Have you ever stumbled upon a job opportunity too great to pass up, only to find out that you needed to apply for it yesterday? I often have clients scrambling to get their resumes done within extremely short timelines thanks to this exact situation. It isn’t too much of a problem if you simply need to add a few skills and a bit of work experience, but when your resume is completely outdated, you’re basically asking for a miracle.
There is, however, an easy fix for this situation: update your resume as you go! It sounds simple, like it should be second nature — but unfortunately, this is most often not the case.
Add New Jobs to Your Resume as Soon as You Start
Chances are you already have a job description given to you by HR. This, along with the job advertisement itself and the information in your onboarding package, will make it pretty easy to update your resume as soon as you accept a new job. The company-generated job description is a gem, and it’s not something to simply throw away or forget about in your “unnecessary paperwork” pile.
The same thing goes for new responsibilities and skills: adding them to your resume as they come along ensures that you won’t forget about them later.
Don’t even worry about the spacing and formatting as you go. Your main priority is to just get all the information listed. You can always edit your resume and make it look pretty later, but finding job descriptions, skills, and project information from a while back is much harder to do.
Do It Now — Because It Gets Harder Later
Trust me on this: the longer you are with a company, the harder it is to create a resume — if you are not continually adding to it, that is. I’ve worked with quite a few clients who were at a company for 10+ years. When it was time for them to start looking at new opportunities, they struggled to obtain information about their prior positions.
It may seem unnecessary to update your resume when you’re applying for an internal promotion because the company knows you and has firsthand experience with your quality of work, but taking the easy option now is sure to lead to suffering later on down the road.
If updating your resume is too intimidating, or you aren’t comfortable doing the work by yourself, you should at least keep copies of everything and file it all in one place. This way, if you do seek professional help when it comes time to update your resume, you have all the necessary documents ready and on hand.
I always suggest creating a folder on your computer or in your cloud storage system labeled “Resume Information.” Save everything you may need in the future in this folder. Include things like job descriptions, recognition emails from bosses, project descriptions, certification information, specialized training/coursework, etc. The more information you can gather, the better.
Also, make sure to label the different documents within the folder so you can easily sort through them when you need to. The beautiful thing about technology is that, if you add files to this folder as they come along, you can sort through everything by date and actually create a chronological timeline of your work information. This makes creating a resume infinitely simpler than trying to remember all of the information or duties you took on.
Resumes Are for Everyone — Not Just Active Job Seekers
It seems as though there is a belief that you must be unhappy with your current job if you are working on your resume, but this is absolutely not the case. It’s possible to love your job and still want to be prepared in case a new or exciting offer shows up.
Being proactive about your resume will only benefit you by preparing you for the unknown, and it will give you a leg up when the time does come for a new career move.
Please, do yourself a favor and at least gather the information you need to build your resume. Even if that’s the only step you take, your future self (and/or resume writer) will thank you.