Looking for a job is difficult under the best of circumstances, and it gets considerably more so when you aren’t prepared. Optimistically, we stick with a gig for a while even if we don’t love it, neglecting to keep our resumes and other materials prepped if an opportunity comes up that we want to jump at.
If you want to (or must) move on, here are some tips for keeping your resume organised and up-to-date for when it’s go time.
Don’t Wait to Update
The subreddit r/LifeProTips is usually a font of helpful, no-duh info on life, but one post that rose to the top from u/hey_im_allison this week embodies the spirit of accepting a new job while preparing for the next. They write:
When you get a new job save the description and requirements from the application and use it to later add the job to your resume
When the day comes, you’ll be able to explain exactly what you were doing to your next employer. In fact, just add it to your resume ASAP, followed by the current date, a dash, and a blank space for the date you leave.
In response, u/chaoticnuetral added that it’s good to have your specific job description on hand because it makes it easier to negotiate your salary if future duties are added. They also quoted Quora on the definition of assigned duties:
The more concretely your job role is defined, the less out of that scope they can reasonably expect you to operate
If they are changing your job function substantially away from the original description, it’s a lateral transfer or a promotion, and it needs formal recognition
If you are working extra time, you need extra pay
If you are working at a higher pay grade, you should (minimally) get a title bump, and a promise of a salary review in the near future (set a concrete date no more than three months out! They need your work product on tax day!)
Being clear on what your job description is is good for when you have performance reviews, think you deserve a different title, or are looking for other employment and need a concrete list of your specific qualifications. But yes, about that resume…
Keep It Current
So, you added your new job to the resume, but you’re there a year, then two. Then BAM, all of a sudden layoffs come around. Does that old job description still reflect what you ended up doing the last 24 months? According to u/KungFuHamster, you should be checking in on your resume more regularly than a Tamagotchi:
Keep a work journal. Every major accomplishment should be noted. Best practice is to update it every day before you leave or you’ll forget.
- Reacting well in a crisis situation
- Finishing a project or a major milestone in a project
- Learning something new that makes you better at your job
- Adding new responsibilities, job titles, new people you oversee
- Lessons learnedImproved standards
But, they add, be sure not to violate any company security policies in place about protected information, on the off-chance you work at the Pentagon or something.
Make It Your Own
You are copy-pasting for ease of reference, but before sending that resume, it’s recommended that you try to adjust the language, at least by u/DuffinDagels, who claims to be a recruiter that sees a lot of resumes:
As a recruiter, I’d say be careful with making your resume read too much like a job description. Recruiters and employers want to see what you have achieved and accomplished in your job. Not just a list of responsibilities that can be pretty standard. Your resume should be personal and sell YOU.
Make things a bit more personal, but also remember that you often have a cover letter for that, too. Try to take what your job responsibilities are and put into words how you fulfilled them or accomplished measurable results in your time at a company. It’s the accomplishments, not the requirements that people notice. But that copy-paste serves as a good backbone to start with.
With all this copy-pasting, updating, journaling and adjustment, things can get wild pretty quickly. Which brings us to a different post from u/rlc327 two months ago. They recommended keeping a “separate master resume” that you can return to and adjust. It should include all of your previous work experience:
When sending out a resume for application, duplicate the file and remove anything that may be irrelevant to the position. You never know when some past experience might become relevant again, and you don’t want to forget about it.
And if you want to HAM, u/dannyisagirl says they keep a spreadsheet similar to the journaling recommended above, but mostly to help them through interviews:
To add to this, I actually keeps a spreadsheet with other information that might not be put on a resume. Things like the full dates that I worked there, actual titles I held, actual duties vs ‘resume duties’ (a list of keywords that could work while remaining honest/accurate), pay rate, managers/superiors/good co-workers names and full titles, physical addresses and phone numbers, the real reason why that is no longer my job.
Not nearly all of it is always necessary nor will a good chunk of it ever actually be seen by an employer, but it can help jog a number of memories as well as help you think of better spins on negative experiences. Especially if you’re a nervous babbler like me.
Now, go forth and get new jobs that you’ll be ready to leave immediately!