How Often Should You Update Your Resume?

Most people know by now that your resume should be tailored to the individual jobs you’re applying for. But did you know a job hunt isn’t the only time your resume should see the light of day? Being in between jobs can be a stressful time, and you certainly don’t want to compound that stress by having to frantically dig out your decade-old CV to see what’s still relevant (hint: probably not a whole lot). There’s never been a better time for you to spruce up your professional profile, but how often should you really be doing it?


It depends…

Unfortunately, the most truthful answer is also the most frustrating: it depends. If you work in an industry that’s constantly evolving and introducing new technologies and skill sets, you’ll obviously have more opportunities for updating than someone in an industry that stays relatively quiet in terms of change.

In a dynamic industry, it’s more often than you might think

CNBC suggests a two-fold approach to keeping up with your resume: at the end of each fiscal quarter (so roughly every three months) and after each performance review you have with your boss. This allows you to become very familiar with your own professional accomplishments and should be treated with the seriousness and respect of a regular business meeting. Think about your recent successes, projects, or other performance-based accomplishments and add them on with as much concrete evidence and support as you can.

Has your role or set of responsibilities changed? Are you being trusted with more sophisticated or challenging assignments? Have you received any particular recognition or rewards from the higher-ups? These are all things to take into consideration when sitting down with your CV. Even if you’re content with your present job, making these tweaks on a regular basis can help you be prepared for whenever opportunity knocks—whether that’s in the form of a promotion at your current company or a call from a recruiter offering you an amazing opportunity.

In quiet industries, you have a little more breathing room

If your industry trends don’t tend to change much from year to year, you can likely get away with only updating your resume every six months (or once every year at the absolute minimum). What should you be looking for? Turn a critical eye to the “clutter” that may be diluting your real accomplishments and remove anything that doesn’t apply to you anymore. A good example of this is removing anything you did in college if you have a healthy amount of work experience under your belt.

It helps if you think of your resume as a living, breathing document. After all, the very nature of working a job means you periodically gain new experiences, successes, and skills that deserve a spot on your CV. Think about the projects you’ve worked on that showcase a different set of skills than you already listed—go ahead and list them! Is there an accomplishment you’re particularly proud of? Include it! And don’t forget to keep your list of references up to date, as well. It will do you exactly zero good if, when you’re in a pinch and need to apply for a job ASAP, you discover a person you’ve listed is someone you haven’t talked to in a decade or no longer feel comfortable contacting.

The truth is, resumes have come a long way since your parents’ days. In fact, if you’ve been in the job market for a while, you’ve probably noticed they’ve come a long way since your first days. Treating your CV as a flexible extension of your career—in other words, as a document that needs to be continually updated—can help stave off any major overhauls you might have to do if you find yourself in between jobs. Make the small tweaks on a regular basis, and it won’t need a giant tune-up if or when the time comes to make your next big career move.

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