The Importance of Maintaining a Living Résumé

Be prepared for change in your work life by maintaining a living résumé.

As career professionals, we support our clients by creating a compelling résumé. However, it’s important for all of us to maintain a constantly-evolving, living, “breathing” blueprint of our professional, academic, community, and volunteer activities and achievements. This is the living résumé. The living résumé is a valuable tool for every individual, even those who love their jobs and their employers. Who knows when a lucrative offer that cannot be refused may come along? A living résumé serves as a valuable and handy resource to help populate multiple customized résumés, biographies, blogs, career pages, job applications, and more.

Many happily-employed clients fail to maintain a living résumé because they don’t see the need. But then the unexpected happens; they’re transitioned out, offered a major promotion, or are headhunted for an appealing new job with a different company. The need suddenly arises for an up-to-date, targeted résumé. Many individuals forget exactly what they achieved during their college years, the awards or recognition they earned, the projects they led, or the milestones they were known for – including dates and statistics – unless these achievements and activities are tracked and recorded. There are several methods of keeping a living résumé and, if updated on a weekly basis, the task is not overwhelming and takes only minutes.

A Simple Living Résumé Document

Let’s start with the simplest way to create and maintain a living résumé – often called a master résumé – as an MS Word document. Once all pertinent data has been collected, the document can be constructed much like a personal diary that’s added to on a regular basis. Starting with the oldest information, the living résumé can be built up using sections, headings, or columns to make the information easy to spot and quickly retrieve.

Here are some common headings that clients may consider including in a living résumé document: dates, company name,  job title, responsibilities, key accomplishments (with quantifying statistics, if applicable), skills used and/or developed, notable projects, education and/or professional development, awards and honours, professional associations joined, publications and presentations, volunteer work, commendations and testimonials.

A LinkedIn Feed Can Be a Living Résumé

Your clients, especially career changers, will need to help a recruiter feel connected with them. They can do this by creating and curating an interesting, compelling LinkedIn feed that delivers value. This becomes their living résumé. Clients can access various features on LinkedIn, making it a robust source of information, an empowering platform for resources, and a vehicle for connecting with thousands of network contacts.

When clients find and curate articles and post them to their LI feed, they are empowering their network, forming meaningful connections, and demonstrating thought leadership by sharing and applying their vast knowledge. By leveraging creator mode on LinkedIn, they can build their living résumé so recruiters can easily find them and screen them in. If clients want to be seen as influencers and expand their networks, constructing a living résumé through the content they create and curate on LinkedIn can be a game-changer.

A Living Résumé Website

As a career professional, you can encourage your client to keep a record of their career progression on a personal website. A résumé website can help your client enhance their creativity and refine their personal brand while keeping an up-to-date record of their career trajectory, community involvement, and volunteer activities.

Creating a living résumé is not something that happens overnight. Instead, a process of brainstorming, fact-finding, data collection, and reflection is needed in order to craft a résumé that has the power to influence and effectively communicate an individual’s brand.

Seven Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Living Résumé

  1. Review your important documents throughout your life. Extract all the activities, awards, projects, photos, recommendations, degrees, grades, certifications, sports awards, and other supporting material, from both offline and online sources (on LinkedIn, for example).
  2. Track down every résumé you have ever made in your life. Doing so will help you understand your brand and express yourself authentically at a specific point in time.
  3. Go back through your computer and external hard drives; gather all your photos, educational and professional papers, and job applications.
  4. Focus on building your living résumé in chronological order. Include all information, even the things that seem irrelevant or too small or brief. This step will take days, weeks, or months, depending on the time you can devote to the task. Remember to unearth your accomplishments using CAR stories.
  5. Reflect! Choose any of your old résumés and compare them to your new living résumé. No doubt you’ll spot many events you’ve now documented in your living résumé that could have improved your older résumés, biographies, blog posts, presentations, or cover letters.
  6. Keep growing your professional “diary” with every event that happens in your life. Save your living résumé in multiple places – in the cloud, on a thumb drive, in an email to yourself or a trusted friend – to prevent losing this valuable blueprint.
  7. Give yourself a pat on the back! You are now be equipped with a record that allows you to communicate fully who you are, what you have achieved, and what you have to offer.

For more helpful tips on résumé writing and editing, and understanding employment strategy, please check out all the valuable resources on the CPC website. Consider earning the Certified Résumé Strategist certification or enrol in CPC’s Advanced Résumé Development course and be equipped to counter the contradictions and challenges of résumé writing.

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

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This is an important article Lori, thank you for writing this. I easily forget things I’ve done and especially dates. It’s difficult and time consuming to find the information later on. This master copy is definitely worth having.

Thank you Felisha for providing the valuable feedback. I agree.