Refresh Your Resume for 2011 Before You Have To

The new year is the perfect time to reflect on milestones, refresh the accomplishments and performance numbers and put it all down in your resume, should you need one in 2011.


Something felt wrong.

The business development executive was concerned about the viability of his company. He and his career development coach, Chris Westfall, thought he might not be a good fit in the organization. Sure enough, in early December the executive’s e-mail stopped working.

Happy holidays, indeed: He was out on the street, without so much as a dime of severance pay. Westfall, who’s a professional development coach for recent MBA graduates at Texas Christian University and an instructor at Southern Methodist University, said the moral of the story is, “Trust your instincts, and take action!” The good news: His client had been working with Westfall prior to his job loss. They were, Westfall said, “already on the path to meaningful change.”

With the new year comes the chance to catch your resume up on what you accomplished in the previous year, so you’ll be ready to jump into action if an opportunity arises or your job disappears. Did you get promoted? Take on new responsibilities? Start the new year with a fresh resume and a file full of bragging rights, and you’ll be ready for whatever 2011 has in store. Here are some things to consider for a resume refresh.

Update Your Client and Contact List

Westfall calls his client a “Hometown Hero”: a local business development guy, born and raised in Dallas, with an “astonishing” client list. That’s going to be an invaluable asset to him, as he communicates what he’s done for clients and what he can do for an employer.

Resume professionals recommend weaving clients into your resume where appropriate, typically in work history or summary sections. Westfall and his client are also working on adding more connections and completing the client’s LinkedIn profile, to raise his prominence in search results and strengthen his online brand.

Update Your Numbers

Career and lifestyle expert and author Sandra Lamb recently had a client who was an IT professional. He was promoted to supervising a team around the world, and he had plenty of new performance metrics to tout following a recent project release his group completed.

These are the quantifiables he recorded in his resume file:

  1. Number of team members he supervised
  2. Team members’ geographical locations
  3. Complexity and time frame of release
  4. Initial release statistics
  5. Time, retooling and rerelease of the product

Lamb’s client will draw from these when he sends out a resume to a potential employer. This approach makes him a prime candidate for several employers familiar with his skills — even in this “anemic market” — if/when they need to fill a key position, Lamb said.

Take stock of the projects you worked on in the past year. Gather up data with regards to impact, supervisory scope, time frames, total sales and whatever else is quantifiable.

Update Your Skills Section

Elizabeth Lions, author of “Recession Proof Yourself!” suggests that now is the time to get a certification or otherwise add to your skills. For IT professionals, the project management professional (PMP) is a red-hot commodity. Learning Tree International’s Don Berbary, president and general manager for U.S. operations, said client companies are pushing their employees to get project management training under their belts so they can better manage large and complex products.

Whatever certifications are hot in your field, go for them. If you took courses and/or acquired a certification in 2010, make sure it’s on your resume.

More Updateables

Other items to store in your resume update file:

  1. Promotions
  2. New responsibilities
  3. Thank-you letters, e-mails

And a few more update tips, from Joey Price, HR director and founder of Push Consultant Group, LLC :

  1. Leverage Performance Reviews: Document positive accomplishments discussed with your supervisor, Price counseled.
  2. Ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn from your supervisor and colleagues. “Employers are more likely to write favorable recommendations while you are employed when you have done a good job,” he said.
  3. Never miss a milestone: Price encourages clients to keep a career journal where they document daily accomplishments. It’s helpful both in preparing for a performance review and updating a resume.