Welcome to “Dear Dana”, our weekly column to give you career and workplace advice/coaching. Please write in and tell me about a career challenge or frustration you’re facing at the office! – Dana Theus
Dear Dana, I didn’t think I’d be looking for a job so soon but my company is downsizing and I see the writing on the wall. I need to update my resume quickly. Where should I start? – Panicked in Peoria
I know this is going to sound counter-intuitive but hear me out. Don’t’ update your resume—yet. Of course you’ll probably need a good resume to get a new job, but starting by updating your resume is like planning a long trip by deciding which suitcase to bring before you’ve decided where you’re going or how you’re getting there.
I don’t know how long you’ve been in the job market, but things have changed dramatically in the last ten years. Fewer than 5% of jobs are filled through online/resume applications. Most of the job offers come through networking and LinkedIn recruiting where your resume is not the most important tool in your toolbox. It’s the thing you provide when you’ve made a good connection for a job you’re interested in because it meets your personal life-work criteria and you want to take the next step towards an interview. Even in those cases where your resume gets you in the door, it works because you’ve so well-crafted it to position yourself for a great job.
So even though you feel like you should start at the end, I strongly advise you to go back to the beginning and spend some time focusing on what you want. What kind of job is perfect for you and will complement the rest of your life? Keep honing in on what you want by researching your dream job online. Filter all the not-perfect-fits and find the few that are great and then craft your networking plan and LinkedIn Profile to position you for those jobs. THEN you can write your resume and it will be a much easier and more effective use of your time and energy.
If you feel you just can’t start without having an updated resume in your back pocket, go ahead and update it quickly, but set a timer and don’t let yourself spend more than an hour bringing the facts up to date. Your resume simply isn’t the best tool to help you capture your aspirations and personal brand for your next career move. Take a more considered approach and don’t get your suitcase out until you have your trip planning well underway.
P.S. – Have a question you’d like anonymous support on? Write me!