Put the work in now for an easier job search later
We all know that an active job seeker needs an up-to-date CV. But not everyone keeps their CV updated when they're happily settled, despite the many advantages that this brings.
How often should you update your CV?
While there's no hard-and-fast rule about how often you should update your CV, we advise checking it at least every couple of months. Additionally, you should definitely update your CV every time your responsibilities or qualifications change significantly, for example if you get promoted or complete any training courses.
What's good about this approach is that updating your CV doesn't become a chore if you spend just a few minutes on it regularly ‒ certainly better than waiting years to do a massive overhaul.
What should you update?
When you start a new job, you'll probably receive a job description. Keep hold of this! You can use it as a basis to describe the job on your CV. That said, please don't just copy and paste it – this looks sloppy and probably doesn't accurately reflect how you spend your time.
Use the job description to identify the key objectives and main tasks of your role. Jobs often evolve in small increments, so ensure that any new responsibilities are added and that less relevant ones are removed. At the same time, think back over the past few months and add anything you've achieved in that time – projects completed, costs reduced, contracts won, and so on.
Every so often, you'll need to remove excess detail from early in your career, such as roles that are no longer relevant. Also check that your contact details are still current every time you add an update, in case you've moved or got a new mobile number.
Why you should keep updating your CV
You know when and what to update, but that still hasn't addressed why it's important to do so. Whilst it may feel tedious to frequently check in on your CV, it can help you in the long run. Consider the following reasons to keep your CV up to date:
You never know when an opportunity will arise
By maintaining an up-to-date master CV, you'll be well-prepared should any new opportunity present itself. There's no point scrabbling around trying to cobble together a CV at the last minute when you've been headhunted, or when you've come across an advert for your dream job – with a looming deadline.
Remembering and summarising everything you've done over the last few years is a daunting task and it's likely that key information will be forgotten if you're doing it on the spur of the moment. Keeping your CV current means that you'll only need to spend a few minutes tweaking to ensure it's a perfect fit for any open vacancy.
You may get laid off
Being laid off or made redundant means that you likely find yourself in an unexpected position, with a lot to process, and a busy period of job hunting ahead of you.
An up-to-date CV means that you can hit the job market immediately. You'll have all the information you need at your fingertips, ready to register with recruiters, and you can upload your CV to online job boards immediately. As you scramble to find new employment, your CV will be one less thing to worry about.
You may find yourself unable to access useful information
If you do find yourself unexpectedly unemployed, you may not be able to access critical information held by your employer that would improve your CV. This could include a list of training courses you've completed and quantifiable data regarding your achievements, such as how much you increased profits by or the percentage of enquiries you converted to sales. If you've held several positions with the same company, you'll also need to know when you moved into each role so that the dates on your CV are accurate.
The best CVs are created with time and a clear vision
Emotions run high during the job hunt and many people find it an incredibly stressful time. Maintaining your CV as a regular habit means that you're approaching it with a clear mind and a sense of perspective.
You'll also have time on your side, meaning that you can put in the effort your CV deserves and think logically about what's important and what isn't. A CV created with a sense of panic and a hazy memory is never going to be the best representation of you.
You can use the information in performance discussions
By updating the achievements section of your CV throughout the year, you'll have an accurate record of everything you've contributed to the business since your last performance review. You can use this to emphasise your success and value to the company in your next appraisal. Not only does this prove that you're exceeding the basic requirements of your role, you may also be able to use it to negotiate a pay rise or promotion!
Updating your master CV may seem unimportant when you're not job hunting. However, it's a necessity for when the time comes to present recruiters with a focused and relevant account of why you're the perfect fit for their job. If you feel too busy at work to take on the extra task, you can also always outsource the job and enlist the help of a professional CV writer who will create a stand-out document for you. Alternatively, find out how your CV stacks up by getting a free CV review.