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In a Job Search, Freshness Counts

1 Dec, 2015

In a Job Search, Freshness Counts

With potential employers in mind…

Whether or not you post your resume on job boards or use other methods, you’d be wise to consider the philosophy that “freshness counts” in your job search.

If you think you can just post your resume online and leave it there for potential employers to find, you could be fooling yourself—in more ways than one. The facts are that (a) not all employers will look seriously on job boards, especially for senior-level candidates; and (b) you have substantial competition on those boards.

Why Freshness Matters

As if the competition weren’t bad enough, the currency (timeliness) of your posted resume can matter a lot. I recently read a comment from Jonathan Nugent, a fellow CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) who had been a recruiter for several years. He basically said that recruiters go by things like “Last Activity” or “Last Modified” when they’re searching for resumes. With regard to Monster.com, he stated: “Even though someone may be actively seeking employment, if they posted their resume 2 years [ago], chances are I’m not looking at it.”

Nugent recommended modifying/refreshing your resume somewhere between 7 and 90 days, depending on your industry. Otherwise, recruiters might overlook or miss you because your resume had been sitting on the job board for too long without any change.

He also noted that on Monster and Careerbuilder, the freshness search window runs between 90 and 180 days; if your resume was posted more than 90 days ago and a recruiter was looking back only 90 days, you wouldn’t show up in that search.

Freshness Isn’t the Only Thing

Keeping your resume current on the job boards is only one facet of using it to conduct your job search and not even the most important facet, at least partly because of its poor rate of return. In order for your resume to do its job effectively, you need to use it more actively. Waiting for recruiters to find you in a database of thousands of resumes does not constitute an active—or effective—job search.

By the time you reach the senior management/executive ranks, you should have had ample opportunity to develop a significant and strong professional network. Assuming you’ve had the foresight and commitment to do that, you can use your resume as a networking tool—to share both with people in your network and with those you meet going forward.

As an example, when you share your resume with selected people in your network, you could receive some constructive suggestions for improving it. For instance, a connection who knows your work might see you’ve left out something he/she knows you did that was important, which would enable you to strengthen the resume’s presentation of your value to employers.

The cautionary note here is that the resume you share should be up to date. That is, it should be as current as you can make it, rather than stopping before your last job or otherwise lacking information that should really be in it (such as additional education, certifications or professional affiliations you’ve acquired recently).

Resume Freshness & LinkedIn

For a truly effective job search, your resume does need to be as fresh as possible, but there’s another important consideration with regard to it. The resume and your LinkedIn profile need to be in sync with each other—not verbatim copies but matching up in all important, and even minor, details. You don’t want your resume to be current and your LinkedIn profile to be stale, or vice-versa.

Also, because participation in LinkedIn Groups has potential value in your job search, it might be a good idea to list key LinkedIn Groups you belong to on your resume under Affiliations. That doesn’t mean you should list every group—just the ones you’re most active in and that are potentially beneficial to your job search.

Freshness in Conducting an Active Job Search

Freshness matters in almost every respect, but particularly when you want to conduct an active job search versus a passive one—in other words, using a stronger approach than posting your resume on job boards or responding to postings you find online.

To pursue opportunities that might not be advertised yet (or in some cases might not exist officially yet), you need to actively work on establishing and/or strengthening your access to potentially valuable resources, such as contacts within companies you’d like to work for. Your resume should be in top shape for that.

An outdated or simply “old-appearing” resume will not help you achieve your goal. In fact, it might torpedo your chances for landing a great job.

Freshness Tip

Each time you start a job in a new company or gain a promotion within your current company, it’s important that you add the new information to your resume as soon as you can. You might not have much to add at first, but doing this will help you remember the importance of keeping your resume up to date.

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