Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Your Career Can Pivot On Your Resume

Ever get an enticing call from an executive recruiter and the first thing they want is a resume ASAP? What happens if you don’t have enough time to update it? Should you send an old one that might be missing important … and critical information?

Not if you want it to go any further.

No matter how high up the ladder you are, your resume always precedes you. It’s the document used to initially assess your worth and value in the marketplace. It can be your springboard to opportunities and, with the right wording, catapult you onto the “Top Contenders” list.

On the flip side, if your resume is outdated and out of synch with the marketplace, it can decelerate career progress. You might just be the perfect candidate, but if your resume doesn’t reflect that, the reader may turn the page.

It’s hard to overestimate the clout of that one piece of paper.

But if you’re not actively job campaigning, what’s the need for having one at the ready? And, how do you find the time to keep this important document fresh while dealing with the day-to-day demands most executives face?

It all depends on how you view your resume’s purpose and value.

If you see a resume as solely a job finding tool, you’ll be tempted to let it hibernate unattended until the next opportunity comes knocking. Then, you’ll rush to update it and run the risk of not capturing key accomplishments in the best light.

But if you see your resume as a career development tool – a powerful self-directed instrument that helps you identify and assess your progress - you’ll be inclined to update it on an ongoing basis and look at it with a critical eye. You’ll add accomplishments as they occur, new responsibilities as you obtain them and apply the metrics that verify your achievements.

Plus, maintaining a current resume forces you to take a hard look at your career trajectory. Does it indicate improvement or advancement over the last few quarters? The last year? The last several years? If not, why not?

Scheduling a few minutes each quarter to review and update your resume is a valuable use of time. It ensures you record successes while reminding you of activities undone and goals yet to be reached. Ultimately, it is one of the most accurate gauges of whether your career is going in the right direction and provides clues as to what next steps need to be taken.

Besides, think how well prepared you’ll be when that tempting phone call finally does arrive.

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