Man Writing His Resume

Throughout your career, you continue to gain more experience and learn more skills as you move from job to job. You grow as an employee and absorb more knowledge and expertise. Despite this, many workers don’t keep their resume at pace with their current abilities. Instead, they elect only to update it when they make a major career change or begin a new job search. There are many reasons this hurts your career. Your resume should truly be a living document. We’ll discuss what that means, why it’s important, and the best way to do it.

What’s Wrong With the Old Way?

To start, let’s talk about why the traditional mindset regarding resume updating no longer is the best. Typically, most job seekers and professionals update their resume only when they’re looking for a new job. They spend hours fine tuning it, and then once they land an offer it begins to gather dust. It will remain untouched until they seek another new opportunity. For a few reasons, this isn’t the best approach.

Firstly, think about only updating your resume when you are looking. It conflicts with your own growth as a professional. You are continually learning new things, and they should be kept track of. Second, the old ‘shotgun blast’ approach for applying no longer works. When job boards first came out, candidates would send the same resume to every position. Nowadays, everyone is applying online, and there are more candidates than hiring managers to look through them.  This means a bland resume will get passed over almost every time. So how can you fight back? Tailor your resume depending on the position.

Crafting a Living Document

Every position you apply to is different, so why would you send the same resume to a different job? Sending a resume that is tailored specifically for a job will highlight your relevant qualifications and portray you as a better fit for the job. While you don’t need to change your resume for every individual position, it should be updated at least between industries (ex: marketing vs. sales). Update your skills section with the most relevant ones, and then look to your past experience. Within each of your past positions, the most relevant bullet points should be brought to the top, and rewritten to highlight how that experience would benefit you in this new position you are applying for.

It should also be kept current with trends. I can share a great example of this type of situation from my own field (social media). Consider one of my past positions: on my resume I have listed that I worked on a successful marketing campaign through the social video sharing platform, Vine. This works on my resume because it illustrates my skill in a specific platform, and shows I’ve had success with it. However, it was recently announced that Vine would be closed down by Twitter. Leaving this on my resume would make me look out of date, and out of touch with current trends. Don’t let this happen on your resume. If you’re having trouble recalling what you’ve done in past jobs, we have a recommendation for that as well.

Track Your Responsibilities 

To tackle this problem, we’ll start with making sure you have your current employment covered. Start by composing a document that lists all of your responsibilities in your current job. No matter how insignificant something may seem, include all of it. This way, when you look to update your resume, you have a list of all your responsibilities at your fingertips. You won’t have to wrack your brain to think of bullet points the next time you update your resume.

Now, to solve the same problem with past experience. Obviously you can’t travel back in time to your old job and easily recall everything you did. However, a great way to come close is to Google your old job description. There will be many different descriptions on the web, so find the one that looks the closest to yours. From there, pull any responsibilities that line up with your old job.

The Payoff

Going through all this work isn’t without benefits. In addition to getting better results back from applying, your job search won’t be in question as much as it would otherwise. Since you are constantly updating your resume and LinkedIn, it won’t seem suspicious if you were to start a job search. Many job seekers will only update their resume/LinkedIn when they begin searching, and this sets off a red flag for employers. Continuing to update this document and profile constantly means that your job search will never come into question.

All this hard work will certainly take some time, but it eventually does pay off. You will thank yourself later on down the road when the time for you to begin your job search arrives. Not only will you be better prepared with your resume and LinkedIn profile. You will also be more familiar and fluent with your own responsibilities and skills. This will help you speak to them and attest to your own strengths when you have to sit down for an interview.