How Often Should I Update My Resume?
Accomplishing the mission of creating a military to civilian resume comes with a great feeling. Now, the real work can begin – maintenance. Your resume is a living, breathing document, remember? This is why the team at Empire Resume continues to remind veterans that the resume is one of the documents that will follow them throughout their entire career, no matter the industry or the position. When you’re a veteran functioning as a professional in the civilian world, updating your resume is an ongoing project that continuously requires you to take action.
The Importance of an Updated Resume
Every performance evaluation you received in the military was an expression of your competencies, skills, and accomplishments. Your performance evaluation was written by your supervisor. Basically, you had no say when it came down to the end result of the evaluation.
In the civilian world, you have total control of your resume. You have complete say in the outcome of your resume, even if you don’t write it yourself. You also carry the responsibility of keeping the resume up to date with your most recent accomplishments. The reason for keeping your resume updated can be summed up in one word – opportunity.
An Updated Resume Opens the Door for Opportunity
Opportunities come in several forms in the civilian world. Opportunities occur while you’re meeting someone for coffee, during a round of golf, and even while watching football. Opportunities are created while networking whether face-to-face or while on LinkedIn.
As a professional establishing a career, an updated resume is your chance to be ready for those opportunities when they present themselves. You never know who you’ll be talking with that can potentially get you a job.
You can be at the gym running on the treadmill next to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Bottom line is, you need to be ready when the person you’re having a conversation with says, “Send over your resume and we’ll go from there.”
What happens next is up to you. You can be ready for the opportunity by having your resume updated on a regular basis, or you can spend valuable time thinking about what positions you held five years ago, hoping that you can remember them so they can be added to your resume.
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Bobby Unser
Why an Updated Resume is Necessary for Veterans
For a veteran in the civilian world, you must recognize that having an updated resume is crucial for your professional career. Because civilian life differs from life in the military, especially when it comes to career and employment, an updated resume is necessary for veterans for the following reasons:
- There’s no such thing as job security.
Unfortunately, job security is nonexistent in civilian life. A company can offer you a job today, downsize in two years, and let you know that after some consideration that they are letting you go due to budget cuts. Or, you can lose a job for no reason at all. If you live in what’s described as an employment at-will state, losing a job for no reason or explanation at all is common.
In employment at-will states, an employee’s position can end any time, without an explanation or warning. Additionally, the employee has the right to end his or her employment for any reason, or no reason. Exceptions to this would be some sort of contract such as an employment contract or personnel handbook.
For more information on at-will employment, review the article on At-Will Employment at the Workplace Fairness website.
- Change is inevitable.
Change is a constant in society. And, as a career professional, change is the result of growth. We live in a time where changing jobs is the growing norm. Decades ago, people would gain employment in their chosen career field and work at the same company for 20 years plus, up to retirement.
Even without the presence of growth, change occurs. Believe it or not, throughout the course of your professional life, you will change jobs several times.
According to the August 2019 News Release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs an average of 12 times during his or her career.
Other statistics within the news release revealed that employees ages 18 to 24 hold an average of 5 jobs, while employees hold 4 jobs from ages 25 to 34. Employees hold only 2 jobs from ages 35 to 44 and 1 from the age of 45 to 52.
Many factors contribute to the change in jobs. Some reasons why people change jobs include:
- An increase in pay
- Work-life balance (More days off and time to spend with family)
- Benefits (The ability to work remotely, for example)
- Embarking on a different career path
- Reduced stress
- Better work environment and atmosphere
- Obtaining work that is in alignment with personal values
Now that you know that job security does not exist, that change is inevitable, and are aware of some reasons why people change jobs, we hope you understand how important it is to update your resume. Below, we will show you how to update your resume.
How to Update Your Resume
When was the last time you looked at your resume? Was it when you created the resume yourself or used the expertise of a certified professional resume writer?
If so, you’re not alone. Plenty of people are faced with updating their resume after several months or even years after obtaining employment.
In the civilian world, it’s easy for life to consume you. As a result, some people neglect to highlight the additional accomplishments and skills they’ve gained along the way. Here are some best practices for updating your resume:
Your Contact Information
If you’ve changed addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and even your LinkedIn URL, be sure to update this section to the most recent information you have to date.
Your contact information is important because anyone looking to work with you or hire you will use this information to get in touch.
The resume summary is also known as the summary of qualifications, resume profile or summary statement. If your resume contains a summary, you should update it to provide an overview of who you are now and the value you can bring to an organization, today.
An outdated summary or a summary that shows who you were yesterday can send your opportunity to the next candidate.
Also, if your resume contains an objective, the objective should be replaced with the summary. To discover how to write a great summary, review our article on this topic at Empire Resume for more information.
Skills or Core Competencies
Each time you work in a position for a certain amount of time, you naturally pick up a new skill. Any new skill or core competency should be added to your resume, as soon as possible.
Did your company provide a training session on Microsoft SharePoint? If so, add project or database management to your resume.
Are you skilled in Microsoft SharePoint? Add Microsoft SharePoint to your list of technical proficiencies. If you learned how to operate Adobe Pro on the job, list this under your technical proficiencies as well. Any new software you used is appropriate to list here.
List your most recent job title under your professional experience. Don’t forget to add a brief paragraph describing your job duties and no more than three bullet points for your measurable accomplishments.
Additional Resume Add-Ons
If you didn’t have the below perks at the time you initially created your resume, you can include them on your updated resume. These perks are:
- College degrees
- Certificates such as a business certificate or paralegal certificate
- Certifications such as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
Maintain Consistency and Balance while Updating the Resume
Another helpful tip to maintain consistency with your resume. If your job descriptions have bullet points for your job roles and accomplishments under one job, be sure that the format is consistent for the other jobs listed.
Your updated resume should be easy on the eyes for the person reading it. Make sure to leave plenty of white space to keep from overcrowding the resume.
Handling Employment Gaps
Your updated resume should only include professional experience spanning no more than 15 years. If you have any gaps in employment, consider the following into your resume updating process:
- Professional development (courses, certifications, workshops/seminars, etc.)
- Switching to a functional resume
- Don’t include the months (using the years alone will suffice)
While updating your resume, make sure you remain truthful and don’t embellish on your skills, accomplishments, and gaps in employment. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to updating your resume.
Even if you don’t update your resume yourself, get help from a trusted friend or reputable resource like Empire Resume. The takeaway here is to make sure you keep track of the accomplishments you made while at every stage of your professional career. You can do this by keeping a career journal, documenting them on a Word document on your computer or a method that is easier for you.
Don’t wait for your employer to give you an employee of the year award before you decide to keep your resume updated because this is your career. Always remember that you are making an impact and a contribution each day, even if your contributions are not recognized by your employer. Take the time to honor yourself and update your resume so you’re prepared for the many opportunities heading your way.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.