Many people believe a resume is just something you put together after you’ve been fired. They think it’s something you use to find a new job.
Well, that’s certainly true, but a resume can do way more than convince people to interview you! Based on feedback I get from my clients, here are 12 benefits enjoyed by people who have a current resume in hand—said another way, reasons why everyone needs a resume.
1. A Resume Builds Self Assurance
The most common perk that clients report back to me goes something like this: “I feel so much more confident now that I’ve seen what I look like on paper,” or “I didn’t know how effective I’ve been in my industry.” So, yes, a fresh resume always gives you a new perspective on yourself. Most people don’t have a realistic picture of what they bring to their company or their field.
Performance reviews, office politics, competition in your industry, and a lack of feedback can leave you feeling unsure of yourself. An objective evaluation of your own career empowers you to interview better, perform better on the job, and perhaps give you the encouragement you need to ask for that well-deserved raise or promotion.
2. A Resume Highlights Shortcomings
At the same time, creating a fresh resume can pinpoint areas that need attention. My client Sarah, a workplace health and wellness coordinator, was surprised when I suggested adding new skills to her resume that corporate wellness trainers should have. It opened her eyes to the gaps in her credentials, so she decided then and there to get certified in her field and be more intentional about professional development.
When you look at your accomplishments, accreditations, degrees, licenses, memberships, publications, awards—and even hobbies—with “HR eyes” you might decide to work on certain areas that will cast you in a more favorable light for that job you’d love.
3. A Resume Helps You Get a Raise
It’s not uncommon for a boss, if he’s not your direct supervisor, to be unaware of all you do. You may have expanded your responsibilities since he hired you. Or the company may have grown—and your workload with it.
After a good friend of mine had worked for two years for a SaaS company, he asked the person he reported to how he could get a raise. His boss made it simple, telling my friend Mike to “write your job description as it stands now, and I’ll take it to the CEO.” Mike hadn’t realized that all the persuasive facts he needed were already on his resume!
When you have a document that defines your job as well as your background and other accomplishments, you have a polished presentation ready for duty. It’s also a friendly reminder to management that you might be someone their competitors would hire.
4. A Resume Keeps You Engaged
Almost every job involves interacting with others, including people you need to impress. When your job calls for maintaining a healthy profit base by keeping present customers and industry leaders connected to you, a resume that’s updated shows you’re not taking clients’ loyalty for granted and you’re staying current with what’s new. Having a unique resume becomes part of your pitch. It says, “I am a valuable member of your team.”
5. A Resume Shows You’re Ambitious
If you are serious about your career, you need to let others know it. And one of the best ways to show your intent is maintaining a resume that increases your visibility and showcases what’s special about you.
Hiring managers and new people you want to network with are impressed by people who make their careers a priority and who act
with focused determination. Go-getter people want to associate with other go-getters, not someone in a holding pattern. Your resume will demonstrate to superiors and others that you take responsibility for your success.
6. A Resume Opens Doors
Sometimes a resume is more than just a resume. My client Jeff told me his resume helped him get a loan that let him make investments in real estate. Another client, Vincent, told me the resume we worked up for him became part of a grant proposal he submitted for his employer. And my client Janelle told me her resume helped her get freelance jobs in proofreading to supplement her income.
Some online universities offer accelerated programs for earning a degree, allowing you to take tests in fields where you have work experience. To convince the school you are qualified to be tested, you’ll be required to submit what’s called an academic portfolio, and a resume can be part of that portfolio.
7. A Resume Makes it Easy for People to Remember You
Different people learn and remember facts in various ways. Some people are auditory learners and others are visual learners. You can help people who learn with their eyes rather than with their ears, by literally putting your name in front of them. Networking and remembering names doesn’t come easily to most people, so help them out by providing a visual.
Your resume also tells new people how to contact you. It’s all in one place—your name, phone, email, blog address, LinkedIn profile, and any other social media info you choose to include. You can think of a resume as a business card on steroids.
8. A Resume Gives You Professional Cred
Your resume is your own personal public relations department. It’s out there building good will for you among contemporaries and industry leaders. Reputations are now built online instead of solely by word-of-mouth. With LinkedIn, the facts about you are live on the Internet, not sitting in a file cabinet or in someone’s head. Anyone can see who you are and what you’ve made of your life. Think about that.
I don’t recommend that people put their resume on LinkedIn, but you can adapt the messaging on your resume to build a great LinkedIn page. And I can help you with that.
If you publish something and an editor wants to include your job title and a brief explanation of your qualifications, you can shoot her your resume so she can mine it for salient facts to draft your bio. If you’re scheduled to speak at an event and the program director needs some facts so he can introduce you or promote the event, you can send your resume. This way, you know the info will be timely and accurate.
9. A Resume Attracts New Business
Every company depends on new business to thrive. The marketplace changes, clients disappear, and profit margins shrink. If part of your job is to attract new customers, your resume is part of the persuasion. You are always an extension of the business that employs you, so the better you look, the better your employer looks. A current resume gives you the edge over competition. It’s another way to keep your boss happy.
10. A Resume Lets You Jump on Opportunities
Life is full of surprises. An old classmate you just friended on Facebook says he’s hiring for a start-up. A neighbor tells you about a new department opening up where he works. Your cousin calls to share that a plum job is up for grabs at his wife’s company. A client drops a hint that he needs “someone like you” at his business.
Just like apartments new on the rental market, good jobs get snatched up quickly. A current resume makes you nimble. You can get in the game without delay. When your network knows you have a formatted document, it makes your connections part of your outreach team. When they are clear on what you’re capable of, they can help you get your foot in the door when timing is essential. You never know when opportunity will come gently tapping on your door.
My friend Karen was traveling home after the holidays and met a woman on the long flight across country. Sharing stories, Karen learned that her seating companion needed an assistant to help her run her fleet of five food trucks. Before they were at the luggage carousel, Karen had a new job because both women, viewing each other’s resumes with a few keystrokes, realized they were a good fit. True story.
11. A Resume Gives You Job Security
The average American changes jobs every 4.6 years, sometimes in order to earn more money or job satisfaction, but sometimes because he was let go. In some industries, if you stay with one employer too long you are viewed as someone lacking skills or goals.
Knowing you have a resume in hand can give you the sense that whatever happens, you are prepared, much like an insurance policy. It protects your reputation and allows you to monitor the progress of your career path, much like a credit report. Every job ends and most jobs morph over time. You don’t want to be at the bottom of the pecking order, the one who is laid off because he seems least qualified, who hasn’t enlarged his supportive network or leveraged his skills. In this sense, a resume is like a goad to its owner, keeping him sharp and in control.
12. A Resume Helps You Find a Job
Finally, there’s the one reason most people think of when they think of resumes.
Life isn’t all about serendipity—the happy coincidences that lead to a better job. Sometimes unwelcome change happens. You’re fired or your hours are reduced. You relocate or change careers. You’re re-entering the job market after an absence or you’re a new grad.
No matter what kind of job seeker you are, a good resume is essential. It will help you network, earn you more money, consolidate your salient information, place you in the best light for a variety of positions (depending on how you tweak it), and even make it easier to fill out a job application form. Your resume is the ultimate document that convinces others to hire you because it documents your achievements and future potential.
Whether you’re a C-suite executive of a Fortune 500 company or a twenty-something just getting your career off the ground, get your resume in order. Why wait?