When most of us think about a resume, the obvious reason to have one is when you’re looking for a job. But there are many other reasons why you should put together – or update – your resume now, even if you’re not actively seeking new employment.

  1. Your employment situation can change in a heartbeat.
    • The company may be acquired, or sold, or go out of business.
    • A great boss may leave for a new position — and maybe he wants you to come with him. Or maybe his replacement wants to bring in his own people.
    • Is there a lot of turnover in your current job or the company overall? Have there been rumors of layoffs, or did the company just lose a big contract? Both of these can signal a need for a resume update.
    • On the other hand, what if your company or department is doing very well? In that case, you may be contacted by competitors — or recruiters working for competitive companies — looking to hire you away from your current job.
  2. Your current employer may request a resume from you — for example, to include in a proposal the company is preparing for a new contract. It’s not uncommon for key personnel bios to be included in a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) or applications for grants.
  3. You want to apply for an internal promotion or transfer. You may not think a resume would be required, but often it is. An internal recruiter or a hiring manager in a different part of a big company isn’t going to be familiar with all the aspects of what you do, and even if they have access to the job description for your position, that won’t tell them about the specific contributions that you’ve made in your current role. It’s your job to quantify and document your achievements, and a resume is a good way to do that, even for an internal position.
  4. In preparation for your annual performance review, creating or updating your resume is a good strategy. Documenting your accomplishments will show your manager how you’ve added value to your position and department since your last review. The resume development process is also a good time for self-assessment.
  5. Outside of an employment context, you may also be asked for a resume if you’re going to be a speaker for an organization or an event, if you are being considered for a political or volunteer appointment, or if you are being considered for an award.
  6. Resumes are a networking tool. Someone you just met who is interested in learning more about you may ask for your résumé. This contact may help lead you to unadvertised job openings. In the same way, getting your resume in the hands of someone who knows you well can also lead to new opportunities. They can use the resume to pass along to other people who might be in a position to hire you, or to use as a “door opener” to introduce you to other people who might be useful in your career advancement.
  7. You’ve been recommended for a position you didn’t apply for online and have been invited for an interview. It is useful to have a well-organized, neatly formatted document to hand to the hiring manager at the beginning of an interview. The resume can also serve as “talking points” to guide the content of an interview. The time invested in compiling information on your credentials, skills, and accomplishments can also help prepare you for the job interview itself.

Why Update Your Resume Now?

The main reason to create and maintain an updated résumé is that it takes time to put a good resume together, whether you’re writing it yourself, or having a professional prepare it for you. A resume is not just an “obituary” of your work history. It’s a strategic marketing document that showcases your value to a prospective employer.

It’s easier to maintain a resume than to scramble to put one together, especially when a new opportunity arises and you need to give someone your résumé on short notice. Even if you don’t keep your resume fully updated, keep track of your accomplishments. Create a file folder to keep copies of emails or letters of appreciation from customers, co-workers, or your boss. You can also maintain an electronic record: forward “kudos” emails to your personal email address and email yourself notes about project specifics — especially scope-and-scale information like percentages, numbers, and dollar figures.

If you don’t have a resume, it’s time to get one; and if you have one, but it hasn’t been updated in a while, now is the time to bring it up to date. You never know when you might need your resume, and you want it ready when you do.