Get your résumé in shape
Staying in shape is good for your body and your résumé, and in both areas you want to push yourself. Just as with fitness, not every job-search approach works for everybody. Some people do better with groups while others have personalized goals, and sometimes old routines become stale. Here's how you can achieve your résumé-fitness goals.
You're just getting started
If you haven't looked for a job in a while or are just getting started, begin with the basics. Most job searching is now done online and requires a résumé that can be uploaded. Many employers request cover letters as well. Establish a list of references you can count on for support, and check in with them. Keep your job search organized by tracking the jobs you apply to in a spreadsheet, as well as by the date you applied and the materials you sent. Also investigate social-media tools and mobile applications that can help in your search.
You need immediate results
Sometimes the most important job-search factor is how quickly you can get a paycheck. If your focus is on the money first, entry-level positions and jobs that provide on-the-job training are a good place to start. These roles are more lenient about experience requirements and often can lead to new career paths. If you do have experience and have a specialized talent, consider freelance, consultant or contract work, which give you the power to choose your clients, pay and schedule.
You're trying to bulk up your résumé
Is your résumé on the lean side? A crowded page doesn't necessarily equal a qualified job candidate, but hiring managers do look for candidates with experience and demonstrated knowledge. Include education and relevant experience, and know the importance of résumé keywords. Also, look for ways to add muscle to your résumé by finding relevant volunteer opportunities, related certifications you can complete and professional associations or groups you can join. Create a balanced, well-rounded résumé that highlights your experience and capabilities relevant to the job for which you're applying.
You're trying to slim down your résumé
If your résumé has gained excessive information over the years, it may be time to cut the fat. Remove all content that's not relevant to the job for which you're applying. If you can't make a direct connection to how a previous role prepared you for the prospective job, it shouldn't take up valuable room on your résumé. Also cut out dated résumé categories such as your "objective" or the inclusion of references -- even the line, "References available upon request." Your goal should be to keep your résumé to one page, as hiring managers rarely take the time to do more than skim your information and may not look at a second page.
You need outside support to see progress
Having the discipline to dedicate time and effort to job searching can be tough, and making the right contacts to find a job can be equally challenging. Sometimes outside help is the answer. Consider finding a job-search mentor or working with a recruiter. These options can provide the same discipline and encouragement as working with a personal trainer and offer equally impressive results. Also consider networking, volunteer opportunities or group workshops to make potentially beneficial connections and learn new skills.
Your old routine isn't working and you want something new
Sometimes a dramatic change is just the answer for a stale routine. If you're feeling burned out by your current job or field, consider a career change. Identify your strengths and interests, and think about how your skills might apply to a different field. Try volunteering or shadowing people with interesting jobs to find out what you do and don't like before you commit to switching careers.
Just as with any fitness routine, a commitment to progress and hard work will be the quickest way to see success.
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