CV update – Why you should do it on holiday

  • CV update – Why you should do it on holiday

Early years consultant James Hempsall explains why you should update your CV on holiday…

We should all have a current CV, whether or not we intend to change our job or take on additional roles. CVs should be an as-live record of you and your career. You should do a CV update routinely.

This is something we often say, but less frequently achieve. This is because life and work can get in the way.  Without a fixed deadline, it’s all too easy to overlook a task.

However, it’s essential practice to stop for a few moments and to consider what your CV is saying, and what is missing.  But why?   

Unexpected opportunity

A CV update gives you a reflection opportunity to acknowledge, recognise and celebrate your achievements, growth, skill development and workplace-worth. 

You never know when you’ll need a CV. It could be a short notice invitation or an unexpected job opportunity. You might be invited to speak at an event or join a committee, for example. 

It would be shame to miss these prospects simply because you don’t have the chance to undertake a CV update at the time.  If you do it regularly, it shouldn’t take too much time. Little and often, as my mum always says.   

Uniqueness of holidays

So, here’s an idea. Take it with you on holiday. And make sure you don’t return home until you have given it a much-needed polish. 

Aren’t holidays supposed to be all about stopping work and creating distance between you and your desk, you ask?  They are, I agree. 

But it’s the uniqueness of holidays that perhaps gives us a rare moment of objectivity for looking again at our CVs. We have time to think about how we present our own professional ‘shop window’. 

It’s a time when, arguably, we are most authentically ‘us’, as a person, an individual. Not flavoured, distracted or preoccupied by all things ‘work’.   

I say this because I’ve done just that. At the end of three weeks from work, two of them away, I found myself thinking differently about the core characteristics of what makes ‘me’ at work. This included my skills, qualities, experience and strengths. The things that might set me apart from others, in other words. 

I made notes on my phone, editing them when the mood took me. The outcome was a CV update that included a new opening summary paragraph. And it feels more authentic, different, fresh and contemporary.  

There is another good reason. A CV update helps you prepare for that awkward question: ‘tell me about yourself’. Without proper preparation, it’s easy to fluff this question and waffle through (I have before – trust me). This can lead to you missing an invaluable and unique chance to sell yourself. 

A well-thought-out opening paragraph of a CV should give you sufficient prompts to do a better job. 

James Hempsall OBE is director of Hempsall’s training, research and consultancy. Visit hempsalls.com.