Why the Self-employed Need a Resume

When was the last time you looked at your resume? Do you even have one?

Before you stop reading because hey, you're a successful business owner and you don't need no stinkin' resume, consider the following points:

  • The local chamber of commerce has just named you Employer of the Year.
  • Your industry council invites you to be the featured speaker at the next convention.
  • Your business is booming and you need a bank loan to finance your expansion.
  • You're on the short list of people who will be featured on an upcoming national podcast or webinar.
  • You want to be a presenter at a TED Talk.

If you had to send off an up-to-date resume to these people right this minute, detailing your work and community history, could you do it?

If you're like most people, the answer would be "no."

For all the circumstances listed above, wouldn't it be better to have something ready to send out at a moment's notice?

Keeping our resumes updated also can serve as a great reminder as to what we've accomplished lately. We are often so buried in the daily grind, caught up with problems that arise, that the memory of our sweet victories is short-lived. Having your resume up to date will help you keep track of those accomplishments and give you the chance to appreciate all that you've done.

It's a great pat on the back -- a reminder of your own worth. That's always good for the soul.

Here are some tips on how to revamp your resume, or build a new one.

1. Do not overwrite your old resume. This is rule No. 1. Why? As you tweak and improve your resume, some accomplishments or job duties will naturally fall off. At least right now. There may come an occasion where you will need to revisit earlier resumes to pull out old job titles and dates in order to provide the targeted information you are asked to give. I've got more than 30 resumes in my computer files, dating back to 2002. And yes, they have been helpful when I needed to mine them for specific information.

2. Update it once a month. You will want to weed out some old stuff, or condense it, but your primary goal is to keep up with your short-term achievements. Say you've led a new product development team to a successful conclusion, or you've taken some online training. Put them in.

3. Give it a sharp focus. Everything in it should be tailored to your specific purpose, whether it's to get the job of a lifetime to provide information for your acceptance speech. That means, of course, that even if you have something you've just updated, you'll have to adjust it for your present needs. And that's so much easier to do when the rest of it is ready to rock 'n' roll. P.S. It also makes a great foundation for short bios.

4. You're resume has 1 minute to make an impression. This holds true whether you are a first-time job-seeker or if you want to be a conference speaker. It needs to be clear and functional. Make it attractive without going over the top. It's a resume, not a circus poster.

5. Organize it around your skills and accomplishments, instead of a chronological listing of jobs you've held or a list of job duties. This is particularly important if you are moving from one industry to another, where expertise in one field doesn't easily translate to another.

6. Check your work. Proofread, spell-check and get others -- preferably people who are not in your industry who can spot the mind-numbing jargon -- to look it over. And then do it all again.

7. Be brief but thorough. This is not a tell-all book. Get in all the pertinent information and go back to condense once you've got it all down.

8. Watch out for personal details. Most of us know this, but here's another reminder: Don't give your height, weight, age, date of birth, marital status, sex, ethnicity/race, health, sexual orientation, Social Security number, religious affiliation, salary, political party or anything else that could be considered controversial. If you do volunteer work for your church, it may be better to say "volunteer in a soup kitchen" rather than "serve on the 354th XYZ Church homeless committee." Let the circumstances be your guide on that.

What's one big thing you need to add to -- or delete -- from your resume? I'd love to hear!