5 Reasons Why Veterans Should Always Have an Updated Resume on Hand

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(U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Thomas Swanson)

As you prepared to exit the military, you worked on your resume. Regardless of whether you were pursuing employment, entrepreneurship, additional schooling or planned to spend your days on the golf course, you focused on capturing your experiences, credentials and abilities in a resume -- paying particular attention to exportable skills. 

If you found a job, started a business, enrolled in school or dusted off the golf clubs, you might think you're done with the resume for now. Think again.

What if you walked into your office tomorrow and received a notice that the company was shutting down? What if another employer asked you to interview for a fabulous job? What if you decided to sell your company and do something different? What if school didn't pan out and you need to look for work? And what if the golf course didn't fulfill you as much as you anticipated?

Having an updated resume on hand is valuable for many reasons, including:

1. Your current employment situation could change drastically. Companies perform "reduction in workforce" measures sometimes, wherein talented and valuable employees are suddenly looking for new jobs, sometimes with little notice. Having an updated and current resume available gives you the opportunity to start looking quickly for something new.

2. Your job could change -- and not to your liking. What if the company is acquired by a competitor and now your work looks different? While you enjoyed your team and the initiatives you led before, you aren't excited about the new parent company and want to begin to look for something else. Feeling a sense of urgency can make it more difficult to remember all the elements needed to be updated on your resume.

3. You could want to pursue volunteerism that requires a resume. To join a board of directors or committee of a nonprofit, they may request your resume to see your qualifications and past experiences as part of their evaluation process.

4. Your business venture is ready to take on investors. Anyone looking to give you money will likely want to see an overview of your past. Your resume is one tool investors will use to determine your investment-worthiness as an entrepreneur.

5. Applying to graduate school or specialty training programs often requires a resume as part of the application process. While undergraduate schools may be more lenient with a candidate's work experience, higher education facilities often look to see what previous academic and work history a candidate brings to the program.

What Should You Update on Your Resume?

As you refresh and add to your resume, focus on:

  • Career milestones and accomplishments 
  • Awards and recognition received (for your work or community involvement)
  • Measurable results -- quantify what you've done and the measurable impact to the company or organization
  • Leadership opportunities -- note times when you led a project or managed an initiative
  • New skills, talents or abilities gained 
  • Credentials, degrees or certifications earned
  • Your contact information: Has your address or cell phone number changed?
  • Remove outdated or irrelevant jobs, experiences or skills as your career focus becomes more clear

Consider how hard it would be to go back five years and remember what you were doing and what some of those successes were. If you can get into the habit of updating your resume each time you achieve a goal, accomplish a new milestone or learn a new skill, you will be able to produce a current resume quickly. 

The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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