When you electronically dust off your resume when you are ready to look for that new position -- has it been three years?? -- you'll find that the resume needs a lot more than dusting off. To make it your best resume, much of it will need to be re-written.
That's where the trouble begins. Instead of a quick update with a few additional lines, you stare at the resume and it looks old. You wonder why you said the things you said in your last job. And your current position? Nothing there.
Then you start to fill in some of the blanks. Then get overwhelmed because there is a lot to do, there isn't any easy place to get the information, and you don't know where to start.
One of two things happen, then. One, you're semi-desperate so you casually and quickly slap something together to get stuff updated. Or, two, you stop.
You can imaging neither one of those situations working out very well. When the only job of a resume is to get the interview, throwing something together doesn't bode well for getting one. And stopping doesn't work well for getting an interview either.
Here, planning is the cure. There are really only two important actions you need to take with your resume so that when you need it, it is ready to go.
This, perhaps, seems a little often. It's not. The reason for the six month time frame is most of us have a review of some sort every six months. The mid-year and the year end. In order to do a self-review, you need to gather up your facts, accomplishments, successes and build them into your own performance review.
Since you need to do this anyway, that's the perfect time to also update your resume.
More information in the resume is okay here. It's easy to remove information when staring at a job description and checking it against the resume.
It's hard to try and re-create those accomplishments that seemed boring at the time and critical now with the job description showing you a perfect fit...if only you could remember the good stuff you didn't put in your resume back then!
I like to think of it as one long resume (a CV is the definition of a long resume as it has all of your good stuff in it). Then, when I'm looking at a job description, I save it as a new file, pare away the stuff that doesn't apply to the job description and submit away.
And the other important piece -- you are under no pressure when you update your resume every six months; it is just something you do. This is a very different feeling than two hours after you have decided in no uncertain terms that your done and it is time to look for a job. Lots of pressure to get the resume right -- and most of us don't work as well under pressure.
You want how your work impacted business results. You want numbers around what you did. You want context for the scale of your work, the adversities you overcame, the successes you built with your team.
What you don't want are your responsibilities in the job. "Responsible for evaluating proposals in the procurement department" doesn't cut it.
"Evaluated and recommended purchases on 25 different competitive bids on business worth $2.1 million in revenue." Yeah. That.
Hiring managers only care about your ability to help the manager achieve his or her business goals. Showing that you can accomplish stuff means you can do it again. Talking about your responsibilities doesn't do that.
Updating your resume every six months -- looking for a job or not -- and focusing on your business accomplishments resulting from your work is the key to your job search readiness.
If you have to pull the trigger quickly -- like when your department gets totally reorganized and your new manager didn't work out so well the last time you had that manager -- means you can confidently pull out that resume, just updated, and start the job search rock and roll with confidence.
And with that Cubicle Warrior edge.