The new year is a traditional time to take stock of your life, set new goals, and make new years resolutions – both personal and professional. Many people decide to look for a new job, or work for a promotion – often, unfortunately, prompted by the realization that even after a few (or many) extra days off around the holidays, the excitement and interest that used to accompany the idea of going to work has become boredom, ennui, or dread. Others decide that it is time to go back to school or work towards a certification.
An updated resume is a useful, or even critical, step toward achieving many of these goals. A potential employer will almost certainly want to see a resume and advanced certifications and educational programs also regularly require them. Also, it is a good time to record any professional goals or achievements from the prior year while they are fresh in your mind – new skills, changes in your position, key projects, and new certifications all may have a place on your resume. If you have a goal or mission statement on your resume, that is a likely update candidate as well.
I'm not an expert on technical resumes. In fact, I feel like resume writing is something I'm fairly bad at. I will pass on two things I learned on hiring committees. First make sure that you have good spelling and grammar, otherwise you have earned your resume an express trip to the no thanks pile. Second, make sure that your resume and cover letter show some evidence that you can actually do the job in language the companies you are hiring for will understand. If you have worked most of your life in mainframe shops and are applying to a Windows shop, you need to make sure that you describe your past positions in terms that will make sense to Windows users.
Being bad at writing technical resumes is a common failing of technical professionals. This isn't surprising since it generally has very little to do with the skills we use to do our jobs. I highly recommend that you get help, preferably professional help, with your resume. If you have recently had your resume professional done, are just updating your resume for record keeping purposes, or know that you will only be using it informally (such as giving it to a friend who will give it to a technical hiring manager who is used to poor quality techie written resumes), you may be able to get away with just having a friend or colleague look it over. If you are using your resume for academic or certification purposes, you may be able to get someone from your employer's human resources department to assist you. Recent graduates may find their school's career center to be a good source of professional help as well. However, in most cases, you should probably get help from a professional resume writer or service. Be sure to use someone with experience with technical resumes. I recommend asking people you know in positions similar to those you aspire to for recommendations. Remember too that producing a resume counts as a tax deductible job hunting expense even if you don't find a new job, so any fees are in pre-tax dollars if you itemize.
Once you have an updated resume, you are ready to pursue your new goals and any opportunities that may come up. Remember to keep your resume up to date and may you have a prosperous new year full of exciting opportunities.