Keeping your resume up-to-date should be a habit guide, Future property online advice, New building design
Keeping your resume up-to-date should be a habit
21 Mar 2022
Just as in other professions, keeping one’s resume current and contemporary is a must. Even if you have no designs on changing jobs, one cannot predict what opportunities or changes in circumstances might befall you. And having to update a document when stressed is not conducive to writing.
How many of us have impressed a client or somebody we met at a social event who then handed us a card and suggested we should talk more? If you are like most people, the thought of having to update your resume coming on the back of something unexpected is stressful. More than likely, rather than deal with the stress, most of us will procrastinate and eventually forget about the opportunity.
Arguably, like the boy scouts, it’s best to be prepared. Instead of worrying that whatever we have at hand is out-of-date and formatted in a style no longer fashionable, we should have a document near-ready to release.
And think about it. It is not just career opportunities but conferences where we are asked to talk, or situations where our resumes are included as part of the supporting material for a bid, demonstrating we have the experience to complete the proposed engagement.
Throughout our careers, we take on projects and accomplish things, and yet, when we think back, we often forget some key lessons that should be communicated. Hence, periodically stepping back and writing a paragraph and some bullet points is a good habit to have. Perhaps you schedule it annually, make it part of your New Year’s resolution effort, or follow-up filing your tax return with a session reflecting on the last year.
Aside from the resume, you should also be sure to keep any professional information about yourself accurate. This might be on a social platform like Facebook, but more so, on the platform for professional bodies and in general, LinkedIn. Likewise, you should ensure that where you write something meaningful, you keep those links and include such should anybody search for you.
When you write about yourself, ensure that you show your skills by giving examples of relevant experience. You might if you have written an article, link to such. Or if you participated in a successful project that was written up, include a reference.
Having recommendations, which can be accessed via a social/professional platform is also useful. Encouraging clients, colleagues, and managers to write 5 lines should not be too demanding, especially if your work was appreciated. And if you make it nearly effortless by sending a standard link requesting a reference and/or a skills assessment (as LinkedIn does), most people readily respond, usually humbled by the respect you have implied by simply asking for such.
While there may be many experiences to talk about, overloading a resume with every skill developed, project completed, or skill mastered, will not communicate well. As expected, it can communicate one being a jack of all trades and master of none. Thus, while we should document periodically our latest experiences, rather than bundling them into an all-purpose resume, it makes more sense to craft a couple of different documents that highlight a specific type of work you would consider.
To this point, understanding something about the audience is key. Although you may have a resume ready to go, tinkering with it, ever so slightly, can help to highlight those skills and experience that will tick boxes in the mind of the recruiter. If you are prompted by a job listing, read and re-read the posting to tease out what experience the recruiter is looking for. It may be knowing a particular software product, development process, accreditation, or geography. And then, look through what you have to offer that you can relate to their shopping list.
By having a catalog of experiences and skills already documented and a general timeline of your experiences, you can quickly generate a resume that would fit the opportunity identified. When you do bring those snippets together, make sure that the final document does not have any of the epic failures that plague many a resume: poor templating, useless information, being dull and having incongruities.
Like fashion, resumes are also changing. Whatever you might have learned, which might be 20 years old, is no longer the done thing. So, if what you have is passe, invest the time to make it contemporary.
When most of us talk about ourselves, we know who we are, and we can sound boring. Check that you are using an active voice, showing that you accomplished things. The same can be said for filler text. Recruiters appreciate candidates that do not waste time. So be ruthless when you edit and crop out whatever does not hammer home the specific skill you have that relates to the job they require, or explains how you got to the point where you are now.
This brings us to the other point. People can claim all sorts of stuff. Recruiters sense mendacity when the evidence you offer does not stack up. Claiming 20 years of experience and only graduating 10 years ago is an obvious red flag. The same applies to overlapping dates and omissions in critical experience necessary to do a job. Ensure that everything fits together. While you might think you can just apologize for being sloppy, that will count against you in the eyes of a recruiter.
It is doubtful that you will have all the skills wanted. But this is where a cover letter comes in. The cover letter can build the bridges between what you know, are learning, and would be able to pick up quickly based upon what you have already done, your attitude, and what else you bring to the table. Even if your procrastination voice is telling you, you do not need to send a cover letter, ignore it. It’s wrong you need both a cover letter and a resume to get a job.
The only things in life that are certain, are death and taxes. But if you look around, change too is a certainty. So be prepared to take your skills elsewhere and be among the first to respond when opportunity knocks.
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