Resume tips about formatting and how to present your background are everywhere you look. But where does that background come from? It comes from your personal history. Crafting a resume is challenging enough without having to go back and dig up information. Number one on your list of resume “do’s” should be to keep an organized file of your personal history.
Start a “Me” folder
Starting today, gather documents and facts. Keep placing items in your file (paper or electronic) as time passes, jobs change, and you have new career milestones. Keep these key things in your “Me” folder:
Education. Dates are not a requirement, although a recent graduation date can imply up-to-date knowledge. Keep track of special honors and GPAs to add clout to your resume.
Dates of employment. Keep a log of the start and end dates of each job in your employment history. This can be done manually or by getting an HRIS printout of your job history when you leave an employer.
Job descriptions. A good job description includes the purpose of the role and its major functions. It also lists the education, experience, skills and competencies required to perform it. All these are important factors when developing a resume. Relevant information from job descriptions is the foundation of the professional experience you’ll showcase on your resume.
Goal documents. Businesses have strategic outcomes. Many set specific goals. Each employee contributes to these. When you and your supervisor, or you and your work unit, write goal statements, keep them.
Recruiters love specific, numeric accomplishments
Accomplishments. As you reach goals and finish projects, write brief summaries. Strong resumes include specific accomplishments of measurable goals. Keeping track of them will also benefit you when it’s time for your performance review. This is one of the common resume tips you can take to the bank.
Performance reviews. Keep a copy of every performance review and all the documentation that accompanies it. The review can be a treasure trove of relevant information about projects, accomplishments, your skills and behaviors. Resist the temptation to toss a not-so-hot review. A couple of years later, you’ll probably find that critical feedback helped you grow and develop professionally. You added knowledge, boosted a skill, or focused on more constructive actions. Taken together, these translate into the all-important statement “Adapts well to change.”
Thank-you notes and memos. When someone recognizes you in writing for doing a great job, keep the email or letter. Their description of your efforts might be handy phraseology in a resume someday, such as “Persistent research yielded positive bottom-line results.” When you receive verbal compliments on a job well done, don’t be shy about asking the colleague or customer to write a note to your manager. People generally are happy to do so.
Extracurricular, leadership and memberships. Things you do off the job build your professional portfolio, too. Are you on the board of your local PTA? Do you coach soccer? Are you a member of a trade group or professional association? Mentioning such activities, when relevant and appropriate, will strengthen your resume.
Previous resumes. Keep all versions, do not make and save changes in an original document!
Build and maintain your professional network
Maintain up-to-date contact information for former managers, colleagues and external customers. Invite them to join your LinkedIn network. People with whom you’ve had a good working relationship can be helpful when updating your resume or launching a job search. And of course, if you plan to use someone as a reference, you need to get their OK first.
You’ll be amazed how easy it is to write or update your resume with all this information at your fingertips.
Author Ibby Vores, SHRM-SCP, is a human resources consultant, recruiter and communication expert. She is a job readiness instructor and coach in the Virtanza Sales Training, Certification, Training, and Job Placement Assistance Program. Students in the program receive instruction and one-on-one coaching in crafting their resumes and cover letters. S2J also assists with job applications and introductions to employers.