The Time is Now

by Brian Skory

When looking for a new position, your resume is quite often your very first opportunity to sell yourself to a recruiter or a prospective employer. But most people don't update their resume until the very moment that it's needed. For instance, you've lost your job and need to quickly find a new one. Or you are stably employed, but a job that you are very interested in has just presented itself. In either case, the situation needs to be acted on quickly.

The very moment that we need to update our resume is usually when we have the least amount of time to spend on it—when we don't have the time to reflect on the really important accomplishments we made at our current job, all of the new technologies that we touched, and the value that we have added to our company. Yet, these are the very things which will hopefully catch the attention of the person reading your resume, and care should be taken to craft them in such a way as to pique interest in your potential value as a prospective employee.

So, the time to update your resume is actually now—while you have the time to give this very important task the attention it deserves. Some tips for making this a painless and ongoing process are as follows:

Set a recurring calendar reminder for once weekly.
Put in the subject, "Have you done anything notable this week that would look good on your resume?" Often your answer will be "Nope," but you'll be amazed how many times something will come to mind that would have been long forgotten by the time you typically would go to update your resume. Examples:

  • Gave a presentation on Scala at a local developer's conference
  • Saved project $750K by modifying our cloud hosting strategy
  • Learned PHP (add it to your skills matrix)

Create a mail folder called "Resume." Jot down anything notable from that week and email it to yourself. Every quarter, take 20 minutes to update your resume to keep it current. Then even if you wait until the last minute to update your resume, now you will at least have plenty of good content to choose from.

What is notable and should be on your resume is fairly intuitive, but next time we'll talk specifically about what a prospective employer will be looking for.
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