The Easiest Ways to Keep Your Resume Updated

All right, ladies, let’s hear it: what are your best tips and tricks for keeping your resume updated?  I’ve read a lot about checking for typos (vital!!!), using action words, and targeting your resume for the job you’re applying for (some say you should even use keywords from the job description itself!).  My one resume “trick” deals with the time before all of that — that sometimes dark, sometimes optimistic act of sitting down and figuring out what’s new to put on your resume.  I’ve always found it to be a bit overwhelming and one of the key places I procrastinate when starting the job hunt process. So here’s my trick (which may be totally basic!):

I keep a running tally of my accomplishments, and only worry about making it typo-free/action word oriented/keyword friendly when I’m actually applying for a job.

This has helped in a couple of regards:  it’s given me a jumping off place when I’ve sat down to think about my resume.  If I’ve been pondering who to ask for recommendations, it’s highlighted who I’ve worked with on major projects.  It’s sometimes even highlighted gaps in my resume — accomplishments I really wish I had.  And, last but not least, it’s given me a nice list to go back to when I’ve felt “stuck” in my career, like I haven’t made any progress.

The list doesn’t have to be fancy — I’ve kept them in my Palm Pilot (or, now in the B-Folders app that replaced my Palm), in Microsoft Word, even in rough drafts of my resume itself.

Readers, how do you update your resume?  What process do you go through?  How often do you update it when you’re not actively looking for a job? 

Currently pictured: Deposit Photos / belchonock.easy ways to keep your resume updated - image of resume Originally pictured (2014): Resume – glasses, originally uploaded to Flickr by Flazingo.

What are the easiest, least painful ways to keep your resume updated? We've rounded up our best advice and tips on keeping resumes updated, so you're ALWAYS ready for a great job application!


  1. I keep a deal sheet current, because I am transactional. And when I do something new, I make a note of that skill in a special file. I don’t believe that resumes should be laundry-lists, so I don’t necessarily add new skills automatically. But it is a good reminder that I have done X before, and future employers might look for that, or, if I am tailoring my resume a certain way, I will have a few already-cherry-picked examples.

    • That’s an excellent idea. I’m 6 months into a transactional role and think this would be great… being able to keep track of my deal volume in terms of number of deals, dollar amount and square footage (I’m in real estate). When it comes time for interviews, which hopefully won’t be any time soon, those are great data points that could definitely move the needle in a conversation.

      • Did you move from litigation into commercial real estate? I’m looking to make a similar move myself but can’t figure out how to market myself to make the transition (I’ve done a little bit of transactional work, but not very much). Do you have any advice?

    • I agree with MJ’s idea’s. My practice is NOT transactional, but In litigeation, I have a laundry list of cases and some of them are UNIQUE or Memorable, and some are even written up in Misc. Reports (a NY case book). So I also keep list’s of those case’s and have it ready in case I have to use my resume, which lately is NOT that important that I am a PARTNER, except I still use the resume to give it to the peeople organising the CLE’s b/c the head guy alway’s read’s from my resume before the manageing partner present’s. In fact last time, I got to present! Yay!

      In addition to list’s, it is VERY important to maintain a copy (updated) of your resume in MS Word Format, b/c lot’s of places want your resume in TEXT SEARCHEABLE for, which mean’s you can NOT use PDF or TIF or any of the other dumb program’s that make the resume unsearcheable.

      So when the recureiter’s ask for text searcheable, do NOT send PDF’s. I learned that way back in law school. Yay for law school. Who knew that I would become such a word processing expert. That is all I do now is copy and paste all day. But somebody’s got to do it and it might as well be me. YAY!!!

  2. Meg Murry :

    One place I go for items to add to my resume is my reviews, since they are usually done electronically – or the running list I try to keep in order to use on my annual reviews.
    For me one of the hardest things to pin down is the concrete, hard numbers details recommended for a resume (project XYZ saved the company $A.B million dollars over C years!) since I’m not usually good at promoting myself that way, so I try to jot those down in my list as the projects happen or as I’m asked to make the cost saving projections.

  3. Keeping a Master resume that gets updated regularly whether it’s after starting a new job or completing a certain project that you think deserves it’s own entry. The Master resume is just mine, to keep a tally, so that when I am applying for a new position I can refer to it and pick only those things that are relevant to what I’m applying for. I suppose this also goes for personal websites. Most of those here seem to be lawyers, not sure how common it is to have one. But in other fields such as higher education it is, for me the same rules apply in keeping it updated.

    • I do this, though my Master resume is currently my LinkedIn profile. I’m still early enough in my career that there’s not loads of stuff on there, but soon I’ll have to prune it and then put everything in a word doc

  4. What font do you use? I recently updated my resume in Garamond, and it looks nice.

    • I like a sans serif font, personally. I used Garamond for years, though.

  5. I’ve recently had to do this and a few things helped:
    – my list of current projects – fill in current roles and responsibilities
    – my workload matrix – what types of projects take up my time that aren’t directly technical in nature
    – my staff workload – what am I managing and what am I responsible for

    While my deliverables aren’t necessarily pieces of papers with nice designs on them, I do spend my time doing SOMETHING. I just have to write that down.

  6. I try to use statistics and numbers as much as possible. Rather than “exceeded expectations” (which I see on a million resumes) I use specifics, like delivered the event 20% under budget with a 10% increase in attendance.

    • This. Plus number of people you managed, and the size of your budget or the earnings of your business unit, etc.

  7. In my current position, we do employee reviews every 6 months – there’s an annual one that ties into salary increases, and then a mid-year where we talk about goals and trainings. For both of these I have to assemble a list of accomplishments, so I have that info a hand. Whenever I feel like I’ve accomplished a resume-worthy thing, or that my job has shifted enough to note the changes, I go in and tweak the current version of my resume, and also my linkedin profile. My linkedin profile is an abstracted version of my resume.

  8. In-House Europe :

    I (like all other dept heads) submit reports on work done on at least a monthly basis. When it’s time to start looking I can just pick from the list.

    For those in-house – how do you deal with confidential issues? “Avoided getting sued” just doesn’t seem quite right… I assume for law firm you can just leave the client out but when you are in-house your client is pretty clear…

  9. This is my process exactly! I use the resulting list for resumes, internal applications, and end of year reviews. The only other thing I have to add is that I also keep a single file of key work products, in case asked to provide examples. (I’m an engineer.)

  10. I keep an “Everything Resume” which includes all my education starting in college, all my experience including volunteering and work from when I was in middle school (only because this list started accumulating when I was applying for college), and when I make a new resume, I pull out the experiences and education components out of the resume so I don’t forget things like locations, names, dates, etc.

    I update whenever I “accomplish” something, so to speak – graduate, earn an award, get published, finish a major case, etc.

  11. hoola hoopa :

    For my field, I have a scientific CV.

    In previous positions, I added all publications and presentations to sort of a running draft of my CV every time I (or a colleague) was accepted. For my current position, I have to report it as part of my annual eval, so I just do it then. I don’t keep them all (primarily presentations) on my final, but I like to have them all somewhere. Awards etc I add as received.

  12. I start my resume from scratch after every new job title. I consider the next job I would like to do and then assess the sections on my resume based on that. If a previous achievement, work experience, internship does not contribute towards getting closer to that next job, then I remove it. I can always bring it up during interviews.
    Also, I browse through LinkedIn profiles for the job function I am targeting and get inspiration from the different descriptions.
    For achievements, I have a folder called “bragbook” and I copy in it my significant achievements throughout the year.
    Bizarrely, I go through my resume after very tough meetings, because on these days I might feel like quitting.

  13. My rule of thumb is to update my resume once a year, with every job change, or with every change in job title. Additionally, I keep a running list of accomplishments every month. This not only allows me to remember what I’ve done during performance review time, but it also gives me something to refer back to when updating my resume.