Resume-Ready? Here’s How.

A resume work in progress. We should all do a better job staying up to date.

Is your resume up-to-date? I mean, if the perfect job presented itself today, would you be able to respond with a document that convincingly tells who you are, what you’ve accomplished and why people should be impressed?

And if not, how long would it take you to create one?

I’ve been working with professionals in career transition for nearly a decade, and it’s rare to find a client who’s fully prepared for the job search. Resumes are a pain. We don’t like to talk about ourselves. And the pressure to “get it right” leads to inaction.

Heck, the most recent version of my resume was last updated in 2015, and I do this for a living! I’m working on that now.

So, understanding that job transitions can happen at any time – and that resumes can take weeks to finesse – let’s resolve to prepare ourselves for the unexpected. Spend a few minutes this weekend looking for the latest version of your resume and do a reality check on its value.

Think, first and foremost, about whether it shows the true value you bring to an organization. Done correctly, your resume will tell employers and recruiters not only what you’ve done, but also how you did it, and what it meant to the organization. Context matters. Were you restructuring due to the economic collapse? Were you part of a project team that transformed a business model or product line? Think about how you’d describe your role in an interview, and see if you can convey some of that enthusiasm in your resume.

Some other thoughts, to get things rolling:

  • Tell your “story.” Your summary section should convey your overall value. Identify your key differentiators and back them up with details. This is particularly effective if you’ve changed careers or moved around a lot. Give people a sense of your overall success, setting the stage for the job descriptions below.
  • Update – and streamline – your contact info. Cellphones, email addresses and LinkedIn URLs are in. Landlines, street addresses and labels like “email,” “phone” and “LinkedIn” are out. (And no one needs a telephone icon next to your phone number.)
  • Give yourself a headline. “Summary,” “Professional Summary” and “Overview” are a waste of space. Replace them with a headline that describes what you do. This might be a specific job title (“General Counsel”) or broader label (“Corporate Legal Executive”). You might be able to expand that with some information about your specialties or focus.
  • “Complete” your bullets. Most resumes do a decent job with the facts and figures, but don’t explain the importance of what was done. Dig into the how’s and why’s of what you did. Consider the internal and external factors that impacted your business and your work. Explain how the work impacted the business.
  • Recast your past. Think about how your earlier roles relate to what you’re doing today, creating a new description to bridge the gap. Don’t distort the facts, but think about the skills you used or the learnings you had that are relevant to today’s world.

How often do you update your resume? How about your LinkedIn profile? What advice do you have for executives thinking about their next transition?