It's never too early to update your resume, even if you're not searching for a new job. Why? Updating your resume is a valuable reminder to yourself of your practical value to employers.
Refer to it when preparing your business case for a raise request or when preparing for your annual performance evaluation. Your resume is a good reminder of your achievements for your company as well as your capabilities and skills.
And if you suddenly find your company, or life, in upheaval and need to start searching for a new job, preparing your resume is one less stressful activity to worry about. You've kept your resume current so it's nearly complete. Just polish it, print it and add a cover letter targeted toward each individual employer and position. Then drop it in mail, fax it or e-mail it per potential employer's preference. It's so simple, right? Hardly.
If you could really capture your essence in a bottle and send it to prospective employer, you'd certainly get job. Why? He'd know how polished, enthusiastic, well-qualified and perfect you were for position compared to other trillion candidates applying too. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Your "essence" has to go into brief resume and cover letter versus a bottle. And that's how potential employer knows he or she just MUST meet you in person.
"Your resume is a snapshot," says Anne McKinney, author and editor of "Real Resumes for Administrative Support, Office & Secretarial Jobs" by PREP Publishing (www.prep-pub.com). "And when a resume is a great resume, from head (its objective) to toe (its personal section), an employer can really feel that he has met you. He might not know exactly what you look like but it's a photograph of you in lots of ways that you've brought to life. And that's not easy for most people to create since they're not writers."
Here is advice McKinney shared that should help make your next resume and cover letter writing experience easier and more focused:
Cover Letters: 1. Don't write anything that will get you screened out. For example, don't write that you've just finished having your ninth child but your mother-in-law takes care of children during day. Most employers will think your life is too busy to truly include them in a reliable fashion.
2. Be careful when you introduce personal content. But don't exclude it in your cover letter if it might be of interest to that particular employer. For example, you mention your youngest child has just left home for college, you're newly single and you're psyched for this position that possibly entails traveling as a personal assistant. That employer is looking for someone who is willing to travel or relocate and focus on him predominately. You're in.
3. Write positive statements. Don't start with 'I've been out of job market for 15 years...' It doesn't inspire confidence. See tip above for a better way to phrase this.
4. Stay away from touchy subjects unless it's positive and useful information. Religious matters wouldn't likely be appropriate for a cover letter unless, for instance, you're applying to work at a nonprofit organization of your faith. Then it might be to your advantage to mention something relevant.
5. Use cover letter to address questions or discrepancies that employer might have about you. Make employers aware that you do know what job you're applying for and you're not just littering universe with your resume. That might mean writing that 'I'm writing to you from Missouri but I'm planning to be in North Carolina where you're located upon my husband's retirement from military when we return to our home town.'