I got an email this week asking “when would be a good time to work on my resume/LinkedIn? When I’m ready to apply for jobs and have a specific goal? Or when I have the time?” The person is making a move out of politics and to design.

My advice is to do both. 

The best time to work on your resume and LinkedIn is now.


when to write a resume

Most people plan to do the majority of the job search activities (especially resume, LinkedIn, and networking) closer to when they want to land. Career-building is not about the resume or LinkedIn. It’s about your reputation and acceptance in the sector. 

If you’re in career transition, making a change from one sector to another,  the most successful ones take 18 months to three years. It takes time for people in the new sector to get to know your name and style. If you wait until a few weeks before you want a job, you might find yourself in a long job search.  You want to know what you offer and understand your potential contribution to your sector now.

So, before you start writing a resume do these five things. And then do the stuff below.

Resume writing actions you can do 12-18 months before you want to land work

The hard part of writing a resume is knowing how you will brand yourself in the document. Your core transferable skills aren’t going to change, and knowing those will help you as you establish yourself in the new sector.

For your resume, you can start to:

LinkedIn actions you can do 12-18 months before you want to land a job

For LinkedIn, you can start to:

  • Connect with people in the new sector on LinkedIn (here’s what to say to them)
  • Share articles and ideas related to the new sector
  • Comment on posts in your target sectors
  • Share posts about things you are learning or celebrate other people in your target sector
  • Update your profile to show your transferable skills, but also show your new education (learn how in this class)
  • Change your headline to indicate you are studying or looking to transition to a new sector

Career and job research you can do 12-18 months before you want to land a job

Also to the above, you can spend this time researching. Start researching and gathering the words used in your industry. Look up companies and people in the targeted sector, and read magazine/periodicals. Check out job ads for the job you want. Pay attention to the words that are repeated. This helps you to know what words you want to start using. Know both the professional and slang versions, and weave them into your conversations. This gives a signal that you’re ready and understand the new sector.

When I did a career transition, I did this. I created a list of words and phrases that people used in human resources. I wrote them on sticky notes at my desk and home office and started using them as often as I could — and where appropriate. As I embraced a word often, I’d cross off the list. This had my talking the talk of HR long before I landed an HR job. It’s not the phrases you learn in school, but also the way people talk and write in your chosen field.

You can absolutely be a fresh voice by using some of your regular wording, but you’ll look less like an outsider if you know the basics.

Resume and LinkedIn actions to do 6 months before you want to land

About six months before you want to land a job, get more serious about your resume. The best way to land a job is through networking, but it’s often a long-game. If your resume is ready and you implement a networking plan, you’ll feel more confident when you get attention. One of the worst feelings is hearing about a dream opportunity and not having a resume ready to share.

At this point, you can add in the new content, fine-tune your accomplishment statements, and write that incredible profile. (I teach an easy way to do all of this in resuMAY)

when to update your resume


A career transition starts months (and sometimes years) before you actually land. If you have the luxury of time, choose one action that helps your resume, networking, and LinkedIn every month over the next year. That way you’ll be in a sweet spot to land when you want to.