5-day Resume Challenge: How to make time to work on your resume when you’re too busy

Have you been contacted by a recruiter about a position even though you’re not actively looking for a new job? Being asked for a resume when you’ve been in the same position for a couple of years can make you feel like running in the other direction. The thought of updating your resume can be especially daunting if you’ve been in the same position for several years.

Or perhaps you want to start a new job search, but are so busy with work and family life and you just don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to even begin. Not to worry! I’ve created a 5 day challenge that will help you manage your time and create your resume quickly and easily so that you can be prepared for new opportunities when they arise.

Day One Challenge – Schedule and Get Inspired

If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Today’s challenge is the easiest. First, you’re going to block out 30 minutes every day for the next 5 days. It’s ideal if you can find the same time every day so that it’s even more consistent. If your schedule is too busy, consider waking up half an hour earlier and doing this work in the morning before the chaos of the day ensues.

Bottom line: Be sure to put a recurring 30-minute appointment on your calendar so that you don’t procrastinate or get overbooked by other commitments.

Day Two Challenge – Create a Draft

I recommend that you start by writing on a blank document. This allows you to document important content and liberates you from the constraints of a resume format. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar, either. That will be tomorrow’s exercise!

As quickly as you can, remember you’re only doing this for 30 minutes max, write down as many details of your current and/or past jobs as you possibly can.

Day Three Challenge – Edit the Draft

Now is the time to review what you wrote and correct any grammatical or spelling mistakes. According to CareerBuilder, recruiters automatically dismiss 58% of applicants due to typos.

Spend 30 minutes today reviewing your first draft and editing it with a focus on fixing typos as well as rewriting any sentences that start with passive verbs such as “responsible for…” or “managed the…” with more powerful action verbs.

Need inspiration? Here’s a list of 185 action verbs you can use to better showcase your accomplishments.

Day Four Challenge – Apply Some Polish

Today is the day you bring it all together! After this 30-minute session is over, you will have a final draft of your resume. You are going to feel like a champ once this is done!

First, find a resume template that is simple and clean. If you use Google Docs, you can download one from there. While you could easily spend hours looking at different resume templates, the key is to move through this step quickly.

Next, it’s time to apply the template to your draft document. While you’re at it, make adjustments to the content of your resume to make it more easily readable by doing the following:

  • Format the page so that you have at least .5″ margins all around and set the line spacing to single. The key is for the document to be easily legible by anyone who reviews it.
  • Use the same font for the entire document. You can use a second font for section headers, but limiting your resume to one font helps with visual consistency.
  • Add section headers in bold to separate areas such as experience and education.
  • Highlight key accomplishments with bullet points.

Day Five Challenge – Send to a Friend

According to a study conducted by Ladder, your resume only has 7.4 seconds to make an impression! Don’t blow your chances by having grammatical and spelling mistakes in your resume. Once you’ve finished your resume, send it to one or two people you trust to review it. Don’t submit it to any prospective employers before this final step!

After you have incorporated any final feedback from your Day Five review, you’re ready to send your spiffy new resume to recruiters and hiring managers.

Pro-tip: Tailor your resume to the specific job. If you’re applying to multiple jobs, that likely means having several versions of your resume. Yes, this will take more time but by making minor tweaks to your resume, you can customize it based on the job posting to improve your odds of bubbling up to the top of the resume pile the hiring manager is reviewing. For example, if the job posting states that the ideal candidate will “Possess strong decision making and prioritization skills”, make sure you include examples in your resume about frameworks you use for prioritizing what features to build.

Want more resume tips to increase your odds of landing your ideal product manager job? Check out these articles:

Need more help? Try my Resume Revamp service. As an experienced product management leader for more than 20 years, I’ll treat your resume like a product. I can help you make the right first impression by providing you with feedback on everything from the look and feel to the content of your resume. Because I know the types of skills and traits PM hiring managers are looking for, I will provide suggestions on keywords you should incorporate. The ultimate outcome of this resume review is to help you land your dream job. Get more info here.

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