Updating Your Resumé or CV is an Important Obligation . . . to Yourself

By Clanitra Stewart Nejdl

When I ask other law librarians when they last updated their resumés or CVs, the response is usually a groan or sheepish look that indicates “It’s been too long” or “I have no idea.” It’s understandable that with all the other responsibilities we handle, this task might seem like it can wait until later. However, I encourage you to prioritize updating your resumé or CV for several reasons: 

  • You never know what position you will find, or what position will find you.
Resume on a laptop.
Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

Imagine this: You receive a call from the Director of a law library you’d love to work for. The Director has heard of your great work in the field, has a position opening up, and would love to interview you for the position. You enthusiastically tell her that you will be applying ASAP! She asks if you can email her your CV within the next day or so.

Well, can you? How long would it take you to have your CV in shape to send out? Would you be able to add your most recent accomplishments easily or would you need to dig through copious amounts of paperwork and calendar entries to make sure you included everything? How far back would you have to go to get everything updated?

Consider a different scenario: you discover a job posting on a listserv. Although you had no intention of seeking a new position at this time, you find that the description of the position really appeals to you. Unfortunately, you discovered the posting towards the end of the search period, and you only have a day or two in which to submit your application and resumé. Would you be able to apply in a timely manner or would you end up missing out on a potentially great opportunity because you didn’t have time to get your resumé in order? 

Life brings unexpected opportunities, and you must be prepared to maximize those opportunities when they arise. Regularly updating your resumé or CV is one step you can take to position yourself for success.

  • Resumés and CVs are not just for job-hunting

It is a misconception that an up-to-date resumé or CV is only needed for job-hunting. There are other circumstances in which a current resumé or CV might be requested. For example, applications for awards or grants often require the inclusion of a resumé or CV with the application. Additionally, some organizations require the submission of these documents to evaluate the individual’s suitability for a leadership position within the organization, on a committee, or on a task force. If you view a resumé or CV as needed only for job-hunting, you are taking too narrow a view of their importance for your professional success. 

  • Your resumé/CV informs others of your accomplishments.

Is your position one where your resumé or CV is published on your organization’s website? Such is frequently the case with many academic law librarian positions and may also be the case with other types of law librarianship. If you haven’t taken the time update your resumé or CV, then you almost certainly haven’t provided an updated document to be published on your organization’s website. As a result, when someone looks up your information, they are not getting an accurate reflection of who you are professionally and what you have accomplished. Consider the impression that an outdated resumé or CV gives to the public, as opposed to one that showcases your most recent accomplishments. 

Your professional reputation can be affected as much by what people think you haven’t done as what they think you have done. Make others aware of your most recent accomplishments by taking the time to include them in your resumé or CV.

  • Taking stock in what you have accomplished is important.

For so many of us, impostor syndrome, fear of underachieving, and general uncertainty can lead us to underestimate the quantity and quality of our achievements. Is a presentation to a local stakeholder worth promoting in the same way you would promote a presentation at a national conference? Is the website or LibGuide you created really worth adding to your resumé or CV? Does the column you published in a SIS newsletter or chapter publication actually count as scholarship?

The answer to these questions is “yes!” Your resumé or CV is useful for many reasons, but don’t underestimate how adding each award, presentation, publication, or other accomplishment serves to build your own confidence in your career and your abilities. Seeing all of your accomplishments listed in front of you can remind you of how much you have done. It can also help you set goals for things you want to accomplish in the future. If you don’t take stock in what you have done, however, it will be difficult for you to figure out what you need to do next.

Above all, regularly updating your resumé/CV is something you should do for yourself. As time passes, it can become easier and easier to forget what needs to be added to it, as well as the specific details about that addition. Regularly updating these documents as soon as you have completed a project, activity, or publication ensures that none of your accomplishments will be overlooked or undervalued. You are worth the time it takes and you deserve the success it will bring.

Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. Their essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.