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Like business plans and New Year’s resolutions, resumes were never meant to be typed out and then forgotten. A resume is a living, breathing document. Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, you never know when you might be. Keeping a current resume, no matter how tedious it may seem, means you’re already a step ahead if you’re facing a pink slip, hear about a promotion at your current company or come across a great opening somewhere else.

The most obvious sign that your resume needs a revision is the contact information. We move, change our phone numbers or switch emails from time to time. Send out a resume with the wrong contact information and the interview opporunity call goes to someone else. Each time your contact information changes, take a few moments to make the change on your resume.

Another sign is that you’ve won some new awards or accomplished new achievements. Everyone in your industry has a similar education, similar work histories and similar duties. What sets you apart from the others is the recognitions you’ve received. From an honorable mention at the last industry awards ceremony to a certificate of achievement from your company’s continuing education department and employee of the month, add it to your resume so potential employers see what makes you so special.

Have your relationships changed with your references? Time to update them. The references you provide to your potential employers should be those who know your personality and skills the best. If you’ve drifted away (aka, been out of touch for a long while) from a colleague you were using for a while or had a falling out with a personal reference, replace him/her with someone who would be a better fit. The same applies if you were using a boss from a job you worked more than five years ago–that individual could be long gone from the company and probably has no idea of all the moving and shaking you have been up to. Replace them with someone more recent.

Finally, the best reason to update your resume (and possibly the most obvious reason) is because you’ve found a new job. You need to update your work history, including your responsibilities. And yes, updating your resume immediately after moving into your new cubicle may seem strange, but just remember that it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for whatever may come your way–good or bad.

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