Many people wait until they need a job (or a job opportunity is brought to their attention) before they get their resumes in order. But if you wait until you absolutely need your resume, then you may already be too late.
In reality, you never know when you’ll need a job, or when a job opportunity will present itself. If you’re given notice today, will you be ready to start your job search immediately? If a friend mentions an opening at your dream employer, will you be ready to submit your resume? If a legal recruiter calls, could you email her your resume today? If you’re not ready to move, rest assured that your competition for these opportunities is ready, willing, and able. While you spend the next week or two getting your resume together, someone else is submitting hers.
One of the simplest and most important tactics you can implement in your job search and career development is to be ready. Invest the time to create a thorough long-form resume, as well as a short-form version. In the long-form resume, you’ll have every bit of information; it’s more like a CV. The point of the long-form resume is to gather all information you might need in one place, so that you can use it as a basis for creating shorter, targeted resumes aimed at particular opportunities. You can also use the long-form resume to help refresh your memory before job interviews. After you’ve created the long-form resume, edit it down and revise it to create a targeted short form resume. Keep that general short form resume handy.
Keep your long-form and short-form resumes updated—calendar a tickler to check your resumes every quarter and to update them as necessary. While you’re at it, update your writing sample selection (without violating attorney-client privilege or other confidentiality concerns, of course) and double-check that you’re on-target with your long-term career goals. As you review your materials, consider your overall career development. Are there technical skills you need to improve on, experiences to gain that would increase employer interest, or other ways to advance your career? Is it time to finally write that article you’ve been putting off? Time to defend a deposition on your own?
Having your resume ready before you need a job means you’ll be able to act quickly when opportunities come your way.