Keep your resume updated with these easy steps.
Writing a resume can be a lot like buying insurance: It's easy to put off, but when you need it, you need it right away. The reality is that you should always keep your resume up to date. If you revise it on a regular basis, you'll find that it is much easier to take on a new job search when the time comes. Otherwise, you'll spend hours of valuable job-hunt time conducting research, updating an out-of-date format, and desperately trying to remember what you did at your job years ago.
It may not be a glamorous task, but it is a necessary one. Luckily, it doesn't have to be as hard as you may think. Here are four ways to ensure that your resume remains up to date and ready to impress at all times.
Start a brag book
A brag book is a neat, compact way for you to track all of your accomplishments throughout your career. As you go about your current job, make a habit of logging the significant projects you take part in. Include things like trainings you lead or underwent, extra responsibilities you've taken on, and goals you have achieved. Most importantly, take note of the ways you can quantify these highlights: specific data, percentages, dollar signs, etc. These are the things that will impress employers, and it will be much easier to collect this information when it is relevant, rather than digging through records when you're in a pinch.
Give yourself a due date
It's hard to get things done when you don't have a deadline, and updating your resume is no different. Instead of brushing it to the side with a perpetual “I'll work on it next weekend,” set a due date for yourself ‒‒ and stick to it. Perhaps you give yourself until the end of the month to complete your full update, or maybe break it into pieces by assigning yourself one section per week, each “due” by Sunday night. You're much more likely to accomplish a goal when it is set in stone. Plus, a little urgency never hurt anyone.
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Utilize sample job descriptions
Look through some sample job listings and find ones that describe the type of work you want to do next; this will help you learn the expectations and priorities of potential future jobs. Then, use this information to start reformatting your resume, crafting a targeted professional summary and highlighting the areas you now know are most important. You'll still need to tailor your resume for each job you apply for come job-search time, but now you'll have a solid place to start from.
Plus, you may not be actively searching for a job yet, but identifying the roles that pique your interest can help you clarify your overall career trajectory ‒‒ and tell you what you need to do to pursue it. From there, you can focus on developing the specific skills and types of experience you'll need to reach your goals, and you (and your resume) will be stronger because of it.
Go to the pros
Consider enlisting the help of an expert. While you can collect important information and give yourself deadlines, there are professional resume writers who can do the hard work for you. The resume-writing process is time-consuming, and trying to balance that with a full-time job is overwhelming, to say the least. By investing in a professionally written resume, you'll have more time to focus on thriving in your current job ‒‒ and you'll have a stronger resume in the end as well.
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