Don’t Leave Your Resume To Chance!

To a lot of people, updating a resume is an annoying task. A necessary evil to get a new job. Part of the problem is resumes are often thought of in a reactive manner: Job is being eliminated or got called about a new opportunity, I better update my resume.

Think about your resume proactively. It’s the end result. Your highlight reel. How do you get there?

Your resume should be an extension of something you are already doing: documenting accomplishments and results. This could be a formal professional development document/process provided by your employer or something as simple as an excel document you created. Either way, if you’re tracking your accomplishments and specific results, the data already exists and updating your resume when the time comes is much easier.

Not tracking your work as you go? You’re not alone. Why put in all that hard work and effort only to forget about it years down the road? Start documenting your work and thank me later.

Click Here for Easy To Use Template –> accomplishment-tracker

Now what? Start documenting, right? Not so fast! Let’s back it up a step further. I’ve written before about picturing your resume 3 to 5 years out when considering a new opportunity: Should I Accept?  It’s a great way to compare and contrast an opportunity to a current situation: Will staying or accepting this new job better qualify me for the job(s) I want in the future?

I propose applying this concept to different points in your career. Not looking for a new job anytime soon? Maybe just started one? Great. How do you want your resume to read in 3 to 5 years? What position would you like to be in next? Landing a new job is about much more than a piece of paper. I’m not implying that a resume is the end all be all. However, if you think about your resume proactively, it actually gets you to think about your career in a specific and intentional manner.

So how do you do this? Look to the future and work backwards. Maybe you’d like to be a Director in 5 years. Research what it takes to get that job. What can you be doing now to become more qualified for that type of position? Think about what can separate you from your competition. Can you potentially land that job as your next move? Will you need another position in between? Be honest with this assessment and come up with a game plan.

Example: For someone in Big 4 public accounting it’s easy to assume if you just do well, you’ll end up with good jobs. And, you probably will.  But will it be the jobs you want? Let’s say you want to be a corporate controller of a publicly traded company. You need to get experience working on publicly traded clients. Not private companies.

Tip: Go to www.indeed.com and type in ‘Director of Finance’, ‘Director of Business Intelligence” or “XYZ job” in the job title field. What are the most common ‘requirements’? What are some of the ‘nice to haves’?

Ask these 5 questions to make sure you’re building the resume, and career, YOU want:

  1. What do you want to be doing in 5 years? Possibly even 10 years if you are that certain about your career path.
  2. What experiences and accomplishments do those positions require? (Remember, search job boards and actually find out what these jobs require. You can note “years of experience” requirements but don’t let those hold you back. Those requirements aren’t always firm. Heck, I’d be willing to bet they’re made up half the time)
  3. What can I do in my current role to get more qualified for that position? Think improvements, accomplishments and specific results. “Responsibilities” become less important the further you get. Having experience with necessary “responsibilities” might get you an interview but that’s about it. Do those well but focus on improvements, accomplishments and specific results.
  4. Any certifications or advanced degree that could be required? Or, a “nice to have” that could separate you from the competition? Certifications are often > advanced degrees but it depends on your line of work. Here are my thoughts on this topic: Is Getting an MBA Overrated?
  5. Networked much lately? One of the most common mistakes I see professionals make is not networking consistently. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I wish I would have networked and kept in touch with contacts”. I usually hear it after an unexpected job loss. I’m not talking about networking events heavily attended by sales people. I’m talking about keeping in touch with mentors, old bosses, colleagues from previous employers, perhaps some industry conferences and volunteer work. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Trust me. Reach out to someone this week and schedule a lunch or coffee to catch up and reconnect. (Let me know if you do! Coffee on me if you reach out to someone and schedule a coffee, lunch or beer to catch up with an old colleague or mentor!)

There you have it. What do you want to be doing in 5 years? Work backwards and figure out what you need to do to get there. And, remember, a resume can be so much more than a boring piece of paper. It should be your highlight reel. Treat it as such and let that motivate you. Be proactive and intentional about your resume and, ultimately, your career.

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