Like it or not, very few of us stay in the same job for the duration of our working career. Working for a company for 40 years, retiring and collecting the gold watch are things of the past. In fact, the average 34-year-old has already worked for nine different companies. The way we work has changed as well. Nearly 10 million people work away from corporate offices at least three days a month. With early retirement, down-sizing, mergers, and an economy transitioning into information-based industries, the current workplace is changing… in fact the only thing we can be sure of is that things will change! Keeping your resume current and ready to “pull out of the drawer” is the best insurance policy you can have in these fast-paced, uncertain economic times.

Whether you’re looking for employment for the first time, are a well-seasoned professional, or just want to “test the market,” a current resume is one of the most important things you can create for yourself. Even if you’re not in the job market at the moment, keep your resume up-to-date allows you to respond instantly to unexpected opportunities and to be prepared in the event that your job is at risk or disappears. What better time to dust off that resume than right now?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a resume as “a summary, a brief account” of education, professional qualifications and experiences. It’s important to note that your resume is a marketing and promotional tool, not an autobiography. It should include a summary of those things that position your strengths, credential’s and contributions relevant to your job objective and should never falsify or distort information.

Here are some “do” and “Don’t” preparation tips to get you started.


  • No one can write your resume as well as you can. It’s all right to utilize a resume service; however, be sure that the company reflects who you are.
  • Job titles, dates and education must be accurate. Many potential employers hire companies that verify information on resumes.
  • Use years only when listing dates of employment. Listing months of employment is too detailed.
  • When drafting your resume, anticipate the questions the reader may have and include material that can answer those questions.
  • Choose strong action verbs that showcase your strengths, such as negotiate, manage, promote, trouble-shoot, etc.
  • Use wide margins and bullets to draw the reader’s eye to relevant information.
  • Always use standard type-faces such as Arial or Times Roman, and black ink.
  • Since many companies now scan resumes for databases, use white, pale gray or ivory 8 ½” x 11″ paper that is not textured or flecked.
  • Include a cover letter, even if you’re e-mailing the resume. (Cover letters are an important part of the process.)
  • Make sure that your resume states the value, benefits and contributions you will bring to an organization and any experience you have that can be transferable to the new job.
  • Keep a copy of your resume on your computer and regularly update it when you meet new objectives, goals and accomplishments.
  • Be honest. Be honest. Be honest.


  • Do not speak in generalities. The person who “increased sales by 25% and $200,000 in six months” is more impressive that the person who “increased sales.”
  • Avoid photographs, colored paper, fancy type-faces and bizarre delivery methods. Generally these approaches are seen as un-professional.
  • Don’t include personal information, physical characteristics, or hobbies and interests unless they are directly related to the job objective.
  • Eliminate the use of personal pronouns (I, me, my, etc.).
  • Avoid weak verbs such as “Was involved in…,” “Helped to…,” etc.
  • Avoid using the phrase “references available upon request.”

Having your professional resume current and up-to-date is a positive action you can take to ease stress in times of workplace uncertainty. The worst time to write a resume is when you’ve been down-sized and are grieving over a lost job. On a more positive note, who knows when Bill Gates may come knocking at your door with the job offer of a lifetime! The Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” is your best insurance policy in the ever-changing and exciting world of work.