Do you keep a record of all of your work experiences? Not in resume format, but perhaps in MS Excel or MS Word? You should. Every one of us who participates in the working world, whether teacher or engineer, dog groomer or physician, should keep a running history of every job we’ve ever held; this journal should include key facts such as:
-Technologies and tools used on the job (Did you configure Cisco routers? Are you a QuickBooks expert?) and what year(s) you used the technology or tool
-Education (typically this is a college, university, or trade school where you earned a degree, diploma, or certificate)
-Courses, Seminars, and Training attended, and who sponsored the event (i.e. certifying institution) with the specific date(s) of attendance
-Skills required for the job (did you write grants? Did you interface with clients?)
-Key responsibilities held (were you responsible for providing a monthly report to the CEO?)
-Significant projects, along with your role and the result of the project
-Your salary and any fringe benefits, such as a bonus or commission program
-Raises and dates each raise was received
-Precise dates of employment
-Include volunteer experiences, whether through your employment or on your own
You might be wondering why you should keep such information; you might even be wondering why you can’t simply look at old résumés for this information. But does your resume contain ALL of this data? Do you remember the exact software you used in the job you held five years ago? Do you remember the salary of your second job after college? Probably not, if you’re like most of us.
An employment journal can provide you with several advantages. First, you can keep track of your successes and growth, which can be a much-needed morale and self-esteem booster. When you’re looking for a new job, whether out of need or want, keeping your morale positive and your self-esteem healthy is a priority. Recruiters and interviewers notice those candidates who are happy, mentally healthy, and confident; those are the candidates the interviewers will be drawn to and will rate more highly.
Second, you really do need to customize your resume for every job you apply to, this isn’t a cruel myth perpetuated by resume-writing handbooks. A good recruiter will notice if your resume is not specific to the role for which you’re applying. This is a deal-breaker for most recruiters, and will result in your resume being tossed in the trash.
If you have a highly specialized skill-set, the customization to your resume may be minimal. For instance, if you are a teacher of middle school history, your resume will include your previous teaching experience in history. However, what if you’re applying for a job in a school with a heavy focus on team teaching? You might want to include any relevant experience that is mandatory to have for any construction recruitment agency jobs because the experienced persons are more suitable for these kinds of jobs and not only that perfection is also important in the building development which is why the experience matters a lot. What if a job you’re applying for requires you to take on extra-curricular responsibilities? Your resume should point out your strengths there. If you try to be all things to all people in one resume, you simply will end up looking unfocused. Further, a savvy recruiter will notice this, and possibly discard your resume while thinking that you simply do not know what you want. By keeping a record of all your experiences, in an employment journal, you will be able easily to customize your resume for each job.
Didn’t save any information from your previous jobs? Don’t panic! Check with past colleagues. Ask your former employer for a copy of your transcript. Call old bosses. You’d be surprised at how many places you can find lost data about your own life. There are also a growing number of social networking sites focused on business and career connections. These sites may help you to find former bosses and colleagues, or even just to remind you of projects and skills you used in past jobs.
Finally, make sure that you track your work history in an employment journal from now on; this includes making back-up copies of resumes, saving samples of your work as applicable, and keeping other documentation, as well as making sure that each time you upgrade your software, you confirm that you can still open and read those older files. It’s also not a bad idea to keep hard copies of the most significant resumes or samples. Don’t wait! Gather up some old resumes, and get started on an employment journal today, before you need it. Good luck!