How do you revamp your dusty old resume to make it a targeted piece of advertising that will win interviews? Starting with your most recent job, consulting assignment, temp assignment, or internship, write down every one of your major and minor accomplishments and how you went about achieving them. Do not skip anything. Write as much as you can now because you can always edit it later.
Your greatest focus should be on the things that you’ve done most recently because you’re going to need to be prepared to talk about things you did most recently than things that you did further in the past.
Once you have that mega-list of all your accomplishments, whenever you construct a resume for submission to an employer, look at what the employer is looking for and then plug in all applicable examples and details from your list.
Even when you’re not looking for a job, it’s best to continue to maintain the practice of keeping your resume in top form, so that you don’t have to do a lot of updates at once, and so you can keep a record of what you’ve accomplished is fresh. Update your resume every three to four months, so you’re not always only acting in a time of crisis. Update and revise it between job searches, or while you’re not necessarily looking for something.
One of the benefits of this practice is that you’ll be able to use your resume at times when your manager is reviewing your performance. Often, when they sit down and talk with you at review time, they’ll ask you, “Tell me about some of the accomplishments that you’ve had between now and our last review.” With an updated resume, it’s all right there for you. You don’t’ have to pull it off the top of your head.
An up-to-date resume also allows you to sit down and say, “How does this fit with my goals and my career direction?” If what you see on your resume does not fit in with your goals and aspirations, you can push for a change in your job responsibilities or when you’re changing jobs. Always ask: how is this work going to serve you? What do you need to fix in the next job or organization?
A lot of people are work-resistant, so they say, “This sounds like a lot of work to do.” But being a success rarely happens by accident. Years ago, Bill Walsh took over the San Francisco 49er’s as head coach at a time when they were a horrible team. Nevertheless, he implemented a system that was called, “the West Coast offense.” One of the principles of this is to practice every week the first 20 plays of the game to be run on offense and to execute them extremely well.
Just like Bill Walsh’s system, repetition breeds perfection. By doing something time and again, you’ll be able to execute your interviews so much more fluidly, avoiding dumb mistakes and getting close to your target every time. So, yes, it does involve a certain amount of work, but success only comes from focus, hard work, and dedication.
There’s a wonderful book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The 7th habit is what he calls, “sharpening the saw,” which is exactly what we’re talking about here with this resume maintenance program. This is an ongoing, keeping-yourself-above-the-curve kind of maintenance. Keeping your resume up to date every three to four months—that’s sharpening your saw so that when you go out there, you’re prepared in every way. You don’t have to spend a lot of time at that point trying to rush through and get everything done.
Because the fact is that one day there could be a knock on your door when you least expect it, or someone could call you or send you an email saying, “Hi. We’ve heard about you and we’d like to talk with you about an opportunity we have in our organization. Give us a call and let’s set up an appointment to get
together.” And wouldn’t it be good to be prepared for that, instead of reacting with an, “Oh my God, oh my God! I’ve got to write a resume!” Well-prepared people are usually very lucky.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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