Spring Cleaning: Freshen Up Your Career Documents
Ahhh… what a wonderful feeling!
But to borrow a page out of our hardy forebears, this isn’t where one gets to rest on their laurels… time’s a-wastin’! It’s time to do much-needed deep cleaning.
But I’m not talking about purging the garage, or moving the couch to get at those annoying dust bunnies. Instead, let’s zero in on your career documents. Why?
Because most people let them gather dust and only clear them off to see the light of day only when they actually need them… say, for a job interview, or in the event of job loss or layoff.
Sound familiar? Have I struck a nerve yet?
Freshening up your career assets ensures that you are ready to respond to opportunities as well as unplanned changes… and is essential to your overall career management. Don’t treat them as obituaries… you know, as in: “Susie did this and Susie did that….”
Yikes! Wouldn’t it be better to instead have an up-to-date document that also helps you strategize what skills you might want to add in the coming year, or what organizations you should join to boost your networking IQ? I think so.
So, every time I speak to a group, I make everyone in the audience raise their hand and take a solemn oath to update their résumé and career documents every 6 months.
Sounds kind of funny, but in reality, this isn’t a frivolous exercise.
This is serious business.
By keeping on top of what you’ve been achieving and setting career goals for yourself, you’ll gain the momentum you need to either find that dream job or nail the promotion you’ve been angling towards over the past few years.
But first, in order to take the pain out of updating your career documents, you’ll need to create a career management file. Not having one is sort of like trying to put the cart before the horse.
This file is going to be your catch-all file that will help be those memory triggers so you don’t spend hours on end scratching your head, trying to remember what in the heck you did 5 years ago.
In this career management file, you’ll put:
- Kudos letters from co-workers, bosses, colleagues, and clients.
- An extra copy of registrations for any educational events you’ve attended (including seminars, workshops, conferences, conventions, tradeshows, webinars, trainings, classes, etc.)
- Certificates of memberships so you can easily recall what organizations you joined and when
- Staff reports
- Plan of work
- Post-event recaps
- Performance assessments / reviews
- Any kind of metrics used to measure job success to goal
- Notations of any kind of volunteer, committee, or board service
- Any accolades you’ve received (i.e. awards, speaking engagements, features, quotes, etc.)
So, presto! Now when it’s time to update your career documents, you have all of your updates in one easy-to-locate spot!
Update your work history with concrete, measurable wins. Under the “Education” section, you’ll add all the things you’ve done to enhance your professional development with jobs-specific knowledge. Don’t forget including new volunteer service (MPI has a great way of adding this kind of meaty stuff to most members’ résumés) to demonstrate involvement and leadership.
Once you have your résumé up to date, then it’s time to turn your attention to its online companion, LinkedIn, and add in the same information to freshen up your profile.
Once your profile is modified, make sure you occasionally add a status update as well (much like a Tweet on Twitter) so it looks like the lights are on and someone is home.
By always doing a spring cleaning to your career credentials, you can rest assured that you are always “at the ready” for any opportunities that come your way. Trust me… You’ll thank yourself later for it!
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.