In many cases, just a single year or two at a new position will infuse your resume with a plethora of new content that if plugged in too hastily, will create a patchwork coat effect: It may serve a practical purpose at a very base level but it will not turn heads, evoke a visceral reaction and inspire the meaningful, targeted interview call that, as a job hunter, you seek.
Nourished Career Bodies Require Resume Refitting
Not only is a resume update comprised of new resume content to fit the evolving shape of your career body, but older, faded, stretched career fabric needs tightened, trimmed and emboldened to align with the new information.
As an example, over the seven years we’ve collaborated, Jennifer has hired me for three iterations of her resume. When she originally approached me in 2002, Jennifer’s career focus was Operations. The majority of her professional experience to that point had been spent contributing to operational and financial software machinations inside a major telecommunications company.
Within just a few years, Jennifer returned for an update, and her career fabric had expanded to include adjunct experience in a new industry (not-for-profit) versus the major, Fortune 500, publicly held company of her past. As well, she had been instrumental in leading a change management initiative and start-up effort that transformed the organization’s direction and goals.
Most recently, Jennifer circled back to me for another ‘simple update’ after having driven culture change at an even larger not-for-profit entity with multi locations. Moreover, Jennifer sought to reposition herself in a for-profit organization, having run her career course in the not-for-profit sector.
She needed my help in determining how to reposition her resume to showcase her last several years’ not-for-profit experience in a light that mapped to private sector; as such, the Profile section as well as the Performance Overview (chronology) section, were critical areas in which to spotlight a commingling of her last seven-years’ experience.
Not only had her career fabric expanded, but her audience was shifting, requiring new folds of career fabric be patterned and stitched together to present a whole new career suit that would appeal to today’s trends and to her current target industry.
In both update collaborations, resume updating required significant rewriting and strategy (versus a quick, easy update process).
In both collaborations, just a few driving questions allowed me to talk her down from the ‘I need a quick, simple update’ vantage point and redirect her vision that the resume update was much more involved.
It required careful introspection as to how her recent several-years’ experience/achievements/leadership learnings mapped to her goals. As well, it required deeper assessment and specificity in communicating her go-forward goals.
Career Stagnation Is Not an Option
What I’ve also found, in working with Jennifer and many other job hunters over the last 12 years is that virtually no one I’ve ever written for – no matter their career level, from entry to senior-level – has wanted to remain stagnant in their job or career. Even when they perceived their job move as lateral, they always wanted something different — or more — in regard to day-to-day tasks and challenges.
How Do You Determine Your Resume Update Needs?
Trying to determine whether a strategic approach to revamping–vs. ‘simply updating’–your resume is in needed? Ask yourself some or all of the following questions:
- What have you been doing the last year, two years, etc. at your current/new job (i.e., what have been your department’s, division’s, company’s, YOUR overarching goals/results)?
- How is this different from what you were doing last time you updated, or originally wrote, your resume?
- What are you most proud of doing in the past year, etc.? Why does this matter to your target audience?
- How would you describe your ideal ‘next position?’ Type of role? Title? Company? Industry?
- If you look at the Headline/Profile/Summary of your ‘current’ resume, would you feel it represents your go-forward (target) goals of types of position you are seeking? Why or why not?
- Think specifically vs. impulsively what your resume’s current state of being is (whether it’s an outdated career cloak befitting viewing by a past career generation or whether it is a modern-audience-attracting resume), then note the differences in what you would like your resume to attract as your next great opportunity (your go-forward goals) versus what your were vying to attract last time you updated your resume.
- As well, consider the evolving resume design strategies and the value to revisiting / amending certain aspects of the layout to reinvigorate and perhaps boost the competitiveness of your career positioning tool (especially important in this still very tough market).
All of the above questions and talk points are critical to determining whether you truly require a ‘simple resume update.’ High-performing resumes require ongoing maintenance, overhaul and strategic attention.
In most cases, career resume fabric, like that in a well-worn suit, becomes stretched, faded and dated in time. A nip and tuck of fabric may impulsively feel like the easy choice to maintain a career resume suited for the job; however, in many cases, your career fabric needs reshaped and replaced to best enhance your nimble and more muscular career form.
I want to credit The Recruiting Animal for inspiring this post with his unique take on how a Resume Writer Is like a Tailor over at RecruitingBloggers.com, in a blog post, “The Resume Writer.”