How to avoid scrambling to update your resume

We've all felt the stress of scrambling at the last minute to submit your resume before the deadline. Maybe a recruiter contacted you out of the blue with an amazing opportunity. Perhaps a friend gave you the heads up about an open position you'd be perfect for before it goes live on the company's site. Either way, your resume was outdated and it was a nerve-wracking, stress-inducing scramble to get it prepared in time to capitalize on the opportunity.

Here are a few simple steps at various checkpoints throughout the year to keep your resume up-to-date and to avoid scrambling at the last minute.

Add a new job to your resume one month after you start the position. Set a calendar reminder to edit your resume one month after starting a new position. At that time, you will have a clear idea of the tasks you are responsible for and can articulate your goals. Then, set another calendar reminder for 2-3 months later to fill in your resume with metrics of success. This makes the generic statements of what you do more specific with the results you've been able to deliver thus far.

"There is no substitute for preparation

on the road to success."

You've hit a professional milestone or accomplished a goal! Add it to your resume. When you are proud of your work output and recognized for your success, add one (maybe two) bullet points highlighting your achievements. These moments quickly fade away with the busyness of life, so if you don't write it down right after it happened, there's a high chance you'll forget when you're rushing to submit your resume in the future.

It's time for your annual review and you're reflecting on your year of success. You are already taking time to articulate the results you've brought in for your company to prove why you deserve a raise, more vacation time, or a promotion. So it makes perfect sense to cherry-pick a few successes you want to feature and add them to your resume at this time. This keeps your resume fresh with a results-oriented focus.

You're perusing job sites just to check out the competition -- maybe you're open to opportunities soon but not yet. If you're toying with the idea of seeing what else is out there, take 20 minutes to review your resume and polish it. You might not be ready to leave your current role, but you could stumble across a diamond job in the rough market and you want to feel prepared.

When life gets busy, it's easy to forget about keeping your resume sharp or to put the task on the back burner. My dad used to say, "there is no substitute for preparation on the road to success." Prepare for the expected -- and prepare for the unexpected -- so you can land a job that makes you happy.

Sarah Sax is the Founder of Write For The Job.

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