By: Revanche

Updating your resume is like banking your savings

June 11, 2010

When do you think about your shiny resume and sparkling accomplishments?  About as often as you dust your high school or college diploma, right? Which is to say: never, unless you need it?

If you’re nodding right now, consider yourself my special guest audience: Your resume needs constant weeding and tending, watering and attention just like your savings.

The time to save, and the time to update your resume, is before you need it.

I’m three months into the new job and it’s been a blur of activity, new concepts, crazy challenges, and learning to speak a whole different set of jargon.  It’s going to take another three months to start to feel settled in and leave behind the trauma, trials and travails. In that time, however, it’s entirely possible that I will have forgotten important details about my work life because they’ve become old hat or because my memory’s crap and painful memories are best forgotten.  Six months after that, my accomplishments become even more hazy and so very “yeah .. I did … something.”

Of course I think that I won’t forget the really significant things but how long do you suppose your memory will hold out?  Heck, I kick butt at my job but get so caught up that I forget what day it is all the time.

I’m no fool.  I’m writing down my job summary on the resume now, and keeping a spreadsheet of accomplishment by the month to boot.  Those will also serve as my talking points when I sit down for a six-month review and present my case for a raise. In twelve months, I’ll have the data ready to rinse and repeat.

In however many months after that, when I’m ready to move on, the routinely updated resume won’t be more than a few months behind my actual work and won’t reek of last job staleness.  And if it comes to a downturn or a layoff or any other depressing means of termination? I won’t be writing my resume in the trough of depression – that never makes for a good sell. 

Like an emergency fund, a stellar resume cannot be built overnight – you’ve got to put the time and effort in earning the nuggets of glory to populate your list of accomplishments and you’ve also got to record them. Neglect one or the other, and your final withdrawal will seem pretty paltry at the close of any job.

6 Responses to “Updating your resume is like banking your savings”

  1. Right on. When I used to teach resume writing, I’d invite an HR person to speak to classes about what works and what doesn’t work. She urged students to keep their resumes updated — and remember to back them up on flash drives or external hard disks! — for a variety of reasons. In addition to the obvious, that you could find yourself looking for work any time, volunteer organizations sometimes ask for a current resume, and you may need it if you come up for promotion or some other opportunity comes open in your organization.

    She also suggested that people keep a running record of accomplishments on the job. This makes your annual review go A LOT more easily. As she pointed out, we often forget all the things that happen during a year. She also pointed out that when something is (ahem) less than an accomplishment, it’s a good idea to put that in your running record along with the reasons that things went wrong and what you will do to prevent a similar problem in the future. This is also something that’s likely to be discussed in your annual review.

  2. mOOm says:

    In academia we keep the CV up to date all the time. At least anyone serious who wants to let people know what they’ve written etc. does.

  3. I think for people that have been in the same job for awhile, that a resume seems almost like an insurmountable task. But in this day and age, you need to be prepared for anything. If you add major projects or whatever as they complete, you will know exactly what to say as opposed to waiting a year later.

    A friend of mine was let go, and she didnt’ start job hunting for a long time just because she couldn’t get over the resume ‘hump’.

    Great post.

  4. Darren says:

    So true. I honestly don’t think about updating my resume unless I’m about to apply for a new position or I think there’s trouble at work. By that time, I struggle to think of useful information to put on there.

    In reality, I should be updating it somewhat regularly, so it’s ready when I need it (just like the emergency fund).

  5. Revanche says:

    @Funny: That’s an excellent resource you provided, I hope your students appreciated it.

    @mOOm: I’ve seen that and thought it made perfect sense. Granted, it’s “easier” with CVs if you’re updating publications and can always be referenced at a later date when you’re updating.

    @Everyday Tips: Thank you and you make excellent points. It’s too depressing to update at need.

    @Darren: I hope that it helps to make updating it a habit!

  6. Paula's says:

    I agree with this article!

    It’s been my habit to update mine within a week of a new position, because oftentimes I have the job description (incl. title) still in hand.

    That time saver means there can be more focus on tailoring the cover letter & minor revisions.

    An ounce of prevention & all that …

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