Before marching into 2015 and leaving this year in the dust, I would encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your top achievements and “wow” moments. None of us had a perfect year, and being mindful of where we fell short is important too. Fortunately though, we get to pick what we do (and don’t) highlight on our resumes to market ourselves in the best possible light.
Whether you are actively looking for a job or not, reflecting on the past year’s successes will reenergize you for the year to come. Plus, your future self will thank you for taking the time to gather these essential details should the need for an up-to-date resume arise unexpectedly.
An internet search for “reflection exercises” will mostly bring you tips for educators, but many (such as this 20-question list from Minds in Bloom) can be adapted for a professional’s retrospective. Find a quiet spot, ready your laptop or pen and pad, and reflect on the following (I would suggest a freewriting approach):
- What critical objectives did you meet/exceed and how?
- What are the top 3–5 projects you are the most proud of completing in 2014?
- What new skills did you learn this year? What existing skills did you strengthen?
- How were you recognized for your accomplishments? A promotion/new job title? A formal award?
- How have your day-to-day responsibilities changed/grown?
- What major changes/challenges occurred in your department, and how did you overcome them?
- How did you help others in the company shine?
- What new initiatives did you contribute to?
- How would your direct reports, colleagues, and/or supervisors describe your year?
- Have your career aspirations changed? If so, why?
If your employer completes annual performance reviews, you may have already documented a majority of these things and can further reflect on a more personal level. Either way, capturing your key accomplishments at the end of each year (or even better, as they happen) will make it far less overwhelming and time-consuming to update your resume in the future.