Nipped and Tucked Resumes

In many cases, just a single year or two at a new position will infuse your resume with a plethora of new content that if plugged in too hastily, will create a patchwork coat effect: It may serve a practical purpose at a very base level but it will not turn heads, evoke a visceral reaction and inspire the meaningful, targeted interview call that, as a job hunter, you seek.

Nourished Career Bodies Require Resume Refitting

Not only is a resume update comprised of new resume content to fit the evolving shape of your career body, but older, faded, stretched career fabric needs tightened, trimmed and emboldened to align with the new information.

As an example, over the seven years we’ve collaborated,  Jennifer has hired me for three iterations of her resume. When she originally approached me in 2002, Jennifer’s career focus was Operations. The majority of her professional experience to that point had been spent contributing to operational and financial software machinations inside a major telecommunications company.

Within just a few years, Jennifer returned for an update, and her career fabric had expanded to include adjunct experience in a new industry (not-for-profit) versus the major, Fortune 500, publicly held company of her past. As well, she had been instrumental in leading a change management initiative and start-up effort that transformed the organization’s direction and goals.

Most recently, Jennifer circled back to me for another ‘simple update’ after having driven culture change at an even larger not-for-profit entity with multi locations. Moreover, Jennifer sought to reposition herself in a for-profit organization, having run her career course in the not-for-profit sector.

She needed my help in determining how to reposition her resume to showcase her last several years’ not-for-profit experience in a light that mapped to private sector; as such, the Profile section as well as the Performance Overview (chronology) section, were critical areas in which to spotlight a commingling of her last seven-years’ experience.

Not only had her career fabric expanded, but her audience was shifting, requiring new folds of career fabric be patterned and stitched together to present a whole new career suit that would appeal to today’s trends and to her current target industry.

In both update collaborations, resume updating required significant rewriting and strategy (versus a quick, easy update process).

In both collaborations, just a few driving questions allowed me to talk her down from the ‘I need a quick, simple update’ vantage point and redirect her vision that the resume update was much more involved.

It required careful introspection as to how her recent several-years’ experience/achievements/leadership learnings mapped to her goals. As well, it required deeper assessment and specificity in communicating her go-forward goals.

Career Stagnation Is Not an Option

What I’ve also found, in working with Jennifer and many other job hunters over the last 12 years is that virtually no one I’ve ever written for – no matter their career level, from entry to senior-level – has wanted to remain stagnant in their job or career. Even when they perceived their job move as lateral, they always wanted something different — or more — in regard to day-to-day tasks and challenges.

How Do You Determine Your Resume Update Needs?

Trying to determine whether a strategic approach to revamping–vs. ‘simply updating’–your resume is in needed? Ask yourself some or all of the following questions:

  • What have you been doing the last year, two years, etc. at your current/new job (i.e., what have been your department’s, division’s, company’s, YOUR overarching goals/results)?
  • How is this different from what you were doing last time you updated, or originally wrote, your resume?
  • What are you most proud of doing in the past year, etc.? Why does this matter to your target audience?
  • How would you describe your ideal ‘next position?’ Type of role? Title? Company? Industry?
  • If you look at the Headline/Profile/Summary of your ‘current’ resume, would you feel it represents your go-forward (target) goals of types of position you are seeking? Why or why not?
  • Think specifically vs. impulsively what your resume’s current state of being is (whether it’s an outdated career cloak befitting viewing by a past career generation or whether it is a modern-audience-attracting resume), then note the differences in what you would like your resume to attract as your next great opportunity (your go-forward goals) versus what your were vying to attract last time you updated your resume.
  • As well, consider the evolving resume design strategies and the value to revisiting / amending certain aspects of the layout to reinvigorate and perhaps boost the competitiveness of your career positioning tool (especially important in this still very tough market).

All of the above questions and talk points are critical to determining whether you truly require a ‘simple resume update.’ High-performing resumes require ongoing maintenance, overhaul and strategic attention.

In most cases, career resume fabric, like that in a well-worn suit, becomes stretched, faded and dated in time. A nip and tuck of fabric may impulsively feel like the easy choice to maintain a career resume suited for the job; however, in many cases, your career fabric needs reshaped and replaced to best enhance your nimble and more muscular career form.

I want to credit The Recruiting Animal for inspiring this post with his unique take on how a Resume Writer Is like a Tailor over at, in a blog post, “The Resume Writer.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, resume, Resume Story, Resume Update

7 Comments on “Nipped and Tucked Resumes”

  1. Dawn Lennon Says:

    You have lifted the veil on a really important misconception. If our careers were just a series of task adjustments, then just adding a button here or there would update us. But our careers are (or should) be about growth, creativity, challenge, and calculated risks that warrant elegant brocade. So a resume that once fit us for the prom is all wrong when we are ready for the red carpet. A terrific piece with a great metaphor. Just shows you how a pair of great minds can travel!

    ~Dawn (@ businessfit on Twitter)

  2. careertrend Says:

    Elegant brocade (making a note of that wording – thank you 🙂 Your prom and red-carpet metaphor, also interestingly visual!

    Your insightful additions help extend the metaphor, Dawn, and are much appreciated!

  3. Jac- What a terrific post. Very clever and oh so true. Another way to look at this situation is to think about positioning as a lens. As one moves through a career, it makes sense that the perspective or view of employers ( hence the way a candidate is presented) changes based on what they need to know about a particular candidate to evaluate their qualifications for different opportunities. As the candidate’s credentials and experience change over time,their potential value to prospective employers also changes. Some resume data becomes obsolete and needs to be deleted, others have to be given more prominence and then the new information meaning chronologically recent that did not exist in the past, is added. Thus, a resume update includes both additions, deletions and substitutions and draws on current and past accomplishments to create the best presentation of a candidate’s qualifications and relevant background. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts on this topic!

    • Debra,
      Great points regarding a resume update including ‘additions, deletions and substitutions’! It’s about relevancy, for sure, and drawing out both new and past accomplishments/experiences in a way that sheds light on the candidate’s ‘value proposition’ for today’s goals (versus last year’s, or last-5-years’ goals).

      So, not only are we trimming and deleting old information to make room for the new career information to fit, but we are reevaluating past achievements and often rewriting those to illuminate the appropriate value statements for the prospective employers’ ‘lens.’

      Thanks, Debra, for your excellent value-add comments!

  4. […] For more information on how to avoid career stagnation and determine your resume update needs, please read here. […]

  5. Jacqui, great post on the importance of developing a relevant resume. What speaks to me about your post is the importance of creating a resume that positions the individual to the role he or she is seeking to land. This is a balancing act between sharing past accomplishments and crafting a profile/summary that reflects the new desired role. Great post!
    Marguerite Granat @MGRecruiter

  6. Marianna Says:

    You have a delightful way of educating while entertaining us, choosing stories that we have all “worn”, at one time or another.

    You set the “scissors” in motion with your list of questions.

    I love how helped you “stitch” this post together.

    I had a similar experience – my post today was nourished by one I read yesterday, showing how we are connected by threads of ideas.

    ~Marianna – @AuntieStress

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