By Courtney Sprague, Guest Contributor
50% of Americans set New Year’s resolutions each year, with many being focused on the physical self rather than the inner self (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988, as cited by Saad, 2009, para 2). Why not take a break from the norm to focus on your career health and make the best of 2012? Setting New Year’s resolutions for your career is not just for those who are actively looking for a job, but also for those who have neglected their own career goals.
Join us in celebrating the New Year in this 2 part series on achieving career success in 2012. These first resolutions will assist you in what to do while preparing your job searching documents and the second installment will assist you in making your job search more manageable.
- Create or update your resume. Easily one of the most important components of a job search, your resume should be reviewed and updated frequently. Do you have a resume? If not, you’ll want to reference materials on creating your resume if you haven’t had one in a while. Does your current resume stop right before your current position? If so, you will want to add new projects that you have been working on, new skills you’ve developed and any additional important accomplishments you have. One simple way to keep up-to-date with your resume is to create an unformatted master resume, on which you simply list everything and anything that you’ve done professionally that could benefit you in the future. When it comes time to pull your resume together for a promotion or new position, you can pull from your master resume, allowing you to compile a resume in a snap.
- Create or update your cover letter. Aside from your resume, your cover letter is the first piece of information that an employer reads from you. You might see your cover letter as a written elevator pitch: a succinct yet thorough introduction illuminating your skill set and explaining what you bring to the table. Ensure that examples demonstrating the skills that you possess are current and that your contact information and dates on the document are accurate. Although all cover letters should be tailored to a specific position, you can have a generic one that you fill in later with specific details. A generic cover letter can be easily accessed and updated should a job opportunity present itself quickly.
- Review and Revise your career documents. Ask a trusted friend or family member to review your resume for content and grammatical errors. You will most likely be so familiar with your document that you will not be able to see the errors as easily as someone reading it for the first time. Once you fix the errors, you will want to identify professionals in your network, either your university’s career services office or professionals in your desired industry, that would be willing to review your resume from the hiring managers’ point of view. It is imperative to have your resume reviewed by a professional insofar as a professional can provide valuable feedback on current trends in your field and/or skills that you could develop which may enable you to gain a competitive advantage in your field.
Something important to consider when creating or updating your career documents, is that you should not have to pay for a review service and that paid services do not guarantee that you’ll get the job you’re applying for. Also, keep in mind that the more people you ask to review your document, the more opinions you will have. In the end, any revisions to your resume should be left up to you: it is critical that you have complete editorial control of and are comfortable with your resume’s content. It is marketing you, after all!
Ready When You Are
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