Ready for the job fair? 9 tips to refresh your resume and advice for getting back to work

It's a real sign that the job market is on the mend: job fairs cropping up around the Tri-State. Before you don your suit and pack your briefcase, make sure your resume is job fair ready.

Here are 9 tips:

1. Refresh your resume. It's is a living document that should be updated periodically. Yet many people leave their resumes untouched for years, making updates only when they're on the job hunt. Even then, they'll limit revisions to their most recent job.

2. Blast from the past. It's important to capture your full work history. But as you advance in your career, eliminate duties or tasks that no longer reflect your current professional goals or skills.

3. Typo alert. After you run spell check, run your resume by someone who has a good eye for errors. Even the smallest mistake can send your resume to the bottom of the pile.

4. Think twice about "creativity." Before you decide to get cute, clever or really "outside the box" with your resume, consider the audience. There may be some latitude for careers in the arts, entertainment, design and related fields. Not so much for other businesses. 

5. Humor me? Keep the funny business to a minimum. Attempts at humor, particularly about sensitive subjects, don't translate well on paper. 

6. Don't picture this. A resume is not the same thing as a profile on a professional networking site. Including a photo can put hiring managers in an awkward position because they're not supposed to judge you on appearance. Unless you are an actor or model, hold the photo.

7. Keep it real. Prospective employers want facts, not flowery language. Before submitting your resume, make sure that you've backed up your claims. Words like "marvelous," "magnificent," "splendid" and "amazing" will raise eyebrows and questions.

8. Fact or fiction? Even the littlest of white lies could spell trouble. Your credibility -- and chance of landing the job you seek -- can disappear quickly if a hiring manager discovers you presented false or embellished information.

9. Too personal. Be honest, but avoid "TMI" (too much information). Hiring managers don't need (or want) to know your favorite color or pet peeves. There's no benefit to issuing warnings about your weaknesses. Be truthful about your skills, accomplishments and professional background, but keep the harsh self-critiques to yourself. 

And one more thing...

Re-entering the workforce after an extended absence? Whether you took time away to raise a family, pursue a degree or travel the globe, you have to convince employers you're capable of making a successful career comeback.

As you work the room at the job fair, consider these tips:

  1. Highlight skills you've gained outside the office that can be applied to the workplace. Did you lead fundraising drives, serve as PTA president or volunteer in the classroom? These efforts show initiative and enthusiasm.
  2. Emphasize how you've stayed involved by volunteering with a nonprofit, enrolling in online courses or attending industry events.
  3. Create or update your LinkedIn profile and review your other social media accounts. Adjust your privacy settings so prospective employers see your professional accomplishments, not personal photos and conversations.
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