When You Should Update Your Resume

Since you’ve been gainfully employed for a good stretch of time, you may haven’t had to update your resume for a while. We get it. It’s no longer a priority. But if you let your resume turn stale, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

You never know when you may get laid off or when a job opportunity might present itself out of the blue. For many people, updating their resume feels like going to the dentist—they avoid it at all costs. Granted, keeping your resume constantly updated isn’t realistic, but there are benchmarks in your career when your resume needs a tune-up.

  1. When you start a new job.

The best resumes highlight quantifiable achievements—not job responsibilities. But when you’re a new employee, you don’t have any real accomplishments yet. Instead of copying and pasting snippets from the job posting onto your resume, tell the story of why you were hired.

Now is also the time to update your career summary section. Coming off the job search circuit, you should tweak this part of your resume while your value proposition is fresh in your mind.

  1. When you get promoted.

Take the opportunity to celebrate, but don’t forget to update your resume, which should always include your current position. Don’t just slap on your new job title though; explain why you earned the promotion and don’t be afraid to brag.

  1. When you complete a big project

Did you close a major transaction? Wrap up development on a new product? These accomplishments need to be reflected on your resume. Any time you finish a successful project, make sure it goes directly onto your resume. Citing quantifiable results is crucial (e.g., “implemented new accounting system that saved the company $50,000 in annual operating costs”). Include such details as how many people worked on the team, what your role entailed and the hurdles you crossed.

  1. When you get laid off

Getting fired is one thing (in which case, you’ll need to do more than update your resume); getting laid off as part of a downsizing is a different story. Unemployment isn’t a black mark if it’s a result of the company’s performance.

Part of bouncing back, though, involves updating your resume. And rather than try to hide the fact that you’re unemployed—a strategy that could put off prospective hiring managers—include in your summary section why you were terminated (e.g., “laid off as part of a 20% reduction in staff”).

Additionally, you’ll want to update your work experience to reflect what it is you’re currently doing. Yet, putting that you’re now a “job seeker” isn’t very appealing to prospective hiring managers. The better move: Join a professional association and take on a volunteer position, such as an events coordinator, that you can add to your resume. Showing that you’re actively involved with an industry organization clears up any assumption that you’re just sitting there twiddling your thumbs while you look for a job.

  1. When you acquire new skills.

Whether it’s an accreditation, certification or new proficiency (e.g., learning a second language), skills strengthen your resume, so keep yours current. Industry-specific credentials can also serve as keywords to help your resume pass through application tracking systems.

Do a quarterly assessment of your resume and remove any outdated skills or obsolete software. Look at job postings in your field to determine what skills are in demand.

2 thoughts on “When You Should Update Your Resume

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