Once you’re done listing your accomplishments for your review, take a few minutes to update your resume. In this economy, it doesn’t hurt to have your resume ready. It also pays to have it in a good economy when a headhunter might call or a friend could clue you in to an excellent opportunity. Your resume should be in a constant state of readiness – but make you sure you prep it on your own time and on your own computer.
Fix the Format
Most resumes are emailed or entered into online forms these days. Although bullet points look lovely on a printed resume you bring to an interview, you should also save it as a text file that uses commas rather than tabs and hard line breaks rather than bullet points. In a text resume, everything will be flush left. As a final test, email it to a friend or a secondary email address to see how it appears once it’s gone through the intertubes. Edit it again to fix anything that produces odd characters.
Update Your Objective
I usually tailor my objective to the job I’m looking for, however you can have a general job objective on there as a reminder of your primary goal. Make it a stretch, but also incorporate your current skills.
Update Your Title and Dates
Update your titles and employment dates to reflect any promotions since you last updated your resume. If you’ve received several promotions, consider listing all of them on your resume to show your steady progression across a period of time. For each bump, indicate the initial responsibility you took on as part of the new job.
Look at your review. Copy any of those accomplishments over to your resume. If you listed a specific client that may be subject to a non-disclosure agreement, delete the specific name. Instead write: “Developed a promotional strategy for a Fortune 500 company that resulted in a 10% increase in sales.”
Almost any job will result in additional skills. If you have a skills section at the end of your resume, add the additional tools, programs, or skills you’ve mastered, especially if they’re highly specialized to your industry and training someone in them requires a fee or time investment.
Update Your Education
If you’ve completed a degree or received certifications, update that section of your resume as well. You should also mention if you’re in the process of receiving a higher degree, like an MBA, with an expected graduation date.
Update Your LinkedIn
After you update your resume, update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your current title. I’ve seen people list responsibilities and accomplishments on their profiles, but I’m not sure I want to disclose all of that on a public internet format. I’d rather give an overview and then send a resume for follow-up.
Tackle the Salary History Question
There are three ways to handle the issue of salary history, which some prospective employers require for consideration. Personally, I hate applications that require a salary history, especially when you’re planning to change fields. That said, here’s how to handle the issue:
- Prepare a second resume that includes salaries (also prepare a text version.)
- Add a salary history only when requested.
- Include a salary history in the cover letter, but not on the resume itself.
If you’re just updating your resume but don’t have immediate plans to submit it, leave off your salary. You don’t know how many raises you’ll receive between now and the time you actually look for a new job.
In addition to helping you prepare for new opportunities, having an updated resume may even help you keep your current job. During layoffs or mergers, some employees must re-interview for their jobs. You’ll be ready at a moment’s notice if you already have your resume updated.