Regularly updating your resume is one of the best things you can do for your career.
If you're like most professionals (including us!), you only update your resume when you start a new job search. However, there are compelling reasons to regularly review this important career document to ensure it's ready to use at a moment's notice.
If your resume is updated on a regular basis, it takes very little time to add details about a promotion, a new skill, or an educational achievement when the time comes. Throw in the right keywords, and it's ready when you need — without the additional stress.
Here are some key benefits of maintaining an up-to-date resume as part of your overall career strategy.
You can immediately jump on an opportunity
This new opportunity could present itself as a networking connection that comes to you about a job in their company. It could also be an opportunity at your current company, such as a promotion to a senior role or the chance to manage a new project.
While your co-workers and fellow candidates are scrambling to fix up their resumes, you can submit yours in a timely manner, which shows that you're organized, qualified, and excited for this potential new role.
Looking for freelance opportunities? Keep your updated resume on your LinkedIn profile so recruiters or your current connections can view it; they may go to your profile to see if you're the right person to collaborate with on a specific freelance job.
Essentially, a current resume ensures you'll be able to jump on anything of interest right when it pops up, saving you precious time.
You'll have a useful tool for performance reviews
Think of your yearly performance reviews as a “job interview” for your company. You need to know and be able to articulate the key things you've done in the past year, along with your strengths and abilities, to highlight your value.
If you've been updating your resume with key accomplishments, skill developments, and educational achievements, you can accurately present these to your manager with confidence and discuss how you can use them for your organization going forward. You can also market yourself as a talented professional your company will want to keep around.
It provides a clear picture of your career path
When you look back over your past jobs, you can see where you've been — and plan where you want to go next in your career. By analyzing your career decisions and identifying patterns, you'll know what next steps to take. This could be applying to a new job, taking part in pinpointed training, or earning a broader degree or certification.
Either way, you'll have an overall picture of both your successes and failures. If you can look at those failures and learn from them, your next career move could lead you towards something you want rather than running away from your past career mistakes.
You'll be ready for any “unexpected situations”
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we're forced to make a career move when we weren't expecting it. Layoffs, furloughs, or company restructurings are some of those “blindsided” moments that eventually happen to everyone, causing professionals to panic.
Yet, if you've been regularly updating your resume, you can avoid some of the stress and panic since you won't have to search for past job information to create a new document.
Instead, you can begin networking with colleagues, sending over your resume at the same time you contact them. It's possible they may know of an open role and can pass your resume — and a recommendation — along right away.
It saves time (and your reputation) in the long-run
Think about the last time you suddenly needed your resume and it wasn't up to date. How long did it take you to go back and research the information you needed to add? Did you remember everything in detail?
A resume put together under a tight deadline might not present you in the best light because you don't have the time to dig up the specific details that showcase your experience and achievements. Updating your resume regularly lets you add things as they happen so you don't forget any important information, including all the necessary details that show how qualified you are. It also eliminates the time and effort of researching old documents to locate these details.
There are many opinions on just how often you should be updating a resume. A good rule of thumb is to do it whenever something significant happens in your job or career. You want to make sure to include anything that shows you are talented enough to take a step up in your current organization — or land a new role altogether.
Generally, 20 to 30 minutes is all you need to make these updates, and you can rest easy knowing you're prepared for whatever happens next in your career.
Looking to update your resume — but don't know where to start? Use our free resume review as a guide.