update-your-resume-annually-rachel-frenchWhen was the last time you looked at your resume? If you’re a business owner, it’s probably been a LONG time. And if you have a job, the last time was probably when you were trying to GET this job!

There’s nothing worse than needing to give someone your resume and realizing that it’s sorely outdated…or worse, that you have no idea where it is.

You really should be updating your resume once a year, whether you are self-employed, happily employed, underemployed or unemployed. Why? Well, consider the fact that you may be asked for a resume or CV or work experience at the most unexpected times, and you want to be ready.

Even business owners are sometimes asked to provide the equivalent of a resume–when applying for a speaking or training gig, when asking to be introduced to someone higher up in the company, when partners or cooperating businesses are brought into a deal, when providing services on a 1099 basis, when applying to join professional organizations…the list goes on. Have that document ready to send the moment it’s requested.

And hey, same goes for the happily employed. Your boss may need to provide something resume-ish about team members to a partner or client. You may need to provide one if you apply for a promotion or want to move into a different department. You may meet someone who suddenly offers you the job you never knew you wanted, and you’ll need to give them your resume.

It’s very empowering to have your resume updated and ready to go out at a moment’s notice. In this economy, I meet countless people who say, “I’m lucky just to have a job,” and when they say that, I know they feel trapped. My advice is always to at least LOOK at other employment opportunities, and if you decide you’re satisfied with where you are, you don’t need to take further action. (I can’t take credit for this idea. My good friend Maura Raffensperger is the one who told me her mother said look for a new job every year to make sure you don’t really want one!)

But if you have your resume (and a basic cover letter) all set to go, and you DO see a great job opening, what would it hurt to apply? You might find that just going through the motions of a job search is enough to either (a) get you serious about getting un-trapped, or (b) help you realize you have it pretty good already.

Ditto for business owners. In your most private moments, you may admit (if only to yourself) that you wonder how much longer you can do this. You wonder if you can make this business work. Or if you even WANT to make it work. You wonder if you are still employable. You wonder if you miss the structure and comradery of a traditional job. You wonder if you might take your entrepreneurial experience back into the traditional workforce and be positively unstoppable. Well, go find out!

I really do think that the task of putting together a resume feels daunting to many people, and it can even stop you from pursuing a job search when you KNOW you need to. Wouldn’t it be a shame to admit to yourself that you WOULD look for a job if only you didn’t have to update your resume? It would be embarrassing, but you would be in good company! Lots of us dread that first step so much that it keeps us off the path entirely.

So update your resume every year. It’s the professional equivalent to picking up a little clutter every day so you don’t have to spend an entire weekend cleaning up a super messy house. A little at a time, and things are SO much easier.

By the way, your LinkedIn profile is an online resume of sorts, and you need to stay on top of that NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH YOUR JOB OR BIZ . Keep it updated. Make sure it reflects your most recent accomplishments. Brag a little, but keep it professional. And for the love of all that’s holy, put a professionally done headshot up there. Don’t you dare use a selfie, or crop yourself from a group picture. Pay someone to take your picture. Even online, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHO MIGHT FIND YOU ONLINE. Be ready!

Sooo….there’s a lot more to be said on the subject of resumes, but my hope is that you will at least find yours and update it so you won’t be caught in a pinch without it. I would hate to hear you lost a great opportunity to someone who WAS ready to present their work experience and accomplishments when asked. And get your LinkedIn profile up-to-date (great tips in this Inc. magazine article and in this very cool infographic). I don’t care WHAT industry you are in–if you don’t have a stellar LinkedIn presence, you are probably losing opportunities AND DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

P.S. If you’re in the Southern California area, I can recommend two photographers at the same (very reasonable!) price point. They have very different styles when it comes to headshots, so depending on what you’re looking for, one of them should fit the bill. I’m happy to make the introduction for you, or check out their portfolio and prices online at www.megansachsphotography.com and www.jordankubatphotography.com.

photo credit: Resume – Glasses via photopin (license)

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