As the first thing about you a potential employer sees, your resume deserves the same attention that you would give to, say, the suit you wear to an interview. You wouldn't expect to woo the hiring manager in ratty, dirty, or outdated clothes, would you? Likewise, your resume needs to be kept fresh and new if you are to make the best possible impression on potential employers.
A new resume is more than simply updating your old resume to reflect your latest job, however. Computers have made it easy for people to update an old resume over and over again, without really ever rewriting it. This approach can backfire, though, as the meat of your resume -- your qualifications, summary, and objectives -- will remain stagnant for years.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether a new resume is in order.
Is Your Last Resume More Than 3 Years Old?
While making minor changes, such as updating your work history, can keep a resume current, you should overhaul your resume periodically. This ensures that it stays fresh: that the format is being reevaluated regularly to ensure it still fits your needs, and more importantly, that you are occasionally considering your current career path and how it fits into your long-term goals.
Have You Changed Jobs More Than Once, or Gotten Your Degree Since Your Last Resume?
While you might not feel a new resume is in order after one job change, most likely if you have changed jobs multiple times you will benefit from revamping it a little. Although many people talk about a career like it is a static concept, in fact your career is always in motion. Every job you take teaches you new skills, gives you a new perspective on the industry, and impacts the direction you will take your career in next. If you have changed jobs more than once since the last time you wrote your resume, chances are your objectives, qualifications, and even your outlook on your career have changed.
The same goes for completing a degree or another educational program. Most people get their degree in order to change or improve their career prospects, so chances are having your degree will dramatically change your career objectives. Be sure to celebrate your new degree and build your confidence for job hunting by arming yourself with an attention-getting new resume!
Has Your Career Changed Direction or Made Significant Advancements?
Whether you have made major changes to your existing career path, or taken a different route entirely, career changes always call for a new resume. Selling your new career outlook is going to require some finesse. A combination resume, which highlights your marketable skills as well as listing your work experience, is a good format to consider.
Are You Trying to Break into a New Field?
If you are a former librarian looking for work as an automotive mechanic, you'd better believe that prospective employers are going to want some proof that you can do the job! In this case, your old resume just isn't going to cut it -- not by a long shot. When changing fields completely, a skills-based resume or a combination resume is important, as your previous work history doesn't have anything to offer. However, you might have restored several cars from the ground up in your free time, or volunteered for an organization that fixed up cars and donated them to needy families. A skills-based or combination resume provides a way for you to highlight the skills you have that are applicable to the job you are applying for, even if they aren't an obvious part of your work experience.
Have You Applied to This Employer Before?
If the employer you are sending your resume has seen it before, it is definitely time for a new one. Whether you are reapplying for the same job or applying for a different position, your resume failed to interest them the first time around. Furthermore, you don't want the hiring manager to recognize your resume and remember what he or she didn't like the first time around! Giving your resume a serious makeover is a necessity anytime you are applying to a company for the second time, whether or not you are trying for the same position.
Is Your Resume Digital?
If your resume is so old that it is not even on the computer, don't be ashamed -- you are not alone. Hard drives crash and storage devices fail, and files such as your resume can be lost forever. If, however, you are one of the lucky few to have worked in the same job for years, you actually have had something many of people can only dream of: job security. Even if you have no immediate need, however, it is still a good idea to have a current resume on hand, as it will allow you to start looking again as quickly as possible should you find yourself in the market for a new job.
The Value of a Current Resume
In the current job market, it is no longer the case that if you have a good job, you don't need to have your resume ready to go at any time. Job security can be unpredictable in a rough economy, and you could find yourself unemployed at any time. Rewriting and updating your resume now ensures that whenever you are ready to enter the job market again, your resume is ready, too!