Of all the important documents you maintain, the one collecting dust could be a barrier to the next chapter in your career –your résumé.
Think of your résumé as a living document that needs regular pruning and care. Yes, even when you’re not actively job-hunting. Think of it as your personal PR rep on paper and arm it with your most relevant profile at all times.
How often should you be touching up your resume? Here’s a hint: If you’re updating it once a year, even if you’re not in the job market, it’s not enough, and it could cost you an opportunity.
The truth is, your résumé updates should happen every time you do any one of the following:
- Get a promotion
- Learn a new skill
- Take a class or continuing education
- Positively impact company results
- Positively impact team/department results
- Positively impact a customer’s experience
- Complete a work-related project
- Have a change in job description
- Suggest and implement continuous improvements to workflow
- Get a new job/career
So, how can you bring (and keep!) your résumé up to par?
Here are 4 simple things you can do right now, and regularly, to keep it fresh.
- Use a career management worksheet. A career management worksheet is a handy tool for the particular task of keeping a running log of your career path. Here’s where you record work-related accomplishments (anything from the above list of 10). This tool will make your next résumé update or overhaul a breeze –even better if they’re pre-formatted, accomplishment-based or PAR (problem/action/result) statements.
- If your résumé contains an Objective Statement, lose it! Not only is this an outdated practice, but since hiring managers and recruiters spend an average of 6-10 seconds looking over a résumé, it could be a fast track to the trash folder if they aren’t getting a convincing elevator pitch in those precious first seconds.
- Review old entries and delete outdated information. It’s best to keep any work history that’s older than 15 years off of your live-version résumé. If these are experiences that might serve you later (say in a career-change format), you can keep them on your career management worksheet. Unless you’ve been at the same company for 15 or more years, drop the old jobs and use that real estate for something more relevant.
- Try a new layout or design. Sometimes making small tweaks to your design go a long way toward creating something that’s easy-on-the-eyes. Recruiters love formats that are easy to read and navigate. Examples of some small tweaks you can make quickly include; use of bullet points where appropriate, a new look to your heading, or adding a table that illustrates results.
Keeping your résumé updated is important for many reasons. The two most common are the ones that tend to sneak up on you unexpectedly.
- What if your company announces a workforce reduction tomorrow or even next month? I’ve had this happen twice in two years in the same company.
- What if there’s an unexpected opening that’s right in line with your career progression, and interviewing starts in a week?
Would your résumé be ready?