Yeah, O Tannenbaum is a cornball title for a blog article about resumes, but play along just a little. The Holiday Season is upon us with all of its lights and music and family traditions. O Tannenbaum is a favorite carol, and there is actually a connection between the tree’s “lovely branches” and today’s topic.
Evergreens are a ubiquitous symbol for the holiday season. Childhood memories conjure up the smell of Christmas trees and festive wreaths on the doors of houses. Long a symbol of life in the midst of winter, evergreens branches and trees have been used as seasonal decoration from the Roman times. Even the word has come to take on a meaning of freshness. To say that a subject or idea is evergreen signifies that it is always current, relevant and worth examining.
But should we apply the word evergreen to resumes? Absolutely. In the current employment season, keeping your private-sector resume evergreen is a smart decision and it may also make good sense for some federal resumes. We’ll get to that later in the article, but first let’s indulge in some nostalgia.
The Way Employment Used to Be
In the holiday seasons of my childhood, I remember shopping at a wonderful downtown department store. As a treat at the end of the visit, my mom would always take me through the toy department to get a first-hand look at all of the new products that we had seen on TV. The lady who managed the department was named Mrs. Broome, and we saw her year after year . . . a smiling and friendly face that still sticks in my memory decades later.
Mrs. Broome probably worked for that department store until it closed. It may have been the only job she ever had and it’s easy to imagine that she was part of the family at the small, downtown business. It’s a warm notion of a bygone age. The fact is we just don’t see that kind of long-term relationship any more.
It’s A Myth
Lovely holiday memories notwithstanding, this kind of long-term commitment really never existed in the U.S., at least not in the last 50 years or so. Employment statistics show Mrs. Broome would have been an exception to the rule, even in the 1960s. As the charts below show, the average job tenure for women in the workforce in those days was relatively short, averaging 4.875 years across all of the age groupings. Despite the preconceived notion that people change jobs more frequently today, the average job tenure for women has actually increased over the years to slightly over 6 years in 2010. For men, the average tenure has decreased measurably from 9.3 years in 1963 to 6.85 in 2010, but that’s still a long way from a lifetime career.
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Employee Tenure Trend Lines, 1983 – 2010
The conclusion is evident: Even in the 1960s, Americans changed jobs frequently and they still do today. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study of baby boomers indicates that individuals between the ages of 18 and 46 in 1978 have held 11.44 jobs on average during their career. Another more recent BLS statistic indicates that current average job tenure for wage and salary workers in the U.S. is only 4.6 years. And yet another survey by Future Workplace indicates that Millennials expect to stay in a position for less than three years. These younger employees would hold as many as 20 different positions in a career if their own projections play out.
Reason #1 – Your resume should be evergreen because you’re likely to change employers soon.
The Freelance Economy
By every indication, the number of contract and freelance workers in the economy is increasing. A Harvard Business Review article estimates that these “contingent workers” may eventually make up 25% of the global workforce. Depending on the stats cited, the combination of temporary, contract, and self-employed workers in the U.S already accounts for between 19% and 30% of all jobs.
Part of this shift is involuntary. Some categories and age groups of workers have had difficulty finding conventional, full-time employment in recent years and have set off on their own. For others, the move to freelance or independent work is a conscious choice. Many have become disenchanted with conventional employment and are seeking a better work/life balance. Other younger freelancers simply want to design their own careers.
Contingent workers are in demand by corporations because they are a cost-effective resource for ideas and capabilities. Why do freelancers and independent workers need resumes? If you fall into this category, you already know the answer. You still have to apply for the gig. A resume and probably an online portfolio are part of the package and are frequently used as independent workers seek new contracts and projects.
Reason #2 – If you’re a freelancer or contractor, your resume should be evergreen because you need it to get new work.
Career Plans and Surprises
Maybe you think that you’re Mrs. Broome. You love your job at the small department store and never want to leave. Then one day the owner calls a meeting and you find out that the little store has been purchased by MegaMart and you’re now Employee #53765-R. Surprise!
There’s another surprise occurrence that’s much nicer and is actually happening more frequently, especially to top performers and to employees with specialized skills that are in demand. It’s likely that at some point in your career, you’ll be the happy recipient of an unexpected email from an executive recruiter who has a great possibility for your next career move. If you’re active in your industry and prominent on the social networks, this kind of surprise can happen regularly. The recruiters know where you are. Increasingly, they are turning to online resources first before advertising positions that they need to fill.
There are still those of us who actually plan a career change and take the steps to make it happen. An evergreen resume is a necessity for the next move up in the corporate world, but it also makes sense for government jobs. Even if the forecast for federal jobs is a little uncertain after the mid-term elections, there’s no doubt that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs will open up during the next year. BLS stats indicate that federal job openings actually increased slightly last year, and hiring figures remain at over 25,000 per month. If you’re planning a career move next year, this might be the perfect time to update your USAJobs resume.
Reason #3 – Your resume should be evergreen in preparation for planned and unplanned career changes.
A Resume in Your Stocking?
It never failed that one or two of the toys that Ms. Broome showed me would appear in a stocking or under the tree. My mom was a planner, and that last part of the shopping trip was her way of figuring out the special gifts to buy.
The holiday season is busy with shopping and celebration, but it’s also a wonderful time to do some career planning for the coming year. We think that making sure that you have an evergreen resume is a wise part of the plan. We also hope that you will consider CareerProPlus if you’d like to do more than just “spruce up” your old resume.
A new resume isn’t exactly a stocking stuffer, but it is a very worthwhile career investment. Since 1986, our team of master resume writers have helped over 55,000 clients produce well-crafted professional, federal and military resumes that get attention and land interviews. Please get in touch if you’d like a free consultation.
All of us at CareerPro Global wish you a joyous holiday season with many wonderful surprises!
Jeanne Meister, Job Hopping is the New Normal for Millennials, Forbes, 8/14/12
Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979
Employee Benefit Research Institute, Employee Tenure Trend Lines, 1983 – 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, News Releases, 9/18/14 and 11/13/14
Tammy Erickson, The Rise of the New Contract Worker, Harvard Business Review, 9/7/12