Whether you're currently employed, facing a layoff or looking for a job, keeping your résumé up-to-date is always important. In today's economy, however, it's even more vital to have a current copy of your résumé on hand. After all, you never know when an amazing job opportunity -- or pink slip -- might fall into your hands.
"You have to be ready to submit your résumé on short notice," says Dustin DeVries, senior director of LEAD DAWG, a job search consulting firm. "Candidates who have taken time to update their résumé may be passed over for another candidate of similar caliber that is ready to go now. You just never know when that opportunity may land in your lap and you have to be ready to act."
Updating one's résumé today, however, may not be as easy as it once was. As job losses and layoffs continue to swell, people have to do more with less to enhance their résumés. Job seekers are unsure how to deal with lack of employment, gaps between work, title demotions, less duties and shortened job spans when updating their résumés.
Here are some ways to beef up your résumé if it is lacking in any of the following areas:
You have a gap between jobs
Depending on the length of the gap, Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers, says you should fill in the gap with something you've been doing in your time off. This will show employers you've taken initiative during this period rather than waiting for something to fall into your lap.
"Consider getting actively involved in volunteer projects and/or consulting opportunities, even if you do the work for free," Salpeter says. "This will allow you to use your skills in a way that is worth describing on your résumé."
You've been laid off
No employer will be surprised see an applicant who's been laid off. Be honest about your departure, DeVries says. "In this economy, it's going to happen. Don't misrepresent that you're still employed by dating your last position as 'to present' if you're not currently with that company. [It's a] red flag if a recruiter sees [you] as currently employed when in fact you've been laid off."
You were hired recently but laid off right away due to the economy
Don't leave any employment off your résumé, no matter how short a period you may have worked there. Just don't explain the details on your résumé.
"In today's economy, most people will give you the benefit of the doubt that your departure was not a result of your performance," Salpeter says. "Be prepared to discuss it if it comes up in a conversation or interview."
You were demoted or had a title change
Titles are just that -- a title. It says nothing about your specific accomplishments and your track record of meeting or exceeding metrics for your organization, DeVries says.
"State your title, but focus [on] your achievements for the organization. Any good recruiter or potential employer is going to be most interested in your track record of meeting objectives no matter what your role," DeVries says. "A 'director' of marketing for one company may require something completely different from a 'director' role at another company. Focus on your measurable accomplishments."
You went from a senior-level position to a "filler" position at lower level
In this situation, it's critical to include an objective that outlines what type of position you're looking for at the company where you're applying, DeVries says.
"If you have to take a 'filler' position between professional positions, you need to include the role but place your focus on the activities you have maintained during that time to remain current in your professional field," he says. Volunteering, professional networking and taking classes are all things that will help keep you current.
You're a recent college graduate with little experience
Most people have skills that they don't realize are important résumé builders, Salpeter says. DeVries agrees, saying that experience occurs any time you're gaining insight and perspective in your chosen field. Classes, volunteer experience, internships, leadership activities and professional networking groups are all examples of experience you can incorporate in your résumé.
Now that you know how to correct any potentially sketchy parts of your résumé, here are five tips for keeping it up-to-date.
1. Keep up with trends
"Keep up-to-date with current trends for résumés and online profiles. Be sure that you are highlighting how you stand out and emphasizing what makes you special," Salpeter says.
2. Keep a brag book
DeVries suggests keeping a log of your performance reviews, coaching reports from managers, sales reports, goal assessments and the like to use as content for your résumé.
"You're going to be measured against someone else in most any position you may hold," he says. "Update this list each time you receive an e-mail from your manager or a report from your company. Include achievements applicable to the position to which you're submitting your résumé."
Additionally, Salpeter suggests keeping a file of any nice things that supervisors, clients and colleagues say about you, and asking for recommendations on social networking sites like LinkedIn.
3. List more than job duties
"Listing job duties on your résumé is OK, but include the metrics you were held accountable for and your performance to those goals," DeVries says. "Many people just list the duty but don't include the scale of their accountability and how they performed."
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4. Always ask for feedback
Never stop asking for feedback or critique from colleagues, friends and experts. "You never know what someone may see in your résumé that needs further enhancement or may just need to be eliminated," DeVries says.
5. Keep lists
In order to keep your résumé up-to-date, you need to keep a running list of your accomplishments and things you've done in the workplace, and add to it regularly, Salpeter says. Keep track of your digital profile, too, and recognize that your digital footprint is an important part of your professional presentation and job search.
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