Update Your Resume: 6 Tips for Traditional and Modern Styles

This was originally posted on LinkedIn, accessible at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-your-resume-6-tips-traditional-modern-styles-erica-tew-cprw

Everyone needs a resume. It isn’t only for those searching for work. This document can launch your career, market your experience, open up networking opportunities, and land you interviews for your next move. If you’re dealing with conflicting advice or are unsure where to start, I have some suggestions for you.

So what is a resume?

A resume is a combination of your skills, results, work experience, and education. Consider it a brief snapshot or advertisement about you, developed for a specific audience.

If your resume is a generic list of your past jobs and daily responsibilities, then it is time to update. This resume style may have worked well enough in the past, but if you want to reach out to new people, build your network or develop leads, then your resume will need a targeted focus.

laptop notebook camera

(image via DeathToStockPhoto)

Your development strategy should reflect your audience.

Identify the purpose of your resume: Who do you want to see it? What do you want to showcase? Where do you want to grab their attention? Think of your audience as you write your content and remove anything that does not speak to them. This extraneous information can waste space. For example, if you are changing careers, explain your career history in a way that relates your skills and abilities to the new position. Focus on transferable skills and accomplishments of your past roles.

Create media that would impress your audience. This doesn’t have to be developed for printed paper either: think larger. You could create a website (about.me is a great free resource for developing your own biographical page), develop an infographic (canva.com has low-cost or free resources to make effective visuals), film a marketing video (use YouTube, Vimeo, or Vine for free!) there is such a wide variety of ways in which you can express yourself and share information.

Get Social

If you are active on social media, share that on your resume. Provide URL links and cross-link from one account to another to allow your audience to connect with you on their preferred platform. You can even promote your resume, be it paper, infographic, or video, across those social links to gain a wider audience.

Some social accounts are used distinctly for marketing yourself as a job seeker. For example, Pinterest can be a resource to those in visual fields. You can share your resume, showcase your work, and follow companies. For a job search related Pinterest, take a look at the Connecticut Career Guidance Pinterest here.

Writing Tips

  1. Avoid “shortcuts.” When it comes to paper resumes, never use a generic template. Why not? Because most of them have a large amount of white space and put all of your information into tables. This makes updating the resume down the line an arduous process (where I normally will just eliminate all formatting until I have plain text outside of tables). Further, this type of resume may have difficulty being “read” for scanning in an online application.

(image via Flickr )

2. Stay focused. Although you may feel a need to explain all the details of each job and why you left, save that for the interview. Keep cutting and editing information until you can get to the root of the matter in a few sentences. A few key ways to do this are to eliminate sentences that don’t start with an action. Cut out references to “Responsible for…” and keep in mind you want to describe the past job. Think of what you did every day in the form of an action (Ex. Resolved customer concerns at call center), not a list of semi-related skills, such as, “customer service, phones…”

3. Make it readable. Now that you have developed your content, find a way to make it easy for someone to quickly scan it. Make use of bullet points or use lines to separate sections. Use bold or italics or small caps to draw your eye in to key sections. For contrast, what you want to avoid is a document that looks like a wall of text. Break it up so it is easier to digest.

 If you’re creating a video or infographic, remember less is more. For an infographic, use minimalist shapes and lines to lead the eye across the image as you tell your career story. Overwhelming the image with graphics and icons can be too distracting.

For videos, make sure you have a quality camera with good lighting and audio pickup. Definitely work with a friend to film yourself: rarely do self-made videos from a laptop camera look professional. There are plenty of software programs where you can edit scenes or delete bad takes. Use minimal graphics to emphasize key words or points throughout. For each scene, stick with the rule of 3: you don’t want to have more than 3 bullets during a scene. More than 3 bullets in a presentation or video can make information hard to retain.

4. Create your own sections. Feeling locked in by the traditional standards? “Objective,” “Work History” and “Education” are not the end-all of resume sections. Some writers call these sections “functional headers,” which allow you to break up your resume content in a way you see fit. If you want to emphasize technical skills, career accomplishments, or volunteer experience, create your own sections and expand on the areas. This can be a great way of getting to your matching job requirements or displaying your experience across the years in one cohesive section.

(via printwand.com)

5. Don’t repeat. For example, if you create a “Career Accomplishments” section, do not copy and paste the same accomplishment and then list it again under the appropriate job in your “Work History.” Find a way to reword it and keep it brief. Choose one section to expand on this accomplishment and leave it there.

6. Proofread. Then have someone outside your field review it. Are you speaking in a lot of jargon? Try to make it understandable in case there are initial gatekeepers reviewing the material first. And of course, please do your best to avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes. Keep an eye out for formatting inconsistencies.

Most importantly: Don’t fret over “rules.”

Everyone has an opinion on resume writing, but you will develop the document or media you feel most comfortable sharing. When people use words like, “Always” or “Never,” take their advice with a grain of salt. There are no set rules in this project- only to create media that impresses your audience and furthers your goal. That goal may be an interview, a new client, or a new connection. Keep the media or document alive and change it every now and again to see what gains you the best results.

What strategies do you use when updating your resume? Let me know in the comments below. Our American Job Centers offer free resume writing resources, critiques, and workshops. Check out our Connecticut locations here.


Not the same: LinkedIn vs. Resume Summary

Every job seeker needs a strong resume, and more job seekers are getting onto LinkedIn. You can use your resume to begin building your LinkedIn profile, but the two are very different. I am going to break down the differences between these two sections and show you ways to promote yourself on both.



Marketing document used to highlight your background and match you for a target job.



Online profile used to market your experience and goals to connect with like-minded professionals and expand your network.



They both share a similar goal, with a few minor differences. The goal is to provide a “big picture” view of your experience, achievements, skills, and expertise.



  • Business/professional writing that uses an understood “I” and starts with adjectives or verbs. (Sometimes even written in third-person… the horror!)


  • Professional, but natural writing. Write your profile similar to how you would introduce yourself to someone.




  • Provides the “big picture” of your skills and experience, typically customized and sent to one targeted employer.


  • Explain the “big picture” of who you are, who you would seek to connect with – a general overview that is available to fellow professionals, recruiters, and employers to view.



  • Can lead into Core Skills or Career Highlights sections.
  • Option to add images or graphics limited by venue (online job applications, email, printing).


  • Can use functional headers within Summary to highlight achievements or skills, but avoid duplication in sections on LinkedIn such as Skills or Experience.
  • Ability to add rich media (links to work, news, slideshare, PDFs, images, etc.) open to user.


The resume and LinkedIn profile will be readjusted throughout your career. Both are living documents that change as you gain experience and knowledge. Although the resume is still widely viewed as a traditional document, use the writing style and language you feel best represents you. LinkedIn offers the flexibility to show a little more into your personality: make the best of it. As long as you are getting results (interviews, connection requests, page views, call backs, etc.) then you edit these sections as you see fit.

Now since these sections may be hard to visualize- below I have captured some samples created by myself and my team here within the American Job Center network. Contrast the traditional, formal style of the resume summary with the more conversational tone of the LinkedIn sections.  I hope you find the samples helpful!

RESUME Samples:

1 2 3


4 5 6

6 Resume Tips from Employers

As an Employment Services Specialist, I find it valuable to reference specific employer preferences/concerns when offering job search advice, presenting workshops or justifying resume edits. So, when I had the opportunity to attend a career fair recently I made a point to talk to recruiters, HR personnel and employers about resumes. I wanted to know what they liked and what common mistakes they saw. Here is what I found:

List a professional email address on the resume. I was ready to write this off as a cliché until I heard it cost someone an interview. Employers consistently mentioned this as a common mistake found on resumes! Check your resume, if there is something other than a combination of first/last name take a few minutes and create a new email address.

Customize the resume to each job. Yes, this is tough to do for career fairs since there are many employers and you might not know who is attending. Your best strategy is to try and find an attendees list, identify a few employers from that list to target then build customized resumes accordingly. If you have to use a generic resume, still provide one to the employer but get a business card and tell them you will email a customized resume later in the day (or next day). An added bonus is you’ve created a follow up opportunity.

Headline Statements are awesome. The headline statement is an occupational title geared toward the job you are seeking. On the resume it appears just below your contact information. The Employer likes this because it is easy to identify the candidate’s job target.

Self-serving Objectives are not awesome. Again, kind of a cliché, yet still mentioned as a common mistake. Remember, employers want to see how your skills benefit them not that you want a full time position with opportunities for growth and fulfillment as a…

Don’t fear the applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems are tools to help organize the chaos associated with hundreds or thousands of applications. Follow best practices when completing online applications and resumes such as using proper grammar, matching wording to job requirements, etc. Instead of blaming applicant tracking systems for not getting interviews, work on things you can control like having a resume critique and networking.

Print resumes on resume paper. Resume paper enhances the appearance of the document and shows you are willing to go that extra step. Most resumes employers see at job fairs are printed on regular paper which detracts from the quality. Resume paper and printing is available at no cost at American Job Centers across CT (www.ct.gov/dol).

Looking back, I am glad I took advantage of the opportunity to network with hiring personnel and employers at the career fair. I met very nice people who were willing to share their insight on resumes. If you are considering attending a career fair or are searching for work, hopefully these tips will help you land an interview.

Addressing #Education on Your #Resume


The Education Section of a resume has many purposes.  It shows the highest level you completed, if you’re a recently graduated student, additional honors or awards, and perhaps a solid GPA.   Regardless, many people must handle this section differently to market themselves effectively.


…without much work experience, have your education precede your work experience on your resume.  Currently, your education is your more marketable offering, as opposed to professional histories.  Students and recent graduates should provide any of their school information that can help replace a lack of experience.  A competitive GPA may attract an employer seeking an intern or new employee (but note the use on GPA for non-students or graduates below.)  There may be networking opportunities if you seek work through an alumni association or student center as well, depending on what your schools career advisory department has to offer.  Any clubs, activities, or committees where you had a role of leadership or assisted in new developments could work here as well, just as long as those groups do not show your political or religious preferences.  If the hiring manager doesn’t hold a similar world view, advertising this information may hurt your chances of obtaining employment.


…in the next couple years, you can note the “Degree Awarded” date as a projection.


University of Maine

Environmental Science

Projected Graduation Date:  May 2015


…place this information near the bottom, or on page two of a resume, so it doesn’t waste the valuable space your professional experience will utilize.  The typical standard is to not provide any dates in education unless they were within the last five to ten years.


University of Massachusetts

Bachelor of Arts Degree – Business

As far as GPAs go, unless it was something outstanding such as a 3.8 or higher, I would leave it off.  This is a cause of contention among other resume writers, but my thought is this:  what is the purpose of showing your GPA?  To show the employer you did well in school?  Employers typically focus more on your professional accomplishments, as they are more relevant to their needs.  GPA’s just show, at the very worst, that you may still crave grade-based approval- which is not helpful in the world of work.

These days I don’t believe it matters so much where you went to school, as long as you attended some of that schooling in person.  Online colleges are a lot more cost effective these days if you work and complete your degree during your off hours.  However, if you’re a current student without any work history, attending school solely online, you will have to join some type of group or volunteer organization to show an ability to work as part of a team.  Essentially, you want your resume to show how you have interacted with coworkers, and hopefully, what positive results came from that interaction.


…but are only missing a few credits, you can label your education as a “Bachelors Candidate.”  Example below.


University of Rhode Island

Bachelor of Science Candidate – Psychology

Another option would be to state what your major was, but without listing dates or Degrees Awarded.


University of Connecticut

Major – Spanish

Concentration – Communcation and Language


… one option may be to only list the name of the high school you attended without dates, and list your area of focus.  Such as:


John Smith High School

Concentration:  Fine Arts

Another option I tend to use more and usually prefer, is foregoing the education section altogether.  Instead, list the relevant industry or management trainings, whether they were work sponsored or not.  Instead of “Education,” this section can be labeled “Professional Development” or “Industry Training and Education”  or any title that fits the courses detailed in the section.


Management training courses sponsored through the American Management Association

  • Business Analysis Essentials
  • Negotiating to Win
  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence
  • Customer Retention
  • Mastering Google Analytics
  • Getting Results without Authority

The goal is to gain a job interview while minimizing any red flags.  If you’re a current student or recent graduate, you need to market your education to minimize the lack of experience.  If you have professional experience, there are various strategies to minimize any potential red flags if there is a degree requirement in the position.  When a specific degree isn’t a direct job requirement, showcasing achievements and quantifying duties can help get your foot in the door to an interview.

The Art of Revision in an Effective #Resume Summary

“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl

Part of my job entails training colleagues on resume writing and general career counseling in order to be prepared to take on a competitive resume writing certification exam.  Through this great experience, my team in the office has had a lot of time to develop and revise training for colleagues of various technical and writing skills.  No matter what, the profile section of a resume has always been the most time consuming.  One newer strategy came a few weeks ago, that has worked fairly well for my own purposes for advice to coworkers and job seekers alike.

[As a warning, all that follows is a journey down the dark caverns of my mind- or rather, my thought process as it relates to resume writing and strategies that have proven to be successful.  Excuse my seemingly contradictory blog here, as I detail the benefits of being concise in a long-winded post.]

The profile statement is typically a paragraph section underneath a headline statement on a combination style resume.  Here is where the first sentence has to be an all-encompassing marketing statement, highlighting the most significant selling points of the client that speaks to the employer’s needs.  Every time we write one, I think of my time in a Shakespeare festival playing an evil sister in a reenactment of King Lear.  My close friend Stephanie played the other evil sister and we had to ‘fight’ over the same man.  The first time running through the play quickly, it took an hour.  Then for the audience, the goal was to do the play in a half hour.  Then 10 minutes.  Then 5 minutes…. Then all the way down to 30 seconds.  What started off as a snarky, witty back-and-forth between Stephanie and me became an all-out fight scene.  We literally took each other down on stage, trying to get the essence of the evil sisters relationship conveyed under the time constraints.

And I see you, staring at me right now, thinking, “Land the plane…” Well, consider the full 5-7 sentences of a full paragraph the 10 minute version.  The very first sentence is that 30 second version.  The half hour may be the full resume and its accompanying documents, and the full hour would be the resume accompanied with the interview process until the hiring decision.

Giving the employer piece by piece what they need and no more is another exercise in time constraints.  Giving them too much too soon could dance on the border of being irrelevant and the employer may lose interest or not see the worth amongst the wealth of information.

To avoid resume jargon that doesn’t market a client well, I suggest the following.

When crafting the Summary-

1.      Determine the unique selling points.  3-5 of them would be ideal.  Selling points are what the client has to offer the employer.  Did they make or save money?  Did they manage a successful project? Implement a new program? Just complete a competitive training course?

2.      List the unique selling points in order of significance.  Determine which selling points have the most impact and lead with them.  Those of still impressive but lesser significance can help close the summary.  With all else excluded, the first sentence has to function as a stand-alone sentence, able to market the client well as leading statement in case the employer only skims the resume.

3.      Without using adjectives, articles, and pronouns, write the unique selling points as full sentences.  Describe the selling point in detail without any descriptive words.  This may seem difficult at first, but will be well worth it.  Avoiding the use of adjectives makes writers use only the facts.  By using only the facts, the true selling point is discerned without any “fluff” that could be considered debatable.  Articles are all of our neuter words like “the,” “a/an,” etc.  Removing pronouns helps lead with verbs, providing more impact to each sentence.

Take the example sentence of, “She had a great idea and developed a new marketing program  that beat what most of the local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to the store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed by her, and the customers gave her lots of positive feedback, they were so happy to have a surprise discount.” 

If we remove the adjectives, articles, and pronouns, it becomes, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers gave positive feedback, happy to have discounts.”

4.      Use an active voice.  In the active voice, quite simply. the subject does the action.  Example – Jane developed a new marketing program.

If we were to compared this with the passive voice,  the target of the action becomes the subject.

 Example – A new marketing program was developed by Jane.

How do we place the above selling point in the active voice?  We can break it down one line at a time.  The first line, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing,” is already active because Jane/She is the understood subject.  We dropped the pronoun in step 3.

The next line, “Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is all passive.  “Customers were prompted” and “special discount coupons were mailed.”  To change this to the active voice, the sentence can be changed to say “Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

5.      Be concise but speak the employer’s language.  Now that we have dropped some unnecessary words, have understood subjects in the active voice, and a list of selling points in order of highest impact to lowest, we can edit the sentences further.  On a resume, you want to use as few words as possible to say your point.  Baroque, ornate sentences that flow on and on with continuous dependent clauses have no place on a resume.

Let’s take a look at how our summary line is going.  Now we have,

“Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

35 words for one selling point is far too long.  Having one selling point take more than one sentence is also not the best marketing idea if high-value sentences are to be achieved.

Having a critical eye over what may be deemed necessary is crucial.  The first sentence begins with, “Had idea and…” Had idea?  Do we really need to say someone had an idea before they pursued something?  It is pretty safe to assume that before someone develops something new, they originally had an idea to do it.  Had an idea?  Dropped.

“Developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.”  This new marketing program is unique.  No other local stores currently offer this promotion.  The real “meat” of the sentence is that she “Developed (a) new marketing program.”  What can we assume from the fact that it differs from what other stores currently offer?  Although “unique” was used earlier, I would not recommend calling something “unique,” because everyone thinks they are unique.  “Exclusive” perhaps?

“Developed new and exclusive marketing program.”  Now “new and” bothers me.  It may even be safe to assume that when someone develops something, that it will be “new.”  Typically, no one develops something that will not lead to some new change.  “Developed exclusive marketing program.”  There we go.  Next sentence.

“Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.” Comma, comma, comma.  Everything about this sentence is dependent.  “and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is essentially the result of this new sales promotion.

“Came to store” is just kind of, “meh” right?  I did X and customers came.  Since this is a sales-related statement, it may be more marketable to say, “increased traffic.”  From increasing traffic, there may be room for more sales.  Information on sales increases isn’t directly given to us, so we will continue with “increased traffic.”

Similarly, “gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”  What we are really talking about here is “customer satisfaction.” 

Revisions in mind, we have now changed this too, “Developed exclusive marketing program. Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers that increased traffic and customer satisfaction.”

6.      Make the sentences showcase abilities to offer an employer.  The revision sounds very close to an achievement, which could be further developed into one for this resume.  For the summary section, remove the specific details and save them for the achievements section.  Revise the sentence so it is something they can offer a prospective employer, and the achievements section can become the “proof” section.

“Proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs

that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.”

Where is it “proven?  In the achievements section below.

7.      Finishing touches: sprinkle in an adjective with a job title/phrase.  As opposed to being adjective heavy and editing them out, we originally removed all or most adjectives in step 3.  It is much more difficult finding the “meat” of an ability/offering when it is flooded by meaningless adjectives, but one adjective at the end of fine tuning the sentence is a great finishing touch.  This adjective can be used to describe the client, but avoid over-assuming or using clichés.  “Self-motivated” or “Results-oriented” may be on a lot of “No” lists, but I think they are safe to use.  It’s just a matter of quality, not quantity, when it comes to choosing these few adjectives.

For the job title/phrase, you can use the client’s current occupation, or a general term for their occupation- as long as it is not completely different from the job they are targeting.  Overall, I would only avoid using the word “professional” as a standalone.  If the person in our example is a manager in sales, we can call her a Sales Manager.

End result:

Results-oriented Sales Manager with proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.

18 words, one sentence from 35 words and two sentences, with the major change being only an increase in impact.  These steps take some time, but remember, like most writing- it is 20% drafting, and 80% revision.  Taking the time to critically revise makes a great impact on the resume’s marketability.  If this sounds like a lot to handle, feel free to contact me so I can get you in touch with a CPRW from a local job center in your area.

Resume Advice with Natural Flavors

By Erica Tew, CPRW

We’ve all seen hundreds of articles titled; “Never Use These 10 Words On Your Resume” or “Your Resume Is Failing Because Of This One Mistake!”  Sometimes, the best resume advice you can take is not taking every bit of resume advice.  Research, form your own conclusions, and see what works for hiring managers in your industry.  Don’t let this part of the job search overwhelm you when there is plenty of assistance available. Resume writing doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience, and I’m going to share a few tips to get you started.  No gimmicks or lists, just advice (although, typing that, does feel gimmicky.)


Let’s just get started:

Always be Employer-Oriented

Whenever you write, think as if you are the employer.  Nothing is arbitrary, and any word must be worthwhile from a hiring manager’s perspective.  Don’t leave them wondering, “So what?  How is this good for me?”

{As an example, I was a former art student in college before switching majors.  Writing my first resume was a mash up of information from friends, relatives, and my own naive instincts.  The result was a three-page resume with an objective statement seeking something “rewarding and challenging” (gag) with a page and a half of art awards and information on my portfolio.  Completely irrelevant, but I was proud of it, and figured this was the stuff of quality resumes.  I was the more deceived.  Nonetheless, this experience taught me a valuable lesson…}

  • Relevant information targeted to the job for which you are applying far outweighs giving too much attention to any accomplishments from unrelated industries.

Get them at the Summary

I highly recommend using a targeted Headline followed by a Summary/Profile Statement to lead your resume.  As opposed to the old Objective, the Summary provides an opportunity to share a few sentences about how you fit the job opening.  This section falls within the first-third of the resume, and should be tailored for every job posting.

Typically this section is about 5-7 sentences long where you capture your unique selling points that speak to the employer’s needs.  The very first line must be your strongest out of the entire document.  When employers are only quickly browsing resumes, you have few opportunities to show them the impact hiring you can have on their organization.  Be bold!

Don’t fall into the easy habit of writing in generic resume-robot speak.  Be specific in what you can offer, and list more measurable, hard skills and achievements than potentially false soft skills.

Calling yourself a “Motivated team-player able to provide excellent customer service and learn new programs quickly,” does not offer as much hard evidence as, “Results-oriented Sales Manager with proven record of implementing cost-saving initiatives that increase revenue and customer satisfaction.”  If the hiring manager looks at nothing else- you will know they saw the overall picture of what you have to offer from that first line.

Suggestions to Get Started

Write out your work history in reverse chronological order, followed by any education, industry certifications, and relevant volunteer work.  If you stay within the same field, chances are, these sections will not change drastically from opening to opening.

To increase your marketability if applying within the same field- write about your accomplishments, not your day-to-day job duties.  Any time you won an award, streamlined a process, made or saved the company money- share that on your resume.

Providing a quick synopsis of work conditions for context can also help add to the achievements.  Explain the situation you were in, the action you took, and the results of this effort, without going into too much detail.

If there are only a few achievements, then provide details of your duties; the “how often/how many”s of each responsibility.  “Greeted customers and demonstrated products to close sales,” becomes the far more interesting:  “Greeted 100+ customers daily and demonstrated features and benefits of products to meet weekly quotas of $45,000.”

Confidence Building

Once these details are added, many job seekers feel more confident about pursuing their job search.  Too many people think, “Well I just worked, I did my job, I don’t have anything special to put on a resume,” but that’s far from the truth.  I hope you find this article helpful, and if you need any resume building assistance, feel free to connect with me and I can give you information to meet with a resume writer in your area!