You may have already heard the advice to keep your resume updated even if you’re not looking for work. It helps to be prepared when the time comes, and also, it’s a good idea to take inventory of your accomplishments and new responsibilities, especially before your performance review. You want to expertly articulate your recent triumphs as well as past achievements that are still reaping benefits for the company.
In addition to serving as a retrospective in preparation for your professional evaluation, use what you find as a way to brand yourself for your next position—whatever it might be. Even if you’re not actively seeking work, set aside time each year to explore what you might want to do in the future. If it’s vastly different than what you do now, start a version of your resume that targets that new opportunity. Remember that this will just be a sketch to help you get started. The bulk of the work will come when it’s time to apply, but there are a few steps you can take now so you’ll be a few steps ahead later.
Here’s how to get started:
Read job descriptions
Even though these jobs are unlikely to be available two or more years from now, the purpose of looking now is to gather information. What jobs look interesting to you? What are the core competencies required and of those, which do you already possess? Which of your accomplishments will present you as a rock-star candidate for these types of positions?
Review sample resumes
What do resumes for these types of positions look like? What do you need to add to yours in order to be a competitive candidate? If there are any skills you lack or need to brush up on, how might you gain the skills?
Update your document
Start a “working document” that outlines the changes necessary. Remember that before you actually send this new resume out for a job, give it another read with the actual job description next to it. Use the keywords and lingo from the description and fill in any blanks if you meet more qualifications than your resume shows.
Show your resume
Know people in the field? Ask them to review your resume. The beauty is that you’re not actually looking for a job right now, which takes a lot of the pressure off both parties. You won’t have nervous expectations while wondering whether they actually gave your resume to the hiring manager and what that person really thought. They don’t have the discomfort of passing your application along and not knowing what to say to you if the hiring manager doesn’t give it a second glance. You are asking strictly for opinions. Keep in mind that your friends in the field may actually be more candid with you since it’s a work in progress, so use this to your advantage. A good question to ask them is, “After reading my resume, what type of job would you think I’m going after?” If they are way off, it may indicate that you need to be more explicit on your resume or give it more focus. Ask your friends if they were a hiring manager for the position, would they hire you—why or why not?
Reworking your resume can be a job in itself, but by getting started during a time of less urgency, you’ll set a good foundation for times when you’ll need to move quickly. Give it a try!
—Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach