by the act of selection it also disqualifies those who have not made the effort.

I'm not saying this is fair or even makes sense from the job hunter's point of view, but it is what it is. You do have every right, though, to be selected IF you put forth considerable effort, or alternatively, hire a career professional to assist you.

One more point that I want to make: not enough job hunters are aware of the need to navigate the ATS recruitment process. To drive this point I have two stories to share.

I am currently working with a client and I hear the disbelief in his voice and the hesitation of his responses to my lessons on why I wrote his resume the way I did as it relates to the ATS. Apparently he has a relative in HR and I think, perhaps, that this is where the disbelief is originating as not all companies use an ATS.

And finally, one of my colleagues has been working with a client, a company, on a recruitment related project. She was shocked when the client came up with resume templates as one of the aspects related to the project. She had to educate the client on why templates are not only ineffective in today's job hunt, but actually will disqualify the candidate (as per the above insight). The templates were scrapped and the project quickly "retooled" in response.

So, the ignorance of how the ATS works and how it impacts the job search is not only at the individual job hunter level, but also sometimes at the recruitment level!

To read the Forbes article that cites this statistic, go to "How to Get Your Resume Read by an Employer."