The Surprising Connection Between Resumes and Obituaries

In a way, an obituary is the resume of a person's life. It contains details about their professional history, their accomplishments, and their contributions to the community.

The length of your obituary and the details it contains depend on you and what you do now. You've seen those obituaries that simply list a person's name, profession, family, and place of death, but you've also seen those impressive obituaries that are very long and full of accomplishments and contributions to the community.

Which type of obituary do you want to leave behind? Your resume, in a sense, will provide the information used in your obituary. If you don't like your resume, it's time to take a hard look in the mirror.

When was the last time you reviewed your resume? Is it still current? Do you even have a copy of your resume saved on your computer, or was it lost when your computer crashed?

Most stop thinking about their resumes once they've landed a new job and settled in. This is a huge mistake. I recommend you review your resume quarterly. This will help you stay on the path to success.

When you're doing that quarterly review, here are five sections to pay special attention to:

1. Contact Information

Is it current? If you are still using Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL as your email provide, you should update to Gmail or Outlook. If you're still using your first email address ever, you're dating yourself and showing a lack of professionalism. Furthermore, these addresses are often associated with spam. You want your email opened.

2. Key Accomplishments

What are your three biggest accomplishments? When was the last time you updated this section? If it has been several years and you have not made a new, significant contribution to your employer or community in that time, you need to design a career strategy to upgrade the value you provide.

An easy way to ensure you do not forget significant contributions you make is to take time at the end of each day or week to review what went well at work and what did not. Use this time to think about how you can improve processes, revamp a system, design a script, etc. Your goal is to be able to quantify the results of your actions in terms of dollars, percentages, or numbers.

Quantifying what you have done each day, week, or month will also prepare you for future performance appraisals. Supervisors rarely see everything you do; they may not know the actual value you contribute. You need to be able to prove the value you provide to the company.

3. Relevant Skills

Are these still relevant? Do a quick job search to see what skills employers want today. Reading through current job posts will alert you to whether or not you need to enroll in continuing education classes or gain new certifications in order to stay competitive. If you do, note that many community colleges offer programs to help you. You should also check with professional organizations to which you belong to see if they offer any relevant training or seminars.

4. Job History

Do you have jobs listed that are more than 10 years old? If they are no longer relevant, it is time to remove them.

Are your current job duties accurate? Have you listed your latest accomplishments with quantified results? Review your last performance appraisal to see if there are new bullets to add to your resume.

5. Volunteer Work

Are you contributing to your community? I highly recommend you give back to your community for many reasons besides the fact that it looks good on your resume. Volunteering is often a great way to network with others who share your values, and networking is key to career success.

Remember: Networking isn't about you. It is about you helping and providing value to others. When you help others, they will reciprocate.

After you have updated your resume, remember to update your LinkedIn profile as well!

When you review your resume, do you like what you see? If not, it's time to change it. You have the power to improve your situation. How do you want to be remembered? You probably want to be remembered for doing a great job. Plus, your employer will want to keep you if you provide value.

In the military, we used the term "retired on active duty," or "ROAD" to describe people who were dead weight. They showed up to work but did nothing because they knew they were headed out the door. Do not be a ROAD. Show up each day ready to contribute to the organization.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.