Warm sunshine filters in through the large open windows of your apartment. A cup of coffee made from perfectly roasted beans sits steaming in an oversized cup on the table next to you. Soft leggings blanket your legs and the cashmere of your sweater wraps you in a hug. You sink a little lower into the deep cushions of your sofa and open your book.
Does it get comfier than this?
Then, just when you think your life couldn’t be more perfect, your phone rings and it’s your mom asking you to go to the post office to mail a package for her.
How could anyone expect you to move from this zone of absolute snugness?!
Leaving a comfortable situation can be really difficult, especially if you’re a creature of habit like I am. But, there are going to be times in your life when you’ll have to make a change.
After four years of living as a student at a university, you’re going to have to leave the quad forever and enter a whole new world of working full-time or part-time. If you’ve already been out of college for a couple of years, you’re probably at your first job and starting to get ready for a change of pace as well.
Whichever situation you’re in, you’re going to need a résumé that reflects who you are and what you’re capable of at that time. Sure, it’s possible to write up a brand-new document, but I’m going to argue that this isn’t the best way to do things.
Here are five reasons you need to constantly update your résumé (even if you’re not currently looking for a job).
- You’ll understand your skill set better
Whether you’re in college or working at your first job, it’s good to write down and identify the tasks you’re doing and the skill set you’re developing. Working at the school’s café? Sure, you go to work every day, take orders, and make coffee, but when it comes down to it, do you know what that means job skill-wise?
Writing down everything that you do and putting it in résumé format will help you understand that by taking orders you’re developing customer service skills. Writing on the café’s Facebook wall about National Espresso Day means you’re building those social media management skills.
At your first job, you will most likely have a steady increase in duties as your time there progresses. From doing introductory tasks to taking on bigger and bigger projects, you’ll want to make sure that you’re writing these down. It’s important to be aware of what you’ve learned at your job, not just what you did.
What did you learn from working on the composition of that one flyer you helped design? Teamwork, attention to detail, copywriting. Then, later when you’re the one who led the design process, you can add project management and the ability to meet fast-paced deadlines to the list. Finally, if you’re asked to actually present this project to your supervisors, you can add that to your résumé as well. Writing these things down when they actually happen will help you to have a clear view of what happened and what you did. (It’ll also make the performance review process a lot less painful!)
Knowing what you can do is one thing. Being able to talk about what you can do is another. By writing things down and keeping an updated résumé, you’ll be ready to answer whenever anyone wants to know what you are capable of. This is important when networking and making connections whether you’re interviewing or just out on the town.
- You’ll be able to figure out what skills you need to develop
While writing out your skills and duties on your résumé, you’ll be able to figure out what skills you’re lacking and how you can strengthen your résumé even further. As a senior in college and at your first job, you should always be looking down the career path you desire. What are other industry players doing? What are some skills that are essential for someone in your field? What are new developments happening in the field?
We cover a lot of different industries on the AfterCollege Blog and help you identify the skills and attitudes necessary to work in those fields. If you’re interested in a certain path, you should be looking into what it takes to work in that area.
After doing some research and staying up-to-date by following companies on Twitter and subscribing to different industry blogs, you can review your résumé and figure out what you need to do to make it better. Having an updated résumé will allow you to have a real understanding of what you can do, what you want to do, and what you might need to improve.
- You’ll have more time to proofread
I don’t know about you, but every time I read anything I’ve written, I find something that could have been phrased better or a small grammar error that needs to be corrected. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve edited or looked over the piece, I can always find a way to improve it. With our twentysomething ebook, Content Marketing Manager Melissa Suzuno and I did edit after edit after edit. Still, we kept finding small areas that we could tweak to make better. It was never-ending.
The same thing goes with your résumé. You’ll always be able to improve upon it. So the more time you have to look it over, the better and better it can become. Constantly referring back to it, making additions, and reading through it, you’ll be able to catch any errors you made and any places that could be improved upon. By the time you actually use it, you’ll have edited it nearly to perfection.
- It takes a lot less time to tweak a résumé than to write a brand-new one
Résumé-writing is not easy. If you haven’t been constantly updating yours, you’re going to have to think back to the work you’ve done, recall what your duties were, and then identify the skills they helped you develop. Not to mention the fact that you’re going to want to match all of those things to the job description for the role you’re applying to. This is going to take a lot of time. Time that could be spent developing new skills, finding more jobs to apply to, and/or working hard at your current position.
Instead, if you’re constantly updating your résumé with the positions you hold and the skills you gained from those jobs, all you have to do when you do decide to start applying is switch a couple of things around.
For more detailed advice about how to tailor your résumé to an industry or job description, you can check out our résumé teardown section here.
- You never know what’s going to happen
Finally, you really never know what’s going to happen. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, something could change your circumstances and you want to be ready. You could be at home on break and your mom could introduce you to her coworker’s husband’s brother who just so happens to be looking to hire an entry-level marketing coordinator. If this happens, you’ll want to have some sort of résumé to show him and not have to frantically try to type one up on your phone in five minutes.
You may be working at what you thought was your dream job out of college and then realize that it isn’t actually what you want to do at all. You could enjoy the work you do, but the company that you work for might not be the right fit. Having an updated résumé will help you apply for and find a position at a place that is right for you.
I hope I’ve convinced you that continually updating your résumé is a good strategy to have. But, if the idea of looking at that piece of paper (or, more likely, document online) sounds about as appealing to you as heading to the dentist’s office, you might want to try to liven things up with little rewards. That’s right, I’m telling you to bribe yourself. Incentivize the process by promising yourself a cronut, duffin, or whatever is the latest oddly named pastry combo to hit the streets, every time you make some edits. You can also enlist the help of a friend to keep you motivated and to form a bond of solidarity. Check out this post for a few other ways to nudge yourself towards good habits.
Homework time! Whether you’re searching for a job or not, start working on your résumé and make sure that you keep it updated. Identify your skills and figure out what you need to add to make yourself a stronger candidate in your field. Not sure what field you’re interested in yet? Take some time to explore your options.