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Revamp Your Rèsumè

How to stand out in today's job market.


Having a rèsumè that lists your previous experience and accomplishments used to be enough to land you a job. But in today's competitive market, that simply won't cut it—especially if you are re-entering the workforce for a second-act career, says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston-based TurningPoint, a career coaching and counseling firm. "Rèsumès need to be written in the language of where you're going, not where you've been. And that can be a challenge for many people."

Robinson provides four tips for writing an eye-catching rèsumè that will help you land an interview and jump start your second act.

1. Customize your rèsumè for every job opportunity.
It's important to read job descriptions, company websites, and company LinkedIn profiles very carefully when writing your rèsumè. "You'll get a ton of clues about the skills they're looking for," says Robinson. Then make sure that your rèsumè captures those specific skills. It takes a little more legwork, but customizing your rèsumè for each opportunity will go a long way.

2. Play up your flexibility and agility.
Companies are looking for people who understand, adapt to, and implement new processes and technologies. More than anything, they want to know if you can embrace and drive change. "If you've had any experiences related to process improvement or technology changes, make sure you highlight that in your rèsumè," says Robinson.

3. Optimize your rèsumè for tracking systems.
It's essential that your rèsumè be optimized for applicant tracking systems, since hiring managers, recruiters, and even websites process rèsumès in a similar way. Even if you send your rèsumè directly to a real person, there's a good chance that your information will get stored in an applicant tracking system at some point. Keywords help the software find you and let the company know whether you're a good fit for the position. "Print out and underline the parts of the job description that talk about the work you'll be doing, and include those words and phrases in your rèsumè," says Robinson.

4. Get the knowledge you need.
With a plethora of online schools, webinars, and industry events available, there's no excuse for not staying up-to-date on the skills that will keep you competitive with other job seekers. "You don't need to go back to school for a degree, but you do need to find a way to learn, and speak credibly, about current topics within your desired field," says Robinson.