Your employment situation can change in a heartbeat — the company may be acquired, or sold, or go out of business. A great boss may leave for a new position — and maybe he wants you to come with him/her. Or maybe his/her replacement wants to bring in his/her own people. Are you ready to jump at a new opportunity in an instant?

Even if you are not actively looking for a new position, your executive resume should be updated and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

A resume is not just an obituary of your work history, nor your memoirs — it’s not a summary of everything you’ve done — it’s a strategic marketing document that showcases your value to a prospective employer. Most executives think of a resume as a document that gets their foot in the door with a potential new employer. executive_cv_mistakesWhile that’s true, it is so much more. It can be:

  • Useful for internal promotions or transfers
  • Talking points to guide the content of an interview
  • Introductory information for speaking engagements
  • Background information for political appointments
  • Useful for a board director position
  • Helpful information to substantiate award recognition
  • A networking tool

When is the best time to update my resume?

A good time to create or update your resume is when you are preparing for an annual performance review. Documenting your accomplishments can help you prepare to show your boss how you’ve added value to your position — and company — since your last review. The resume development process is also a good time for self-assessment. A well-written resume tells the story of your career — demonstrating consistent themes and supporting information that highlights your qualifications for your career target, while omitting irrelevant information and positions.

Even if you don’t keep your resume fully updated, keep track of your accomplishments. Track your achievements (copies of emails or letters of appreciation from customers, co-workers, or your boss). Keep “kudos” emails and notes about project specifics — especially scope-and-scale information like percentages, numbers, and dollar figures.

Why should I update my resume?

One of the most common reasons to update your resume when you’re not actively looking for a job is because you don’t have a good feeling about your current situation. Is there a lot of turnover in your current position or the company overall? Have there been rumors of layoffs, or did the company just lose a big contract? These activities can signal a need for a resume update.

On the other hand, what if your department or your company is doing very well? In that case, competitors or recruiters working for competitive companies may contact you to hire you away from your current job.

Looking to the future, updating your resume can also help you determine where you want to go next in your career. Sometimes, examining your work history can help you identify a pattern in your employment history that will help you determine your next career move. An effective resume communicates your current skills, qualifications, and future potential. Identifying a common thread in your experience and accomplishments can help you decide the next step in your career.

Need help identifying where you may need to enhance your current skills or education? If you’re updating your resume you may realize your last certification or in-depth training was more than 10 years ago. This may prompt you to look at how you can bring your skills up-to-date in a key area.

An updated resume can also help you if you’re considering a career change. It can highlight transferable skills targeted towards a new career goal. The new document can also help you identify any deficiencies that you may need to work on strengthening as you pursue a different type of job or career path.

I have a LinkedIn Profile; do I still need a resume?

It’s important to note that a LinkedIn profile is not a substitute for a resume. Because a LinkedIn profile is public (even if you have your privacy settings locked down on LinkedIn, someone can still take a screenshot of your profile or create a PDF of it), there may be information that you do not want to include on your LinkedIn profile that can help demonstrate your accomplishments to a prospective employer. In addition, you can create different resumes targeting specific positions—you can’t do that with your LinkedIn profile.

Furthermore, a well-written resume can actually help you populate your LinkedIn profile, making it easy to complete the “Work Experience” and “Education” sections. Keep in mind that your LinkedIn profile should complement your resume, not be an exact copy of it. And if you are in active job search mode, you may want to attach your resume to your LinkedIn profile.

You never know when you might need your resume, and you want it ready when you do!


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