I love January. I love the excitement of people fully engaged and committed to their New Year’s Resolutions. I love the excitement of the prevailing attitude of: “New year, new start, new goals, new me!”
Many resolution lists include something about a job and falls within one of the three general categories of job seekers:
1. I want a lateral or upward move in my career
2. I want to transition into a new industry
3. I am content where I am, I just want to be prepared
Personally, I think you should always be prepared – just in case.
I cannot tell you the number of people that I have had reach out to me and say, “I just got contacted by someone for an amazing opportunity, I wasn’t even looking! Can you prepare my resume so I can get it over to them tomorrow? Oh yeah, and I haven’t done a resume or updated mine in over 10 years – is that a problem?”
I want to take a look at each category individually. Today is all about updating your resume, just in case; and the six things to help you get your resume in shape.
Remember, your resume is your brag book, your cheerleader and your guide – if you allow it to be. All you have to do is give it the information and it will steer you in the right direction. It can only work for you if you work on it.
1. Revamp or Create an Opening
Right under your letterhead you should have an opening paragraph answering an employer’s most important question: “What can you do for me?” How has this changed since your last revamp? Does it still represent and sound like you?
If you have an objective statement detailing what you are looking for recreate this from the employer’s perspective. Why do they want to talk to you rather than hundreds of other candidates? What do you bring to the table? What are your strengths, how have you helped other organizations, teams or clients? What separates you from the competition?
2. Perform a Year in Review
Or longer if it has been over a year since you last updated your resume. Look back at the last year and answer the following questions:
- What did I improve?
- What did I learn?
- How did I contribute?
- What changed in my role?
Many times you fail to update your resume since landing your current job. If you have absolutely nothing about your current position, start with your job description as a basis. Do not copy it into your resume because odds are what you were hired to do and what you actually vary.
3. Update Credentials and Expertise
Did you earn any certifications over the past year or taken any specialized classes? Are there any new key words that you can add to your list of areas of expertise or proficiencies?
4. Keep a Notebook or Email Yourself
When you sit down to revamp your resume it can become overwhelming quite quickly and you might end up forgetting a lot of details.
Don’t stress yourself out and think you need to update your resume all in one night. Tackle one section at a time.
Often when you are not thinking about your resume something pops into your mind. Maybe a coworker makes a comment about a project you worked or you remember an accomplishment. When that happens, make an immediate note in your notebook or email it to your home email.
I have seen this somewhere and I love it: “the biggest lie I tell myself is that I will remember this later.”
If you get kudos at work, write them out or print them and keep them in a file at home or forward them to your home email. Kudos can be incorporated into your resume as: “known for…”, “recognized for…” etc.
Caveat – please only email your personal email if it is not against any corporate, privacy policies or serve as a red flag. I worked in an industry where every email – incoming and outgoing – was reviewed by compliance. This would not be a situation that I would feel comfortable emailing these things to my home email. In this case, I would text myself or create a memo folder in my phone’s notes section.
This is another reason I like good old fashioned notebooks.
5. Do a Little Research
Take some time to research similar or desired positions. Look at job descriptions, job postings and LinkedIn profiles. Are there any phrases, key words or ideas that align more with what you want to say or represent you in your resume? Incorporate those into your resume.
6. Draw the Line
A general rule of thumb is ten years for your career history. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, it is acceptable to detail the last 10 years of experience. Work history prior to that time can be included as line items without detailed explanations.
Take a look at your resume; can you condense some of your 10+ year past to make more room to expand upon your most recent accomplishments and value?
Utilizing these six tips can help get your resume into a much more ready state, just in case you get the call for that unexpected but very welcome opportunity.
Coming next: updating your resume for transition.