A Ready Résumé

Use performance review notes to keep your résumé up to date

by Joe Conklin

Did you ever suddenly hear about that job you’ve been dreaming of? Ever had to look for a new job when you least expected it? At times like this, a ready résumé is your best friend.

You can leave your résumé untouched for months and years and then face a time-consuming rewrite when time is of the essence. Or, you can avoid some pain and invest a few hours each year to the task of keeping your résumé fresh.

Using performance review notes is the best way to keep your résumé ready. By performance review notes, I mean the documentation of your accomplishments, plans, training and improvement suggestions you make prior to your actual review.

Ideally, your boss will accept your comments and incorporate them into the final write-up. If not, your notes are still a convenient way to organize your thoughts.

If you update your résumé every year, the parts you are most likely to revise are your objective, contact information and current job details. Any notes you prepare before a performance review are fodder for updating the current job section of your résumé.

Choosing accomplishments

Consider the résumé (below) of Warren Kostus, a fictional quality assurance engineer in the warranty data operation of a computer hardware manufacturer.


Kostus’ current employer conducts semiannual performance reviews—one at midyear and the other at year-end. The midyear review provides an opportunity to address emerging issues and problems affecting the department’s ability to meet its goals for the year.

For his last midyear review, Kostus reported the following accomplishments to his supervisor:

  • Made department record-retention period compliant with new standard.
  • Trained staff in state-of-the-art warranty cost forecasting techniques.
  • Reorganized monthly forecast file so most important forecasts appear first.
  • Streamlined and simplified department audit procedures.
  • Helped interdepartmental team finalize recommendations for use of the internet to enhance major customer database updates.

The following accomplishments were noted for his last year-end review:

  • Automated key quality edits of major department publications.
  • Implemented improved orientation program for department’s new hires.
  • Helped record number of staff members obtain permission to share interesting research findings at professional society conference.
  • Automated annual regeneration of critical product mailing list.
  • Improved release of key warranty reports so they were current within 60 days instead of 90.

Kostus is now ready to update his résumé. His objective and contact information are the same as last year, so he concentrates on the description of his current job. The department lost one technician to retirement. Investment in modern reporting technology required an increase in his budget, and the resulting productivity improvements allow the remaining technicians to perform the same work as before.

Not having room to list all 11 accomplishments for the last year on his résumé, Kostus wants the best balance of old and new. After some thought, he decides to remove two of the old ones and replace them with two new ones.

The last accomplishment he listed on his performance review notes—speeding up release of warranty reports—has the advantage of being an easily grasped measure of success, so he chooses it as one of the two. And, to better highlight his growing ability to manage and develop people, he selects the accomplishment about the new hire orientation program.

After 10 minutes of cutting, pasting and editing, the part of Kostus’ résumé pertaining to his current job is updated (see "Key Accomplishments Section of Updated Résumé"). If his next big career opportunity knocks, he is ready to open the door.

Updated Résumé Section

Key accomplishments:

  • Led team that reduced cycle time for warranty forecasts by 25% in two years.
  • Implemented employee suggestions that reduced overhead budget by 15% in 18 months.
  • Improved release of key warranty reports so they are current within 60 instead of 90 days.
  • Implemented improved orientation program for department’s new hires.


Joseph B. Conklin is a statistician with the U.S. Department of Energy, helping to assess the quality of its natural gas survey data. Conklin earned a master’s degree in statistics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. An ASQ member, he holds the following certifications: quality engineer, reliability engineer, quality auditor, quality manager and software quality engineer.

It was a really great article! It instantly made me review and made adjustments to my resume. Keep up the good work!
--keron, 07-02-2008

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