Why you should keep your resume and cover letter up to date
If you’re like most of us, you only update your résumé and cover letter when you’re actively looking for a job. But what happens if a recruiter contacts you about a role you really like? Or if you hear about an opening at your ideal company?
Don’t miss a career opportunity
When you learn about a career opportunity, having your materials up to date will allow you to respond immediately — and that’s important. Why? Because the sooner your information gets on a hiring manager’s desk, the more likely you are to be in the running. If, in contrast, you have to wait until you have a couple of free hours before you can update your résumé and cover letter, you might be too late — and lose your chance of getting the job.
How to update your résumé
To update your résumé, begin by adding your most recent position. List the company, the date you started, your job title and your specific duties. Then think about your accomplishments in this role. Have you helped land large accounts? If so, state that, and if possible, quantify the revenue it generated for your company. Have you designed process improvements that resulted in savings? Describe them in general terms and put a number to the amount of savings they yielded. Once you’ve done this for your current role, look at your previous roles, and make sure that your impact in each one is clearly stated.
How to update your cover letter
The most important thing to know about your cover letter is that it’s your opportunity to highlight how you can add value to a company. That’s why, when you’re updating it, you should spend some time thinking about your value proposition. Are you a strategic thinker who’s capable of creating and implementing high-level plans? Have you proven yourself a valuable asset in expanding business reach? Clearly explain what it is that sets you apart from the competition.
Remember that you should still customize your cover letter before sending it out. It’s best to address it to the hiring manager named in the job post. In addition, as Alison Doyle points out in her article “17 Quick Tips to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out” for The Balance Careers, you should ensure that your qualifications match the listed job requirements, as these can vary per position.
Keeping your résumé and cover letter up to date doesn’t require too much of a time investment — yet it can yield big results. So set aside an hour or so each month to review your career materials and make the necessary changes, and you’ll be able to respond to any new job opportunities that come your way in a timely manner.
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