How can I keep my CV up-to-date?
How often have you tried to put together a CV and had difficulty remembering the details of previous jobs? It's not just the dates of employment that you'll forget – tasks, projects and courses you were involved with are easily overlooked.
You obviously don't want to be redesigning your CV to incorporate every minor thing you do, but adding a quick bullet point when you think you're done something impressive or developed a new skill will allow you to retain the important information easily.
As you develop in your career, it's too easy to fall into the trap of simply adding your most recent job to your CV without considering how your experiences in past jobs may attract potential employers. You will have a much better idea now than when you originally wrote your CV of the sort of things employers are looking for, so tweak it accordingly to create a better first impression.
Always be aware of what employers are looking for, and translate your experiences and achievements into a language that will have an impact. For example, if you previously worked as an office junior, you weren't just “doing the filing”; you were “contributing to the day-to-day efficiency of the company”.
You might have added significantly to your people skills, where previously your CV was more angled towards your qualifications. As your experience develops, it's important to ensure that the balance of your CV presents the best reflection of the person you are now, the skills you have acquired or enhanced, and your potential value to a new employer.
Be willing to get harsh with the information already on your CV, and hack away the deadwood. As a general rule, if something is not actively adding value to your CV, it's almost certainly diminishing its impact. Be ruthless to make sure you are selling yourself as well as you possibly can.
If you're quite far into your career and think it's too late to get back the memories of things you did, try to get in touch with old managers to see if their recollection is any better than yours. Getting back in touch with them may also uncover an unexpected job opportunity.
How to get on the radar of potential employers
Just because you're comfortable where you are, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be ready to start job seeking at a moment notice. It's unfortunate, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control.
Once you're happy with how your CV looks and how relevant it is to your current situation, post it on job websites and send it to companies or organisations you'd like to work for on a speculative basis. This should be done at least every couple of months, or every time you've done something of major significance.
When you post your CV on Monster, you're automatically shifted to the top of the list so companies searching for someone with your skills will be able to find you easily. You can block certain companies from seeing your details so you can be assured your current employer won't stumble across your CV.
You never know when it's going to hit the desk at just the right time, and it never hurts to show a company you are interested in them. The more creative and proactive you are in getting your CV out there, the better your chance of catching your next employer's eye. They may add you to a talent pool of candidates if they don't currently have a position available.