Recording Your Career Milestones Can Save Your Career
As the month of August comes to a close, we are reminded that the hot days of summer are coming to an end. Doesn't it seem like with everything we are always trying to catch up with time? With so much going on around us, we can often overlook important milestones in our personal and professional lives. Most professionals wait until they are actively job hunting to begin reviewing their career progression or start putting together a resume.

I recently had a conversation with a senior executive who regrettably missed out on a huge job opportunity because she was unprepared. Secure in her current position, she had not revised or updated her resume in over 15 years—lack of a current resume ended up costing her much more than she ever imagined.

Think about it. If you were contacted today about the job you have been dreaming about, are you really prepared? The month of September is unique. The Career Directors International has designated it as “International Update Your Resume” month. Resume writers around the world are actively encouraging professionals to take a proactive approach toward meeting unforeseen market and company changes by revising and updating their resumes.

In addition to resume updates, I personally recommend creating a career management file to keep track of company job descriptions, training classes, certificates, summary of major projects, performance evaluations, conferences, and any other pertinent information related to your career development. So how do you know whether you are the right candidate for a resume update? Well, here are some scenarios that you should consider:

  1. Your most recent position listed on your resume in not the same position that you hold today.
  2. You have been promoted in the past year, but your resume does not reflect your new title and responsibilities.
  3. You have been working in the same company for more than 15 years and have not made any changes to your original resume.
  4. You have completely changed careers, but your resume still highlights accomplishments from your old career path.
  5. You are abiding by the overused “one-page” resume myth to condense more than 15 years of professional experience.
  6. You have professional experience dating back to positions you held when President Carter was still in office.
  7. Your existing resume has includes every position you ever held including jobs in college and high school.
If you can relate to any of the scenarios listed above, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to update the entire resume in one day, try working on one section at a time.

  • Contact Information: Update your contact information if you have moved or changed phone numbers. Be sure to include an active, professional email address.

  • Core Competencies: This area is critical in every resume; however, if you are a career changer, make sure that your resume contains relevant keywords that reposition for your next move.

  • Education, Training & Certifications: Develop a list of training classes, advanced courses, and certifications you have taken in the past 12 months. This section should also contain any degree programs you have completed or are in the process of completing.

  • Resume Length: For those of you, who have a hard time letting go, keep this rule of thumb in mind for resume length. You should have at least one page of resume content for every eight to ten years of professional experience. You cannot fit twenty-five years’ experience on one page, so don’t try!
SPECIAL TIP: Focus on the last 15 years of your work experience (even if you have worked longer) and highlight key career milestones from that time period; any experience older than 15 years can be summarized through a brief paragraph description of earlier positions. See example:
  • Career Accomplishments: There are two ways to showcase your career milestones, achievements, and accomplishments. You can either create a separate section on your resume that covers five to seven major achievements you are proud of and place it on the first page or you can incorporate achievements throughout your resume with each corresponding position. This sample does a combination of both:
Review performance evaluations, talk to colleagues, and have informal meetings with your supervisor to organize a comprehensive list of your achievements to date.

If none of the scenarios relate to you, don’t assume that you are in the clear. Adopt the annual habit of updating your resume—taking a proactive approach toward meeting unforeseen market, industry and company changes is the best preparation for long-term career management.

© Copyright 2007 Premier Writing Solutions, LLC

NOTE: During the week of the September 10th, 2007, we are happy to offer free resume reviews and offer constructive feedback on developing a distinctive resume. In addition, previous clients can enjoy a 10% discount on all resume updates. For a copy of a MS Word worksheet to assist with your resume update, please send an email to and put "Resume Worksheet" in the subject line.