Updating Your Resume Is Not the First Step to a New Job

updating your resumeUpdating your resume is not the best first step when you start a job search.

First, you have to be clear about what you want to do and what you are skilled at. I have said this before, and I am going to say it again – I despise resumes. They are historical. In other words, your resume only shows what you’ve done in the past.

A resume does not show what you can do now. Nor does it necessarily show what you want to do next.

Updating Your Resume Too Soon: A Bad Idea

In today’s search for work, it is a waste of time to construct a resume without a job posting to reply to. After all, if your resume doesn’t contain exactly the right keywords, it won’t show up in a recruiter’s search within ATS (applicant tracking system). You need to understand how an ATS works.

Consider the job posting the RFP (request for proposal).  Your resume will be the proposal.  Your resume should only address the critically important requirements of the job, using as much of the job posting’s language as possible.

But What About the Cover Letter?

Yes, your cover letter may include some of the same things, but who knows if or when the cover letter will be read.  If recruiters/HR/hiring managers are too busy to read the resume, what makes you think they will have time to read your cover letter?  Some always do, others never will. Don’t count on your cover being read.

Instead, start your job search by answering this question.

What Do You Want to Do?

A potential client asked for a meeting. He wanted help with his resume. Before I even looked at it I asked him “What do you want to do?”

He said, “I am an Engineer.”

“OK, but that wasn’t my question, what do you want to do?” I asked.

He thought for a while then replied, “I have been an engineer my whole life.”

I asked him if he enjoyed his work.

“It has supported me and my family.”

Then I asked him again if he enjoyed it and he admitted, “For the most part.”

“Life is short” I reminded him.

“You now have the opportunity to do something that you love, or at least brings you great joy.  You have lost your job and have been given permission to re-evaluate how you spend the rest of your working life.”

This was the question he hadn’t asked himself.  It was hard.

What Are You Proud Of?

I believe he did enjoy being an Engineer at one point in his career, but he was no longer passionate about his work.

As I read the laundry list of job duties on his resume, I wasn’t able to learn anything about him from these duties.

That led me to ask him to tell me about something in his recent past he was proud of. After a long pause, he told me a story. And as he told the story, I saw his eyes twinkle and a smile came across his face.

Now I could begin working on his resume. In his story, I heard his skills and hidden strengths. This is when I saw a glimpse of his passion.

Start Your Search by Recalling Your Stories

Start writing down the times you felt proud of your work.  These are the stories that you can use to find your future path. We call those accomplishments. And by the way, these accomplishment stories will be used when updating your resume. So, it’s worth your time doing this exercise.

Use this list of questions to clear away the cobwebs and remember the times you’ve loved what you were doing. Reignite the passion you felt for the work you did and begin searching for jobs that allow you to use your strengths!

Start a job search by knowing what you are great at doing and what you enjoy doing.

From there, you can begin investigating jobs that will allow you to use these skills in an environment that fits what you need!


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at:


career sherpa


Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!






This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.