Getting Ahead of Your Career

By: John Focht

Keeping your resume up to date is a pivotal step in the success of your career.  Much like going to the dentist or doctor, reviewing and updating your resume should be a regularly scheduled activity that you perform.

Let’s face it, job security these days is not exactly what it once was.   This is not our parent’s work place anymore.  Today’s work force is threatened by more than just downsizing, but also threatened by local jobs being moved overseas.  Many companies today offshore certain jobs that can be handled in countries in like India, Russia, and Argentina at a much lower rate.  Customer service related jobs and IT related jobs can be outsourced to offshore markets literally overnight.

What can you as a professional do about the potential of your job being shipped offshore?  Unfortunately, there is not much you can do as far as protecting your job from being outsourced.  What you can do though, is take what is in your control and proactively keep it updated: your resume.

Your resume should be a living, breathing document that you review on a regular, ongoing basis.  Much like taking care of yourself with regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments, you should be regularly reviewing and updating your resume.

For many, your resume is a piece of paper that has not been updated since you took your current job.  Unfortunately for some, it may have been years, or even decades, since you last updated your resume.  This puts you at an immediate disadvantage if ever in a situation where you find yourself in a position where you need to look for new employment immediately.

Without an updated in resume in place, you can spend weeks just going back over previous jobs, job functions, roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments that you garnered over the years.  All the while spinning your wheels in trying to get your resume updated, the job that fit you best may have been placed with another individual.

To nullify any wasted time in recreating your resume from scratch, take responsibility of your career today and make best -practice of getting your resume updated.  Your resumes are your own responsibilities. In taking responsibility for your resume follow these guidelines:

Keep Daily and Weekly Notes and Logs:

Generally speaking, even looking back at the quarter in review, you are likely to leave out an important accomplishment you provided your team, your department, or your company, that you may forget to add to your resume.  To help ensure you don’t leave out any of those small wins, keep an ongoing log that you update at the end of each week.  Your accomplishments log should only list accomplishments for that week.  By keeping a weekly log of accomplishments, you will help yourself at quarter end when trying to update your resume.

Of course, you want to ensure you are keeping a log of accomplishments that are relevant to your resume.  There is a fine line between keeping a thorough log of accomplishments for your resume vs. listing every single task of your job.  Your resume should not be a task list, but a document that provides a prospective employer your job title, responsibilities, training or certifications, tool sets, and accomplishments (as well as education).  Be aware when keeping your accomplishments log that you are not inundating yourself with every little detail.

Review and Update Your Resume on a Quarterly Basis:

Get into the practice of reviewing and updating your resume at the end of each quarter: March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31.  As noted above, there are always additional projects, functions, responsibilities, and accomplished you have experienced within each quarter that deserves some review and recognition on your resume.

Review your weekly accomplishments log and pull out the items that truly need to be publicized on your resume for prospective employers. Remember, you do not want to overload a prospective employer with every small task you accomplished.  You need to be cognizant of the fact that your resume should highlight your job title, job responsibilities, and accomplishments within your job.

By reviewing your accomplishments log, you have provided yourself a shorter window of time to look back and reflect upon.  It can be very challenging reflecting back on what you accomplished from January 1 through March 31.  Reviewing your accomplishments log provides you quick bursts of key wins you provided your team, your department, or your company that you can now update to your resume.

In reviewing your accomplishments log each quarter, you have also put yourself in a much better state of mind in updating your resume.  Your resume update now is simply a series of small updates.  Even if there is only one accomplishment worth noting from this past quarter, you have proactively taken your resume into your control and put it in a better position than it was last quarter.

Continual Resume Edits from Previous Jobs:

Now that you have got yourself in the habit of reviewing and updating your resume on a quarterly basis, you need to also be aware of the overall length of your resume; this needs to be factored into your quarterly review resume process too.  You want to ensure that you are not adding additional pieces to your resume without removing other items from it.

Most human resource recruiters state a resume should be one to two pages in length.  Anything more than two pages generally do not make it past the first round of reviews from the recruiter’s desk.

You need to be aware of the length of your resume when adding your most up-to-date accomplishments and job responsibilities.  To do this, be sure when updating your resume with recent accomplishments, job functions, or job title, review the other jobs on your resume and slice-and-dice what is no longer needed or applicable.

The format of your resume should be your most recent jobs first and list backwards your previous employments.  Prospective employers are most interested in what appears at the top of your resume which should be your current and most recent jobs.  What appears at the bottom of your resume should provide your early professional experience.

When updating your most recent accomplishments, be sure to trim the fat from the bottom.  Again, you need to be sure you are keeping your resume tailored to one to two pages.  Anything more than two pages is typically being filed in the deleted folder of the recruiters email system.

Now that you are in the habit of quarterly reviews and updates of your resume, you have now proactively positioned yourself to be equipped if an unfortunate event occurs where you need to immediately look for new employment.  The plus side of that equation is you will be able to hit the pavement that day in search of your next employer.  You will not be left spinning your wheels for weeks on end trying to update your resume.

You have also made yourself much more marketable in the workplace.  With an updated resume, and a weekly accomplishments list readily at your disposal, you have also placed yourself in an enviable position making the job market work for you.  Searching for a new job is much easier when you have an impeccable resume that can be shipped to a recruiter’s desk at a moment’s notice.

Get ahead of your career today.  Make your resume and your career work for you.



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