I’ve always made a point to keep my jobs for at least two years. This is something that I do for two reasons. First, I’ve found that two years is about enough time for me to grow my skillset to the point where I can move on to something new. Second, two years is long enough to build the strong professional relationships I’ve come to rely on throughout my career.
While keeping a job for a couple years can be good for your career, it can also things a little more difficult when the time comes to refresh your resume. In a couple years’ time, our career goals can shift very dramatically as we learn more about ourselves and what we really want to be. If you haven’t updated your resume since you got your last job, you will probably find that your old resume doesn’t do a very good job of reflecting your newfound passions or desired career path.
Below is the process that I use when it’s time for me to update my resume. I hope that it helps you make the process as painless for you as possible.
Research the job that you want
By now, it’s probably been pounded into your head that the resumes we write should be tailored to the positions that we are applying for. As simple as it sounds, this is one of the things that’s always easier said than done.
To get started, head over to Monster or Indeed (or whatever your favorite job search site happens to be), and look at the job descriptions for as many relevant jobs as you can find. Write down the desired skills, abilities, and achievements for each job, and then compare them.
Do you see a lot of overlap? Are there certain skills and abilities that every employer desires? If so, that is an area that employers feel are very important in your desired line of work. These are things that you will want to mention on your resume. Make a list of the top 5 areas that seem to be important. This will be the foundation of your resume.
Emphasize your achievements
Now that you have discovered five key areas that you need to emphasize on your resume, think about what you have accomplished since you last updated your resume. Do any of your accomplishments align with the skills and experiences that employers mentioned in their job descriptions? If so, write them down. These are things that you will want to make sure and list on your resume.
Sometimes, it can be hard to remember everything that we’ve accomplished over the course of a few years. Our focus is so often on the here and the now, that it’s easy to forget big projects we worked on a couple years ago.
Take some time to think back. Try to start at the beginning. Read through your old emails if you have to (they can be a great way to trigger memories about projects you’d long forgotten).
Demonstrate your growth
Fair or not, nobody wants to hire someone who has become stagnant in their career. Even if you are essentially doing the same job now as you were five years ago, it’s important to think about some ways that you could demonstrate how you’ve continued to learn and improve.
To give you an example, I spent a lot of my career helping people get traffic to their websites. On the surface, my job didn’t change that much for quite a few years. I was still essentially doing the same thing. With that said, I’ve learned a lot in those years, and over time I’ve become better at what I do. So how should I demonstrate that?
For my resume, I would use traffic numbers and my client list to show that I’ve continued to get better and more respected within the industry. Depending on your job, it might not be quite as easy to quantify your experience. Has the budget that you’re responsible for increased? Do you manage more people than you used to? Have you directly contributed to the success of large projects? Any of these things will demonstrate growth, even if the core function of what you do hasn’t changed much since the last time you updated your resume.
Putting it all together
At this point, you’ve done a lot of work, and you should have a very good idea of what you should put on your resume.
Now that you know what you want, what employers are looking for, what you’ve accomplished, and how you’ve grown, you should be able to update your resume without too much headache.