I have a never-expiring calendar reminder for myself to update my portfolio. Otherwise I just won’t do it.
Make Yourself Do It
But it is surprisingly hard to make yourself do it even with a calendar reminder constantly dinging you. And unfortunately you only ever realize that you needed to do it – and didn’t – when you need your resume to be up to date when you are ready (or worse: when you aren’t ready) to move to the next gig.
This added pressure means that you are now going to be under the gun to send out your resume in a not quite up to date form, or you will struggle to remember all the cool new things you have done in the past many months.
It won’t be your best showing. You won’t likely have all the detail you once had. And ultimately you are doing a disservice to yourself when thinking about this late in the game.
Use LinkedIn As Your Source of Truth
A long time ago I stopped maintaining a resume in document form.
Before there was a LinkedIn it made sense to constantly toil over the formatting of my resume. And it made since to keep a copy and several backups.
I needed a consistent place to go to for the source of truth for my work history as there wasn’t one clear winner on the internet for such things. Back then I would keep a digital resume on Monster and various other job boards. It was a real hassle to keep them all up to date.
But now a days it is easy to keep your information in LinkedIn. It is now my source of truth.
I try to go there at least once a month to enter at least one cool thing I did that month. It might be something simple like solving a customer’s problem. Or something more complex like learning a new thing in a pinch prior to a sales call or speaking engagement.
Additionally you are missing the opportunity of someone looking for that special talent that you just picked up. You may make good money doing a bang-up job with that 80% thing you do. You run up against some new fancy way of doing things. And that becomes your new norm.
But you never update your resume.
As far as recruiters and other hiring managers know you are only really good at that 80% thing. There is no mention of your new go-to-favorite skill – which is what they really need right now and can’t find anywhere.
This is a missed opportunity for you in a couple of ways. The recruiter won’t contact you to let you know that your new skill is in high demand. Which means you miss out on the possibility of shifting to a new gig. Or, if you really like your job, but want to earn more, you might miss the opportunity to bargain around your newly found skill. Either way, this is your loss in the here and now.
So what sorts of things might you keep track of on LinkedIn? When you have a job, you can use LinkedIn as a running log of interesting facts. When you don’t have a job you can scour through your profile and clean out the things that aren’t really relevant any more. Let’s look at what sorts of things are hand to keep track of:
Title and Responsibility Changes
There are a couple ways of tracking when your title changes and when your responsibility changes. The first is the easiest and doesn’t require much thought. Keep one entry per company you work at. Update the title. List the existing responsibilities.
This is a great way to keep a short resume. And it is a great way to not tell your hiring manager about your history. This is where the difference between a traditional resume and a CV/Portfolio come in. When I am in the hiring manager role I like to see where a person has been and all the things at a high level they have done while at a company.
If you were a developer, then a team lead, then the architect, then the engineering director – list those out. They are very different jobs. They will have very different responsibilities. And being able to show that you have done them all is important to many hiring managers. It shows you are experienced.
We have interns at my current company. One of which we have had back three separate times. For a person like this it is very important to distinctly show that you came back at three different times. And detail out what you did on each occasion. This paints a different picture than someone who just worked somewhere with no timeline. It doesn’t show that we liked you so much that we kept hiring your back.
Business Goals Achieved
Business people, hiring managers, etc. – they don’t generally care that you learned the latest version of HTML. What they do care is that because of your mastery of this new version of HTML you were able to up the sales conversion of your check out process because more customers are able to complete the check out process on their phone and tablets.
Geeks really care that you were able to write a mail sending tool in 100 lines of unreadable code. But business folks care that your tool took into account the bounce rate of certain domains and the rules around how you stay off of black lists so that your email penetration goes up 30% which effectively increased their over all penetration resulting in X number of new dollars for the month.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You need to swizzle this in a manner that you salt and pepper your business swizzle with some tech babble so that all audiences are made happy. If you just deliver the business numbers uber geeks may find your resume wanting. Add appropriate tech talk to sell that you know what you are talking about.
Use the Right Voice to Tell the Right Story
Equally important to what you did is how you tell the story. It is very off-putting to read about a guy that is singing the me-me-me-me-me-me-meeeee song! It is ok for you to say “I used tech X to achieve business Y” now and then. But equally important is how you enabled the team to achieve a goal. Or how you pulled bugs for a week to get to zero defects (sacrificed your enjoyment for the team). Tell a story of being a valuable team member.
If you are in a leadership role tell the story of how you are a shit-umbrella vs. a shit-funnel. Give concrete examples of how you help you team get stuff done.
Bottom line: keep your portfolio up-to-date at all times. And LinkedIn is a great place to use for it.
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