How to Prepare Now for the Resume Update You’ll Need Later, Part 2

Last week I shared the first half of this article, filled with tips to help you prepare for the resume update you will eventually need. Here are more ideas to elevate your readiness:

What Records to Keep

Along with the data noted last week, you may also wish to keep copies of relevant work-related files or documents related to your performance. I’m not talking about confidential files you have no right to hold onto, but am referring to files about you that you have every right to preserve.

  • Performance Evaluations: First and foremost, keep copies of all performance evaluations related to your job. While your scores may be relevant, the most critical part of such evaluations are the comments by your supervisor and any listings of your achievements during the applicable time period.
  • Metrics: If you’re in a role on which metrics are kept or you direct staff who report on specific metrics, it may be fruitful to keep copies of periodic metrics, so you can answer the before/after questions your resume writer will ask you later (What was the XYZ metric when you started? After your first year in the role?).
  • Special Reports/Strategies: If you authored any key documents – strategic plans, unusual reports, board documents, white papers, etc., make sure you keep a copy.
  • Presentation: Yes, presentations count, too. You don’t necessarily need to keep every presentation you create, but any that contain charts, graphs, and data are likely good sources for resume update details.
  • 360-Evaluations: These types of assessments are often great sources of quotes for resumes, cover letters, and executive bios, so hold onto them.
  • Personality Assessments: The same is true of personality assessments such as the MBTI or DISC – keep copies for later reference.
  • Your Career Management Plan: You can’t review your career management plan as part of your resume update or annual career check-up unless you first create one and store it somewhere safely.


When to Get Your Update

When is the best time to get a resume update done? Many people think it should be done as soon as they step into a new role, but this can be quite problematic. It makes great sense to place a new role on your LinkedIn profile as soon as you start, but the same isn’t true for your resume. Resumes are built around achievements, so updating your resume with a new job before you have a chance to collect any accomplishments is counterproductive in the extreme.

  • 3 to 12 Months into the New Role: In most jobs, once you’ve been in the role for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months you’ll have likely accumulated at least 2-6 new achievements that can be highlighted in your updated resume. Updating your resume before you have accumulated these accomplishments will weaken the document rather than strengthen it.
  • When a Key Initiative is Completed: If most of your work is tied up in a single key initiative, then when that initiative is finished or reaches a critical milestone would be a super time to update your resume.
  • When You Have Solid Results to Showcase: The bottom line is that you should delay your update until you have solid results and business impacts to include, unless you are fired or laid off.
  • When the Business Climate Begins to Shift: If you’re conducting an annual career check-up, then you will be building the habit of keeping an eye on key business success indicators and will know, likely in advance, when things are starting to head south in terms of sales, revenue, or profitability. When you see this handwriting on the wall, you are ready for a resume update.
  • When Your Industry or the Marketplace Begins to Change: Your annual career check-ups will also help you to monitor the state of your industry, your company’s markets, and the market as a whole. This way you will remain aware of what’s going on around you and can be prepared in the event of industry or economic downturns.

The bottom line is that your goal here is to update your resume before you need it and to keep it constantly ready to use within 24 hours’ notice should an unexpected opportunity arise or the axe falls. By taking less than 30 minutes every few months to update your career track record, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes.