You may not be actively searching for a new job right now, and you may have no plans to leave your current workplace, at least not in the foreseeable future. But after years of experience in the job search and job placement industry, we've learned one valuable lesson: there is no foreseeable future. Anything can happen at any time. And if a golden opportunity comes along unexpectedly (which it can) or the bottom drops out of your current comfortable situation (which it might), you'll want to be ready. It's never a bad idea to keep an updated, polished, edited resume on hand so when the time comes you can take action and make your next career move without hesitation. Here are a few resume tips and fixes that can keep you on your toes.
Keep a running list.
Do you keep a journal? If so, then you're already in the habit of documenting the day's events and keeping track of important milestones in real time. Now it's time to apply that positive habit to your career development process. Every time you hit a home run at work—even a small one—write down the details of the episode before they fade from your mind. Keep a list of your accomplishments, including short descriptions, dates, and the names of the peers, clients, or supervisors involved in the event. You'll be glad you have this documentation when it's time to negotiate your salary, request a raise, or look for a new position.
Know what you want BEFORE you see it.
If a great opportunity passed in front of you tomorrow, would you recognize it? Or would you only appreciate the significance of the moment a few weeks later? Windows close and open at a rapid pace, and you'll be more likely to land the opportunities you want if you know what these opportunities look like. If you're content and not restless, that's fine, but it's also okay to want things—including opportunities to learn, take on new responsibilities, face new challenges, and reach for higher rungs on the ladder. Get ready to act when your moment comes by figuring out what you need to know and who might be able to help you.
Keep your work experience updated.
When you need to update your resume by adding a few entries to your work history section, don't go scrambling for your records. Instead, add these entries to your open resume file as they happen. At any given point, the most recent job listed in your document should be your current one.
Build out your skills section in real time.
Every time you complete a management training course or learn how to use a new software platform, your thoughts should turn to your resume. Add in new skills as you accumulate them—don't wait. In the meantime, prune out outdated or rusty skill sets, and get rid of those that no longer apply to your current ambitions.
Use a checklist.
Every few months, feel free to take out your resume document and run through this quick checklist, just to make sure everything is up to speed.
- Does your summary still apply to your goals and personal profile? What you wanted a year ago may not reflect what you want—or what you can offer—today.
- Is your contact information still valid? Don't forget to change your resume details when you move or switch email addresses.
- Have you added your latest educational credential? Don't forget to mention training courses, new certifications, and new licenses.
- Does your work history still work? Every time you step into a new position, make sure this change is reflected in your resume. Remove older positions as they become outdated and less relevant to your goals.
- Does your skills section belong in 2016 or 1997? Only you can decide. Just don't let negligence and the passage of time decide for you.
- Update your references. Keep a current list of names and contact information, and don't rely on the same professors and supervisors who supported you ten years ago.
— For more on how to keep your document fresh, available, and accurate, use the tools and resources on MyPerfectResume.