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4 Reasons to Update Your Resume Regularly

by Kevin Mulligan

Not having a job is terrifying and stressful. It can be draining to worry if you will get a return call from your most recent interview or if you will be able to keep the lights on next month. You polish your resume time and time again, targeting it toward specific jobs and writing up cover letters for each application.

Then you finally land the new job. All is well in the world.

After getting a job and jumping out of the ranks of the unemployed, it is easy to ignore your resume. You just got this great new job. Your bills are paid and you have income coming in.

You don’t need it now, right?

Exactly! At least, if you like being back in the unemployment line. If not, read on.

Why You Need to Consistently Update Your Resume

4 reasons to update your resume regularly

Don’t think you need to update your resume after you get a job or have been employed for many years? Think again. Layoffs, mergers, realignments, and other causes of job loss are always a possibility. The last thing you want to do is be out on the street before you can figure out what happened – or what to do. These tips can help you avoid that mistake, and others.

Avoid Panic During Job Loss

The absolutely worst time to update your resume is the day you get laid off from your job. You are on an emotional roller coaster of panic, fear, and anxiety. You’re right back where you were the last time you were unemployed and you will not be prepared.

In this emotional frenzy it is unlikely you will remember what you did on a day to day basis and what achievements were met on your watch. Looking back every 6 months or so will help you remember some of the critical impacts you had for your employer during that time.

Remember Major Projects

Likewise, it can be easy to forget about major projects just a few years removed from them. Sure, you might remember the overall idea of the project that saved the company. But specific details that a hiring manager might want to hear about? Not likely. This is especially true if you stay with the same employer for a significant length of time. You’ll be surprised how much you actually do in a given year when you start to document it. Take credit for your work!

Connect with Other Professionals

This tip is more helpful for LinkedIn profiles and digital resumes than a traditional paper resume, but updating your major projects and the work you are doing will give you more opportunity to network, connect, and collaborate with other professionals in your field. Having vague details won’t attract anyone to want to learn more about your work, details will.

Find Your Next Job

Of course a resume helps you find your next job; you probably just used it to get your last job.

There’s a key difference here, though. It’s critical: the best time to find your next job is while you still have your old job.

Period.

Employers want to hire employed people. Employed individuals’ skills are fresh and another company appears to value them, so as a prospective employer we should be interested in hiring that person, too. They are at least worth an interview.

Contrast that with the person who has been unemployed for 14 months and is struggling to get by. Hiring managers start to wonder why no one else has hired this candidate. They presume the candidate’s skills are out of date even if they got job training of some kind since their last job.

It’s just not as easy when you’re unemployed. So be proactive, keep your resume updated, and find the next job when you are the most desirable: as someone else’s employee.


Published or updated June 19, 2012.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl Lassegue

Very interesting point: “The best time to find your next job is while you still have your old job.” It seems like it becomes a snow ball. The longer you stay unemployed, the more you suffer financially and your chances of finding employment decrease.

How often would you recommend people to update their resume? Do you have a specific time period in mind?

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2 Rob

This is probably good advice but does not help you after you all ready have been unemployed for some quite some time. It is much easier landing a new job when you all ready have a job. You confidence is higher and you have a easier time negotiating. But if you all ready out of a job and maybe have been out of work six months or maybe a year or longer it becomes harder. The longer your out the harder it is to find a job. The job gaps become a bad subject that the interviewers always have to ask about. It puts you in a bad position.

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3 Elizabeth @ Simple Finance

I work freelance for multiple contractors, and I do often update my resume – but I find that, with so many contractors, that it starts to look harried. Any tips to streamline it?

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4 Ryan Guina

Elizabeth, I recommend reading this article on how to write a resume. It covers resume writing for a variety of circumstances. In your case, it would probably be best to maintain a list of skills and services you provide, then customize your resume for each client. This way you can give them an up to date resume that highlights your strengths as it applies to the job they need accomplished.

To make this easier, it is a good idea to keep a master resume that tracks everything applicable that you have done, then you can cut out the items which don’t apply to the current situation. It may also be a good idea to maintain a portfolio or online resume for similar reasons.

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