An Out-of-Date Resume = A Missed Career Opportunity

An Out-of-Date Resume = A Missed Career Opportunity

I’m sure you’ve heard this adage: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s just as true of your resume as it is of many areas of life. Is your resume up to date? If not, you’re planning to miss out on those career opportunities that arise out of the blue and that you won’t want to ignore.

But failing to update your resume isn’t just a problem when it comes to being ready to seize unexpected career opportunities. It also means that you’re not ready to respond to potential layoffs or economic downturns proactively. And with more and more economists signaling that a downturn or a recession is coming in 2019 or 2020, it makes good sense to be ready just in case a sluggish economy impacts your industry, company, or job.

What to Update on Your Resume

Which parts of your resume should you update? The short answer is any part that needs new information added. But here are the sections you should review at least annually, if not semi-annually or quarterly.

  • Make sure your contact information is accurate. If you’re still using your college email or a Yahoo or Hotmail address, now is the time to update to something more modern such as Gmail. And if you’re still using an address on your resume, know that it’s okay to list just your city and state or country.
  • Update your position or networking title. A position title is exactly that – the title of the role you are pursuing in the moment. A networking title is a smidge broader and is perfect for using your resume in networking situations. A job title like “Director of Sales” might be restated as a networking title such as “Senior Sales Management Executive.” Note that while the title needs to be changed nearly each time you use your resume, your networking title covers a bit more territory (and is therefore perfect for networking situations).
  • Refresh your summary. If you’re using a professionally written resume, it may be that your summary is in great shape and won’t need to be updated much, if at all. But that’s true only if your branding is truly effective at showcasing your Why-Buy-ROI. If you include some achievement data in your summary – and you should – then this data should be reviewed and upgraded each time you update your resume.
  • Reposition your resume’s keywords. If your career focus has changed since you last updated your resume, then your keywords will also need to change. And since keywords evolve over time, you may need to update them even if your career targets remain the same to align them with current market trends. For example, 20 years ago the trend was to refer to interpersonal skills as relationship-building. Nowadays, the trend is to use the term stakeholder relationship management. All these terms mean basically the same thing, but one of them is more likely to be pertinent to your industry and should be used in your resume if relevant.
  • Insert any missing employment information. If you’ve changed jobs or employers since your last update, that information should be included in your resume. But even if you haven’t, you should review your position description to see if there are any missing details which are worth including. Have you gained new responsibilities? Been named to important committees or teams? Earned new honors or awards?
  • Refresh your achievements. Arguably the most important part of your resume to update is your achievements. It’s imperative to ensure that your resume always reflects your most impressive and relevant accomplishments as they relate to your current career goal. Remember to keep them brief and measurable and to use action verbs at the beginning of your sentences.
  • Add new credentials, coursework, and affiliations. While you may have few if any updates to your remaining resume sections, it makes sense to review them periodically to ensure you’re capturing the need for any changes. New degrees earned, new professional development coursework, or changes to your professional affiliations or volunteer work are all relevant updates.
  • Age-proof the length of your experience. As you acquire professional experience of more than 15 years, it’s important to periodically assess your resume’s age-proofing needs. To avoid being overlooked by Applicant Tracking Systems, you must omit employment dates for jobs you held more than 15-20 years in the past. To fail to do so means that you will be setting yourself up to be ignored by the databases that companies, recruiters, job boards, and LinkedIn use to filter and analyze candidate resumes. This, in turn, will mean that you won’t receive interviews for jobs for which you should be a slam-dunk candidate.

Resume Updates versus Resume Makeovers

Allow me to draw a distinction that you may find helpful. A resume update applies to a document that is in good shape but lacks a few bits of information such as those details outlined above. A resume makeover is a section-by-section and line-by-line rebuild. If your resume hasn’t been rebuilt by a credentialed resume writer in the past, then you almost certainly need one now. If, on the other hand, your resume has been rebuilt and you’re just seeking to keep it fresh, then an update is likely all that you’ll need.

Generally speaking, I recommend a resume rebuild if your last one was 5 years or more in the past, if you’ve had more than 3-4 job changes of a substantial nature, or if you’ve altered your career focus or job targets since your last makeover.

And while you’re getting your resume updated, make sure you update the rest of your career communications portfolio at the same time – your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter, your bio or marketing brief, and any case study documents you use for career management purposes. While these documents don’t often come to mind when thinking of a resume update, they’re just as important to refresh with recent job changes and current accomplishments.

How long has it been since you had your resume or LinkedIn profile updated?

In honor of National Update Your Resume Month, I’m offering a 20% discount on any resume updates to all my past clients. The discount applies not only to your resume update, but to any other updates or services you purchase at the same time, such as updates to your LinkedIn profile, cover letter, bio, or marketing brief, or any coaching services. Note, though, that this offer is valid only through 9/30/19 and only for returning clients of To schedule your updates, email me, message me on LinkedIn, or reach out via my website’s contact page.

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.