SURVEY SAYS: When Did You Last Update Your Resume?

April 22, 2010 ( - I was commenting to a friend recently about something I heard years ago that your resume should always be current – but not “too” current. 

This week I asked readers when they last updated their resume – and why.

As for the when – well, a plurality (19%) said they had done so in 2009, while nearly 13% had done so since January 1 of this year.  It might be worth nothing that 6.3% said they had done so in the last week.

Other responses:

  • 9.5% – in the last month
  • 11.1% – sometime in 2008
  • 14.3% – sometime before 2008

One-in-twelve couldn’t’ remember – and the remaining 19% (who opted for “other”) were mostly in the sometime before 2008….though most of them would have perhaps been more properly placed in the sometime WAY before 2008 category. 

Now, I did ask readers not only when, but why they updated their resume:

  • 46% - were looking for a new job
  • 20.6% - a new job came looking for them
  • 14.3% - just make a point of keeping it up to date

Among the remaining one-in-five who opted for “other” was the following:

The company I worked for was acquired by another company, so I added the new company name and my new title.

My employer requires us to update it at least twice a year.

Thought I should look at it to see what's on there.

I was preparing as though I might a be casualty of the panic of '08.

Was posting on a board for a professional organization.

Request from current employer.

Not looking hard for a new job, but for the first time in 26 years, considering changing jobs if I found the right one.

Wanted to ready should I be caught up in the RIF.

I'd changed jobs within the company

I have to provide a resume for my second job (teaching at the university) which shows that I remain professionally qualified through my first job

I was up for an award and had to provide a current resume as part of the process.  But hey, now it's ready if I find I can no longer take the insanity of my current job and want to make a move.  That day may be soon!

Interested in doing part time work in addition to my current FT position.

I asked readers – assuming they could lay their hands on a copy – how long their resume was. 

Most – 50.8% - said theirs was two pages long.  Half as many, but still a robust 28.6% - had a crisp one-pager.  More than one-in-eight (12.7%) said theirs stretched to three pages.

As for the rest – well, they had “no earthly idea.”

There were some interesting comments on the subject, including:

I am amazed at the number of business professionals who cannot create a reasonable resume that highlights their skills in light of whatever job they are seeking.  So many of my colleagues who were laid off recently basically list their past JOBS and not their CURRENT SKILLS.  They just don't get it.

Interesting change in the way resumes seem to be viewed today. I had mine reviewed and was told that a 25 year employment record with only two companies suggested a lack of initiative and willingness to be challenged. Imagine that, in our world of benefits & pension administration.

Our company was going through a rough patch coming out of bankruptcy and I was concerned about the viability of my job in a merger, so I applied for and got another job.  Suddenly, I was offered a $10,000/year promotion and $15,000 in retention payments over a 12 month period. I'm still here, and that move jump started some great rewards over the last few years.  If I felt underappreciated, I would do the same thing all over again.

I hate  It is a pain to have to set up.

Good way to track your accomplishments, but probably a waste of time.

I'm tired of all the same old buzz words on resumes.  I read an article the other day about putting in examples of those buzz words instead of using them and I think I'll redo my resume that way.  I like that idea. There is so much conflicting advice on the web about resumes.  It's hard to know which route to go.

When I graduated from college, 20 years ago, I was told by a partner at E&Y that you should always have your resume updated.  That one piece of advice has been useful more than once over the years.  As a matter of fact, I was just asked for my resume by a complete stranger last week.

Think about what you want to do before you write it.  Design it so that it highlights skills necessary for the job you want which may not be the job you have had.

Resumes are reviewed to eliminate people who don't match the requirements of a position.

My whole career has been a series of unexpected opportunities that sounded like they'd be fun (and they were).  If my resume hadn't always been up to date I  could not have responded quickly to those opportunities.  I can't imagine I could have enjoyed things as much as I have if I hadn't been on this path -- twisted though it has been.

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"At the present, I have been quite forthcoming in listing dates that make it very easy for a prospective employer to determine my actual age, which is 55.  However, I am also beginning to suspect that this is working against me in my job search, and I am considering the need to obscure this information on my resume in the future. 

It appears that we still haven't really solved the problem of age discrimination in our society.  It is a curious thing that organizations are fine with the idea of hiring a 35 year old that they know will probably leave within 3-5 years, but will quickly cull the resume of an older worker because they're near the end of their career.  Does that really make any sense?

If you've worked in HR for any period of time, you have probably seen this happen.  You might have even done this yourself without really thinking about it.  Be forewarned, you will likely find yourself in the this same situation at some point in your career.  Good luck with that."

From the Resumes,try to figure out who can walk on water

They are about the funniest reading I can think of.

From the recruiting side, people often leave out dates and what their company does, only focusing on their accomplishments (I am always amazed at how someone changed the world in 6 months!).  Also, resumes which come through job boards are often impossible to read because of formatting.

As someone who has hired a lot of people over the years, I would say that fancy resumes don't impress me.  Long resumes, especially those that detail accomplishments from the last century, are irritating.  And if your dream job is to be a "consultant", you've told me nothing of value.

Resumes are wonderful devices for allowing people who lack solid ability to shine on paper.  Yeah, I'm a bit cynical after 20 years as a hiring manager.

I have held three jobs since 1989 and was hired for all three positions without a resume.

Woefully few are done well.  Online applications these days take away any personalized formats, which I think is sad.

(More on the following page)

Resumes should be up-to-date as a reminder of accomplishments, truthful as a reality check, and edited as a communication tool.

I've had many people tell me they lie on their resumes; I wouldn't think of it, probably because I would get caught.

It's part of the game we all have to play. Now that I'm in the position to help decide who gets interviewed for openings in my group, my views on resumes have changed a bit. I'm pretty skeptical & have gotten a reputation for very detailed questioning of what our prospective employees put in their resumes.

I'm really hoping that this is the last stop. I don't want to update my resume and jinx it.

After 30 years in HR, I'm sure glad my 401 (k) is improving, because I'm tired.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said “I can help anyone build a great resume, but I have difficulty making myself one and looking good on paper (I suck at tooting my own horn).”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey (and you for reading about it here)!