Ideally, you want to take time on your resume to make it stand out from the crowd. After all, it can make the difference between landing the job of your dreams and never even getting an interview. That’s why it’s important to periodically update it and make sure that you always have a digital file at the ready, or even a unique and visually interesting online resume.

But let’s be realistic: how many of us really keep our resumes updated? Unless we’re actively hunting for a job, it just sits there gathering digital dust. And some of us just starting out might not have even begun putting a resume together at all.

So what are you going to do when an unexpected job opportunity arises and you don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time making it current? You need to take advantage of this opportunity now, or the position could be filled by someone who was more prepared.

And “unexpected opportunity” doesn’t just mean having a surprise encounter with Donald Trump or Steven Spielberg (depending on your ultimate career goals) on an elevator. Jobs that are posted online frequently net hundreds of resumes – sometimes within a matter of hours. Do you really think that hiring managers or assistants are going to keep reading after they’ve identified 5 or 10 good candidates? You have to be fast, or they might not even open your email.

So how can you throw together an updated, professional, and effective resume quickly? There are many options available to you. The right one will depend on just how quickly you need to pull your resume together, how much help you need, and how much money you have to spend.

Use templates. Not sure how you want to format your resume? No problem. Most word processing software has pre-prepared resume templates built in, making that part of the process a breeze. If you already own that type of software (and many of us do), it makes this option free. The downside is that they don’t offer very much guidance on exactly what to include on your resume, and even though the resume is already designed for you, it will likely still take you several hours to locate the right template for your situation and alter it to fit your needs.

Try an online resume builder. If you need a little more guidance than a template offers or require a resume in a matter of minutes rather than hours, then this may be the best route to take. An online resume builder, such as goresumebuilder.com or resumebuilderonline.org, makes the process simple. Just plug your information into a form, and it will output a professionally designed resume, often providing common formats, such as PDF and DOC, and a variety of templates. For this convenience, some sites charge a fee, but if you do your research, you can find the service for free – without sacrificing the quality of the final product.

Hire a resume writer. This is the most expensive option, but it also ensures you a more personalized and error-free resume when it’s complete since you’ll have a professional making ensure the design and content is right for your situation. Resume writing services charge anywhere from $75 to hundreds of dollars, depending on the type and length of the resume you want. You can likely have your resume turned around in 24 hours – but they may add a surcharge for the speed.

No matter which route you decide to take, make sure to proofread the resume before turning it in. Is the information accurate? Are there any typos? Even though you want to be fast, it can pay to take a few extra minutes to have a friend or family member review it for anything you may have overlooked.

Featured photo credit:  Application and CV in German via Shutterstock

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