If you believe that opportunities don’t just appear out of the blue and that the party you are attending tonight is probably the most unlikely place to find a job, you are hugely mistaken. Opportunities are like seasons; just as easily they come, they go. The only difference between the two is that opportunities occur more frequently than the weather changes. But if you fail to notice them for any reason – or even worse you are not quick enough to take an opportunity, then in the end you are the one who is missing out.
This is the principle of planned happenstance. John Krumboltz’s career theory is something I have touched on in the past, and it explains how unplanned events or just plain ‘chance’ can have a tremendous impact on your career prospects not only in terms of increasing your professional network but also your chances of landing a job. Krumbolt agues that luck is no accident and stresses the importance of developing the ability to identify opportunities while constantly being curious, flexible and persistent.
Just as you would expect, planned happenstance is strongly associated with networking. So even if you do not know anyone at that party, you are likely to meet two or three people who would want to get to know you better and be interested in listening to you and what you have to offer. That is unless, of course, you are being rude and anti-social; if that is the case what is the point of even attending the party, right?
At this point, you may say, all of this is great, but how is this relevant to regularly updating my resume?
See Also: How to Write a Killer Resume
Well, when you are on the job-hunt, unplanned events will require that you are well-prepared to ‘perform on the spot’ e.g. to talk about yourself, to sell your skills through your ‘sales pitch’ etc. Apart from that, though, you also need to have your resume ready – or at least a professional card, so that you can give out your contact details right away. While you may think the world will not end just because you did not bring your resume with you, this can actually take you several steps back in your job search.
So, imagine this. You meet an employer at a conference and after a couple of minutes of chatting, he seems to be so interested in your work that he asks you for a resume. When you tell him you do not have one at the moment he says that is okay, drop me an email. If you are consistent, and you have your updated resume ready, you can send an email on the same day, but if not…well, you are at risk of losing a big opportunity. By the time you update your resume, a week has passed, and the employer has already contacted another two possible candidates that seem to be ‘a good fit’.
Why is this a big deal? Well, it’s simple if you want to put yourself in situations where things are more likely to happen, you need to know which actions you should take that will help you make the most of opportunities that come your way.
Here are some reasons you should continually update your resume even if you are already employed and not currently looking for a job:
#1 Keep it Interesting
Staying relevant is vital to resume success. Ensuring that your resume effectively corresponds to current resume writing trends e.g. provides links to websites – your online work, and makes effective use of keywords, means that employers are more likely to consider your application. Since most of your chances of getting the job depend on this document, you have to make it as attention-grabbing as possible while incorporating new techniques in your resume writing.
#2 Monitor Your Progress
Nobody can carry out a job exactly the same way that you do, and everyone else’s learning curve is different to yours. This is what employers are essentially counting on as they want to see your own creativity and problem-solving skills in specific areas. Keeping your resume up-to-date and logging in your achievements - instead of job duties, will help you monitor your professional development and will show employers how much you have progressed. Also, it will make you feel more confident about your own abilities.
#3 Remind Yourself of Your Skills
When you are involved in too many things, it is easy to lose track of the things that you do. That is a fact, especially if you are a devoted volunteer and every day is hardly ever the same for you. This is problematic in the sense that you do not ever take the time to write down all of what you did - including your achievements, and when the time comes to explain how you make a good fit, you cannot think of anything to put in your resume.
That is why it is important to keep a draft of your achievements in every job you take. Write it down the moment it crosses your mind otherwise you will forget about it. This is to avoid the struggle of having to remember what you did while on a voluntary project, or even at your previous job.
Personally, I would suggest that you keep a reflective diary where you can write about your experience and what you have learned during that time. While this may sound like a primary school teaching technique, it is actually more than that as writing it down can help you remember what you did, and gives you something to talk about during the job interview.
If you keep a log of your achievements, it is much easier for you to remember what you did during your previous job that potential employers might find useful. Also, it will help you to promote yourself to employers more effectively.
To help you out, perhaps you need to think about the following:
- What changes did you bring to the company?
- Have you made any suggestions for improvement?
- What was the overall result in regards to the company’s development?
If you are referring to yourself and your volunteering experiences, show how involved you were in it and show how you have developed your skills. Being a volunteer is all about showing initiative and developing teamwork, so focus on that when updating your resume.
#4 Be Prepared for the Worst
It is a competitive world that we live in, and people are getting made redundant or let go at a much faster rate than five years ago. In an attempt to reduce their costs, companies are letting go of employees and rethinking their strategies. Likewise, you should be ready for the worst. Make sure that you keep your resume current as you never know when it will come handy. Having an up-to-date resume means that you will move on to another job much quicker and as such you will recover from the layoff sooner.
#5 Be Prepared for the Best
On the flipside, since you never know when opportunity will knock on your door, you should keep your resume up-to-date, so that when you are offered your next promotion, you have it ready in your desk drawer. Likewise, if you are planning to get a new job, your up-to-date resume will be ready.
Having to work on your resume might be overwhelming and stressful for some though it is essential if you want to progress and make good use of available opportunities. But, neglecting your resume altogether means that you will need to put more work on it when the time comes to actually search for a job. So why not save yourself valuable time and effort by updating your resume more often?
Your resume is the most important document that you own. How often do you work on it? Let us know in the comments section below…