How to Keep Your Resume up to Date While Working
By: Giselle Johnston
Undoubtedly, a resume is an important tool throughout your entire career. It is a record of your experience and greatest professional achievements. While working full time, it can be easy to forget about this document. After all, when you love your job, you may not see the benefits of revisiting your resume frequently. In fact, you may feel as though you are betraying your employer. But even as you apply for new roles within your company and climb the corporate ladder, the resume is something you will need to interview at the next level because the executive who interviews you may have never met you.
In addition, no matter how much you love your job, changes in life and your career can happen unexpectedly. Layoffs, change of management, mandatory relocations, and family health concerns can all change your status with your current job or put you in the market for a new one. You may also find that you unexpectedly receive an offer for your dream job from a contact in your network. Keeping your resume up to date throughout your career allows you to seize any opportunity that comes your way. Here are some ways you can keep your resume up to date while working:
First, set aside time a few times a year to revisit your resume. The frequency you choose will depend on your role. Doing this check quarterly is a good starting measure , and you can adjust from there. For example, if you work on projects that last 6 months, a year, or longer, you may find that reviewing your resume once or twice a year meets your needs. Another tip is to schedule an appointment for yourself to review your resume at a specific date and time. Give your undivided attention to the task for 30 minutes. Even though you may be tempted to skip this simple task, if you stick to your schedule and the time committed to update your resume, you will not be disappointed with the effort you put forth.
When reviewing your resume, be critical about details that you can remove. For example, the further you get from college, the less important your graduating GPA becomes. Once you have several years in industry under your belt, the important aspects of your resume become your technical knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and leadership experience. As those points start to accumulate after 5 or 10 years in the field, you will want to choose only those most relevant, recent and extraordinary accomplishments to include in your resume.
Second, reflect on your projects and accomplishments after major project milestones. It is helpful to set aside time immediately after project milestones to reflect on your contributions to that project and formulate detailed notes on your role, project successes, challenges to learn from and major highlights. Do you remember the nitty gritty details from a project you worked on two years ago? If so, you may be one of the few. As time passes, the details from a large project are likely to be harder to recall. By seizing the opportunity while details are fresh in your mind, you can gather all your thoughts and reflect on the project in full detail. You can use these details to market yourself. You are looking for details that indicate your contribution to the project, whether that was overseeing a construction team or managing a project that stayed under budget. Keep quantifying details at the forefront, such as dollar amount saved, efficiency improvement data, and other relevant details.
Lastly, request references from those you work closely with, but do so with discretion and particular timing. Utilize the opportunity when a manager or close colleague departs from your company to request a testimonial or reference that speaks to your performance. Oftentimes we are most modest of our own work, so the words of others can really make our achievements shine. It may seem like an inopportune time to request a reference from a colleague during their departure, so judge your relationship with the person before you ask, and offer to reciprocate for them now or in the future. If you plan to stay in contact with this person, whether it be personally or professionally, you can feel confident that they will be thrilled to contribute a reference for you. This method can also be applied to professional relationships with clients, vendors and customers. These references can then be incorporated into your resume during the time you set aside to make those updates.
Setting aside time to update your resume multiple times a year, reflecting on project work while it’s fresh in your mind, and requesting references from colleagues at the appropriate times are some excellent ways you can continue to update your resume while working full time. The small effort exerted through these three strategies will pay off in huge ways when you find yourself making your next career move. Whether you seek internal opportunities or a change in careers, maintaining an updated resume is a worthwhile investment in your career.