I plan to spend the next few posts discussing how to create a strong resume or curriculum vitae.
I tend to use resume and curriculum vitae (CV) interchangeably, so please indulge me.
There are many ways to create a great resume, but I want to offer my advice on my recommended method. Over time, it will strengthen your CV and marketability.
Create a Master Resume
I recommend that you create a master resume. One that grows with you over your life.
You can begin by using a standard, generic resume template. The ones that segregate your life into education, work experience, achievements, memberships, special skills, volunteering, hobbies, etc.
Fill it out in bullet format as if you were preparing a resume for submission. Use point form. One bullet for each, single point you wish to convey.
If you are just starting out in the work world, perhaps you have one page of bullets. If you have significant experience, maybe you have five pages filled. Length does not matter at this point. Put in everything you can think of that fits into one of the segregated boxes.
Continually Expand Over Time
Every time you get an evaluation at work, certificate upon completing a course, email from a superior complimenting your performance, achieve a success, etc., note it on the appropriate section of your CV. The achievement can be from school, employment, extracurricular activities, anything.
The key is that it is something that demonstrates a skill, experience, success, etc., that may one day help (even in a small way) obtain a job. Better to note something today and never use it, than be racking your brain 10 years hence and be unable to remember an important item.
If you can quantify the achievement via an independent source, that is best. Perhaps an evaluation at work that indicates your sales figures increased from $500,000 to $800,000 over the previous year. Or a newspaper account of your volunteer activities in the community.
Scan and save a copy of the individual item as proof of your achievement. Be sure the soft copy is in the same folder as your master CV for ease of access. And save copies of your resume folder in multiple locations. You do not want the family cat urinating on your laptop and five years of success stories get zapped.
By maintaining backup, if ever challenged about a claim you make during an interview, you can provide the interviewer with supporting data. Besides verifying the claim, having that sort of organization skills and foresight tells the questioner much about you as a person. All good.
Document things as they occur. Circumstances may change rapidly.
Perhaps you have done great work for your boss over the last two years. Then one day he up and dies and you need to find a new job. He is dead, so good luck getting a positive reference. Or maybe you get a little too drunk at the office Christmas party and make a pass at his wife. Despite your performance over the last two years, do you think you will get a great reference? Okay, perhaps.
Maybe you arrive at work one morning and find the locks changed? Good luck printing out business emails extolling your talents.
I personally know many companies who have fired employees and/or laid off large numbers in a single session. The company – rightfully, in my opinion – wants to minimize any chance that a terminated employee can harm the systems and/or access proprietary corporate information. It may seem cutthroat, but most companies have security show you to your desk, monitor what you pack up, and walk you to the exit. If you want to do something, you had best do it along the way while still happily employed.
Continually Update, But Regularly Review in Total
Review and update your CV each time a material event occurs.
A material event being something of significance that definitely impacts your resume. A new position, completion of a training program, winning a business competition in school, and the like.
Review and update every six months regardless for things you may have missed.
You may not have received verifiable items to add, but perhaps your function evolved over the last quarter. Or maybe you are working on a new project that has not yet been completed. It is relatively simple to remember what transpired over the last six months. It is much less easy to go back two years and accurately get everything right. Or find supporting documentation for your point.
Master Becomes Monster
Your master resume will become a monster over time. But everything will be in one place. When you meet someone at a social event who suggests you send in a copy of your c.v., you will not need two weeks to try and develop one from scratch.
Obviously (well I hope it is obvious), you will not submit a 25 page resume with your next job application. Especially one that includes your waitress job while in college for a senior geologist position. Tailor the content so it reflects the stated job requirements and desired qualifications.
We will talk about the tailoring process in an upcoming post.