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6 reasons to keep your CV updated

March 20, 2024

Picture the scene: it’s your school reunion. 🍸

You’ve got past the awkward hellos when your brain is in overdrive trying to remember long forgotten names; you’ve done the whole ‘where do you live and with whom’ bit; and now you’re onto careers stuff.

Laughing over the tedium of first jobs, groaning about nightmare bosses, you hear many of your old classmates admit they still don’t know what they want to do. Inside, you hug yourself with relief that you’ve found your vocation although, if you’re honest, you know it’s time to move on to new challenges. That’s hard to face though.

You notice a guy standing just outside the group. You suspect he’s been dragged here by his partner for moral support. Taking pity on him, you ask about his funny job stories and what he’s doing now. Turns out you work in similar fields, and twenty minutes later you’re still enthusiastically debating how your sector should be responding to AI. 

Suddenly, someone squeals your name from the other side of the room (is it Sally, Sarah maybe? Come on brain!) and it’s clear your chat is over. 

He hurriedly pulls out his wallet and hands you his card. “Look, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. You’ve got experience and ideas I think we could use. Would you send me your CV so I can share it with our project lead?”

“Yes, absolutely!” you reply, thrilled about the possibilities that have just opened up before you. Giving him a broad smile, you turn to the overexcited Sally (or Sarah, come on, really, brain) and…

Pop! Your enthusiasm vanishes as you realise you haven’t updated your CV since you joined your firm 15 years ago. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Ugh, it’s going to take ages.

Reason 1 to keep your CV updated: you never know when opportunity knocks, and you want to be able to respond without delay.

CVs: a very brief summary

In short, a CV or Curriculum Vitae, is a summary of your skills, experience, education and qualifications to date (and do keep them short, two pages in most cases). 

If you’re applying for a job, you may be asked to submit your CV, but if not, you’ll still want to refer to it when completing your application. Which brings us to reason 2 to keep your CV updated: make it quick and easy to remember what you’ve done.

I know that sounds obvious, but as you clock up the years at work, it’s easy to forget what you’ve done. 

Compile a master document that captures your ‘course of life’, the Latin meaning of Curriculum Vitae. Once a year (performance reviews are a good prompt to do this), make a note of contributions and achievements you’re proud of, what you’ve learned, problems you’ve solved and challenges overcome.  It’ll be multiple pages so don’t ever send as is. Think of it as a menu from which to pick evidence of how you meet job requirements. It’s also great to look over when you need a confidence boost! (‘Did I do all that?‘)

Use your CV to manage your mindset and your career

Here are a few more ways you can use your CV as a tool to proactively manage your confidence, your career and have peace of mind that you’re job-search ready should the worst happen.

3. Overcome job-search inertia and confidence dips

Moving on, especially from a long-standing job, can feel daunting. Could you really work somewhere else? How will you do in an interview? Updating your CV is a good first step.

Reflecting on how you’ve grown, your strengths, what you enjoy, and the impact you have when you’re working at your best, will boost your confidence and kick-start thinking about what you’d like your next job to look like. Summarising this on paper helps you step back and see your transferable skills with more objectivity, countering those doubting voices.

4. Get yourself on more people’s radar to hear about opportunities

Whether that’s at industry events, networking online, or collaborating with colleagues, get yourself on people’s radar by sharing a current CV that demonstrates your background and expertise and makes clear what sort of work interests you. That way, you multiply the number of people who understand your capabilities and can be on the look out for suitable opportunities for you.

LinkedIn is an easy way to do this, so remember to update your profile whenever you update your CV.

5. Know you’re prepared for unforeseen events

Life is uncertain, you never know when you might be impacted by a restructure, redundancy, or a change in personal circumstances, that means you’re job hunting sooner than expected.

Having a CV on hand reduces some of the stress associated with these situations and allows you to respond quickly.

6. Stay positive and resilient when you’re in a job you don’t like

I see first hand how quickly clients lose confidence when they’re doing a job they don’t like, or they’re impacted by external factors like poor leadership, lack of resources, or a long hours culture. If you’re in this situation, update your CV as a reminder of what you’re achieving in spite of the circumstances, and to give you reassurance you’re ready to apply for other roles should you conclude things aren’t going to improve.  Choice is empowering.

Time to update your CV?

So, when did you last think about your CV and could it benefit from a bit of proactive work this weekend?

There are lots of books and online tips and templates to give you ideas on content and layout; just make sure they are relatively recent to reflect current employment trends.

Break it down into chunks, reviewing a section each day, and you’ll soon be there. 

Progress not perfection.

Ask someone you trust to take a look at it and tell them when you’ll get it to them. This provides accountability and gets you feedback and a spell check too. If you’d benefit from a conversation about revising your CV, identifying skills or widening your network for an upcoming job search, please get in touch. A 60 minute Sounding Board is a good way to get you started.

Already found a new job to go to? Download my tips for Finishing a job successfully for thoughts on how to leave your current role with grace and purpose, even if you can’t wait to get out the door!

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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