How to Prepare Now for the Resume Update You’ll Need Later, Part 1

How to Prepare Now for the Resume Update You’ll Need LaterA client of mine recently landed a promotion. Forward-thinking by nature, he asked me what kind of information he should be stockpiling over the next year in preparation for a resume update when he needs one. Smart!

What Information You’ll Need to Collect & Maintain

Although preparing for a resume update is generally not as labor-intensive as it is to write a resume from scratch, there is still preparation to be done.

Collecting and updating the following on a regular basis will greatly streamline your resume updating process:

  • Titles & Dates: Each new title you hold should be detailed, along with the relevant start and end dates in the position.
  • Responsibilities: Whether through a job description, job posting, or brain dump, make sure you jot down your key functional responsibilities and scope of authority in any new role you hold. How many direct and indirect staff did you lead? What programs or projects did you own? What teams did you lead? What budget or P&L did you manage?
  • Achievements: What did you achieve in the role? Here, it’s most helpful if you capture achievements in the form of CAR (challenge | action | results) format. What challenge, situation, or problem were you facing? What actions, strategies, or solutions did you put into play as a consequence? What results did you achieve by doing so? Remember to keep your results in numerical form whenever possible.
  • Impacts: When you consider your achievements, what impacts did they have on your company or organization? How did your efforts affect bottom-line or top-line performance? Profitability? Cost containment? Productivity?
  • New Skills: Have you honed any skills you possessed prior or gained any new skills since your resume was written? While these often relate to any new education or training you may have completed, don’t overlook skills gained through new assignments, projects, or team initiatives for which you may have signed on.
  • New Education & Training: Have you completed a new degree or training program or taken relevant new professional development coursework? Are you enrolled in a new certification or licensure program? If these credentials relate to your career goal, then the details must be captured, including the name of the training, the organization or institution, and the date achieved or completed.
  • Career Goal Shifts: If your resume was written by a professional, she or he will have designed the document around your most critical career goal. Every time you update your resume, you should review these goals to see if it has shifted. In between updates, periodically ask yourself what’s next for you career-wise. Do you still want the level and type of role you pursued in your last job hunt, or are you moving toward wanting something new?

How to Gather This Information

While this information-gathering is by no means encyclopedic in scope, it’s imperative that you have a simple way to gather and store these details, so you can preserve them for your new update regardless of what surprises arise in the meantime (Hurricane or tornado? Merger or acquisition? Reorganization or layoff?).

  • Performance Evaluations: Probably the simplest way to prompt your memory about your achievements in your current role is to use the same format your company uses for performance evaluations, if the form in question has a place for capturing your key wins over the last year. Storing your resume update material in the same form not only eases the process of maintaining your professionally written resume in excellent shape, it also helps you to complete your piece of the performance evaluation process organically.
  • Spreadsheets or Word Files: If your company doesn’t do evaluations or doesn’t include an achievements section, then a simple MS Excel or Word file will do. You don’t need a fancy process, just the habit of writing your accomplishments down periodically.
  • Cloud: Because bad things happen unexpectedly, it’s wise to store your update details in a way that is protected, confidential, and physically safe. Cloud storage is one option, whether you use Google Docs or software like Evernote or DropBox.
  • Print: Even a print file will work, so long as you can get your hands on it when you need it in an emergency that affects the building you work in or your job status.
  • Monthly, Bi-Monthly, or Quarterly Review: All the above data can be collected in a short monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly review of your current role.
  • Annual Career Check-Up: If you don’t already do so, you should consider giving your career and work life an annual check-up. When including a review of your career management plan (you have one, right?), such a check-up is like periodically checking a compass or GPS on a long journey ~ how else will you know whether your career is on track with your expectations and financial needs?

Join me next week for part 2 of this blog post, when we’ll cover what types of records you should keep and when to get your resume updated. You may surprised at the advice I’ll share.

About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.