If you are like most people I talk to every day, keeping your resume current isn't at the top of the priority list. People usually think about their resume only when they are actively looking for work or when a job comes up that piques their interest. But if you have to spend a few days writing a new one, it could mean someone else gets the job before you have the opportunity to apply, or the recruiter moves on to the next person. You also risk forgetting some of those valuable accomplishments to add to your resume.
Here are four tips to keep your information up-to-date:
1. Do quarterly (or monthly) self-evaluation. Schedule one hour every 90 days or so to reflect on your performance and career goals. Were you tasked with a specific project? Do you have information to quantify your results? Did any of your key responsibilities change? If you wait to do this until you have to write a resume, you risk forgetting or simply not having access to the information.
2. Write down your successes as they happen. It might not seem resume-worthy at the time, but each company has certain problems to solve and is highly likely to hire the candidates who have solved similar problems in the past. Keeping a log of your successes will keep them fresh in your mind and you will have deployable examples when you need them quickly.
[See more advice like this at U.S.News Careers.]
3. Keep a note-taking application like Evernote on your desktop and mobile. This is my most used daily application. I use it for taking notes, logging things I'd like to remember, and capturing images or text I'd like to save for later reference. Then I tag the information with the appropriate label for quick searching. Since it's all saved to your online account, you can access it from anywhere and never have to worry about losing important career notes again.
4. Keep your LinkedIn profile current. If you have to start from scratch, a complete LinkedIn profile could at least give you a head start. In some cases, it might be sufficient to get the process moving (but don't depend on it!).
Even if you never go out on an interview with that resume, don't assume your efforts have gone to waste. You can use it in your next performance review—its content will be conveniently on hand when you are asked to discuss your achievements and may better position you for a promotion and a raise.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing, a national search firm that specializes in placing public relations and communications professionals. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.