Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to assist a young sole-support woman obtain employment. That meant together, we overhauled a disastrous resume and wrote cover letters. Turns out those revised documents got the young woman interviews and she sold herself well enough in one to land a job.
Fast-forward to yesterday when out-of-the-blue I received a phone call from her, telling me she’s now out of work and has this ideal job she wants to apply for. She was wondering if she could drop by and sit down again with me and write a resume. Apparently she doesn’t feel confident enough to do this on her own, and then she dropped a bombshell on me and asked if I had a copy of her resume.
How disappointing that news was to me. Why wouldn’t she have a copy of it herself? She told me that because she had a job, she hadn’t bothered to update the resume all this time; and she said it in a tone that implied it was both obvious and normal to have not even looked at or thought about updating a resume for those two years. But then I told myself that’s what I’d do, and not to transfer my own standards to her.
If you are working, I strongly recommend that you pull up your resume now, while you are employed, and start adding in things like your present job, any internal training you’ve taken or education you may have updated. If you ever find yourself either out of a job or looking for a promotion you’ll have a huge head start in this endeavour.
The one luxury you have is that you don’t have to word everything perfectly and stress over that, for now just dump your updates on the resume approximately in the right areas. You can work on the wording later. Way too many people don’t do this exercise, and then when they are out of the company, they have to struggle to not only remember courses and training, but they have to struggle with dates and the exact name of the courses or certificates earned.
I know that personally, it is always easier to sit down and essentially re-word and strengthen a resume than it is to work on blank space. You see, if you’re one of those people who says, “I don’t know how to say it but…”, that’s an area where you can rely on a trained professional to help you out with vocabulary and proper wording. But no one can help you remember a course or education they didn’t take.
The second thing you can do now, is get hold of your present job description. If in paper form, put it with your resume. If electronic, send it from your work email to your home email, or save it on a personal USB, home computer etc. You should be able to get this from HR, where they post internal jobs in your company, or perhaps via email if your position is posted from time-to-time when the employer is hiring additional staff or replacing those who’ve moved on.
Another thing you can look into is ensuring you have a copy of your work. Check with your organization to be sure whatever you’ve created can be copied and kept for your personal use or record-keeping and isn’t the sole property of the company. A presentation, a report you authored; would it possible to get your hands on something you did alone which would showcase your ability without passing on company information or internal data? Checking first is a smart thing to do so you don’t land in any trouble and get disciplined or fired.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve made PowerPoint and Prezi presentations on generic topics like preparing for interviews and writing resumes. I’ve also made presentations on how our specific organization provides financial assistance to qualifying residents of the Municipality. Only those generic ones on building a resume and preparing for interviews would be appropriate to showcase my work.
It’s also wise to add to or start a personal folder where you keep positive feedback from clients and customers, a note of praise from your boss, your yearly review, all your certificates – even something like an award for your excellent attendance. These are samples of all the little bits and pieces that you might want at some point down the road and can’t tell exactly when.
I used to save cards from clients expressing thanks on a bulletin board. Not only did they motivate me from time-to-time seeing them there, but they also reinforced to clients who might be in my office proper etiquette for expressing thanks, and validated my role and effectiveness if they had their doubts upon a first meeting. Then I’d eventually toss these all out in December and start again.
I decided however last year to take those cards of appreciation and put them in a plastic bin in my locked drawer. I might want them one day, and I know where they are if I need some validation.
Please update your resume now while you are employed. Imagine your stress if you walk down the hall at work and see your dream job posted internally and you only have a single day to apply for it. Having your resume pretty much up-to-date could be the difference in meeting that deadline with a strong resume or something you throw together poorly.