A resume is a document used by job-seekers to present their backgrounds and skills. Resumes can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often they are used to secure new employment. A typical resume contains a summary of relevant job experience and education. The resume is usually one of the first items, along with a cover letter and sometimes an application for employment, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview.
When highlighting your professional experience, use accomplishment statements rather than descriptions of your role. Start with an action verb. Then detail the impact that action had: Did you increase, decrease, modify, or change anything in your work? Finally, be sure to quantify the accomplishments. Data helps.
Your cover letter should be one page, highly customized to each position you’re applying for. It answers two questions: why are you the right fit for the position? And how will you add value to the organization?
Job boards and companies use resume database systems to store and manage the many resumes they get. These systems have built-in search engines (much like the search engines you use online) that can search thousands of resumes in just a few seconds. What are they searching for? Keywords that define job openings.
The keywords in a resume give important info about the job seeker. Things like:
- Technical expertise
- Management skills
- Industry know-how
- Education and training
- Where he or she lives
- Work history
The format of a winning resume.
Any single version of the resume should aim to cover 2 pages and no more than 3.
- Resume preparation can be organised to provide you with a database of skills, experience and achievements from which you should select material to reflect the requirements of the specific job role.
- Put the most important matching points first, even if they are less important in terms of your present job, or were skills or achievements that go back some time.
- Do not feel obliged to add superfluous details about your marital status, children, religion or political affiliations, etc.
A resume should begin with a short summary of who you are. Make sure that this is objective and avoid all the subjective cliches such as 'excellent self-starter', 'good team player', 'natural leader and good communicator'. These qualities can be demonstrated through your tangible achievements which follow in the resume.
- The opening statement can be tailored to pick up on the key features of a given job description.
- Remember that your resume will form part of the script for the interviewer's questions.
- Do not allow gaps or unclear explanations to take up the precious time allotted to you so, try to neatly match their requirements.
Illustrate your achievements.
- It is not sufficient to simply state the posts and responsibilities that you have held. It is vital to illustrate how well you have carried out this work through your list of achievements.
- How does an achievement differ from responsibility? An achievement is a statement of how you have added value to an organisation.
Make sure to sell yourself.
- Always express your skills and qualities in the present tense - you may not be using them right now but you still have these facilities.
- Positive features need to jump off the page.
- Your resume should be printed and well designed, so that the material is clear and visually attractive, yet so many resumes do not reach this standard. Make sure that yours does, otherwise it is a complete waste of effort.
- Be objective. Get someone independent to look at your resume when you have completed it - not a friend or family member. Be prepared to refine it a number of times until it is right.
- Do not forget your skills outside of work. There may be something that you do in your personal time that has a direct bearing on your suitability for a particular post.
- A resume should also give some idea of your future potential. If you are presently studying for an additional qualification, say so.
Functional and chronological resumes.
- The most widely accepted style is the chronological resume.
- Career history is presented as a series of appointments with the achievements listed against each one.
- Presented in reverse date order, with the most recent appointment first.
- More space can be allocated to the more recent positions, since these are where your most important achievements are usually found.
- In some situations, however, a functional resume is acceptable and may be more appropriate.
- This is where you group together your skills and experience under `functional' headings.
- It can be helpful to produce a functional resume even if it is just for your own reference.
- List your professional, higher education qualifications and school details.
- Show recent vocational training.
- Include genuine foreign language skills.
- Include your unusual interests.
- Add a note of any external positions you hold.
- List every training course you have ever attended.
- Indicate race / politics, etc.
- Indicate your computer skills.
- Put down mundane interests.
- Include present salary details.
- Give references.
Overall, a resume should be neat and typed if possible. Most libraries now have public computers, if you do not have your own.
It should also be short, usually no more than two sides of A4. It should be positive, stressing achievements and strengths, and make a good impression in a clear and positive way.
Write a resume That Stands Out
Today’s job market is competitive. Many companies receive hundreds of resumes a year, making it difficult for yours to stand out from the crowd. However, that should not keep you from getting interviews. The following ideas will help you learn how to get employers to read your resume and get your phone ringing.
Include a profile
Begin your resume with a profile, which contains a synopsis of your varied skills and educational qualifications. This profile should match the particular job you want to apply for. State your career objective clearly so that the reader gets an overall idea of your background and areas of expertise. Write this section in such a manner that it immediately catches the attention of a hiring manager, and he calls you instead of someone else.
Keep the resume short
No one has the time to go through elaborate detailing about your past jobs and experiences. Therefore, keep the resume short. Make a list of the most important jobs you have held and give a brief of your previous job-oriented experiences. However, in the case of technical people, resumes can extend to three pages in order to include relevant technical information.
Give more importance on content than on looks
One of the major mistakes people make while creating resumes is in the use of fancy fonts. Avoid using fancy fonts and do not change font regularly throughout the resume. Changing fonts regularly will distract and confuse a hiring manager. Do not use underlining or italics to add emphasis. Make your document eye appealing so that your reader can review it with ease. Use white paper and make the thoughts flow smoothly.
Clearly identify your skills
Do not be modest in mentioning your skills. Clearly identifying your skills will distinguish you from the other job seekers and eventually help your potential employers to select you from the rest. Remember, all you have to do is to stand out from the crowd.
List your educational and professional qualifications
Include any relevant education or training that might relate. Provide details of only those qualifications that match your current job search. This will help you to get short-listed more easily.
Focus on your job responsibilities
Starting with your present position or most recent job, mention the title of every job you have held, along with the name of the company, the city and state, and the years you have worked there. Under each position, make a list of your job responsibilities. Use descriptive verbs, such as created, increased, performed, initiated, developed, led, improved or reduced to begin each statement of your duties and accomplishments. Producing a document that is well presented, detailed and targeted will attract the attention of your hiring manager.
Add related qualifications and interests
Think about anything else that might qualify you for your job objective and place it at the bottom of your resume. It may include licenses, certifications, awards and achievements, and sometimes even your hobbies and interests if they truly relate. If you seek a job in a music company, for example, stating on your resume that you are a pianist will increase your chance to get that interview call.
Be honest with your resume
If you did not actually do what you said you did, it would be called a lie. Numerous surveys show that job applicants lie most frequently about education and employment, particularly about job responsibilities and dates of employment. Hiding gaps in employment and jobs where they were forced to leave by the respective employers is also common. There are many risks involved in lying, but many job applicants do not seem to get the message about the risks of lying. Once you are caught with a lie, you will be fired then and there. So, DON”T lie – be honest with your resume.
Always attach a covering letter
A cover letter is a letter of introduction that highlights your key achievements and skills and entitles you for a job opening. It reflects your communication skills and your personality. The main purpose of this document is to introduce yourself in such an interesting manner that the reader will not only continue reading your resume but also be willing to call you for an interview.
Proofread your resume
After you have finalized your employment documents, check them repeatedly for errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Spelling and grammatical errors can automatically disqualify a resume from consideration. If you make mistakes on your employment documents, hiring managers might presume you will be equally careless on the job - no matter how important your qualifications and experiences are. Proofread your resume and cover letter carefully.
Make your resume positive and completely error-free. If you are seeking two or three different positions, prepare two or three separate resumes, each tailored to the job you are targeting. Make your resume exclusive and unique so that it stands out from the crowd. Good luck for your career!
A Web resume is simply a copy of your resume produced on a web page that can be accessed via the Internet rather than held on your PC at home. It is an ideal addition to your job hunting toolkit if you intend to spend any time away from your PC.
Imagine being away on a trip and you pop into an Internet café to find the nearest decent restaurant and browse the web to use up the rest of your pre-paid time. You come across the perfect job! With a Web resume you can send an email with your resume Web address and password to the employer or recruitment agency and they can view your resume immediately. Indeed, whether you are moving house, taking a gap year abroad or travelling extensively in your current job you can give employers and agencies instant access to your resume and you can apply for any vacancy at any time.
With a resume Web page you can ring employers or agencies about a job advertised in the local paper and instead of just sending your resume by post a few days later, why not give them your web address and password over the phone? They can look at your resume while you are still talking. You will be remembered for being innovative, professional and efficient.
Even if you apply for a vacancy via email you can include a link to your resume Web Page or add it to your covering letter. Employers in every line of business use computer technology to a small or larger degree. A Web resume will show employers and recruiters that you are aware of and embracing the latest technology.
Make your resume count!
How many people do you think apply for each of the jobs that you see listed online or in the newspaper? Every single one of those jobs is going to get at least a few hundred applicants, I am serious! That is why you need to make sure that your resume is one of a kind, that your resume is so fantastic that the employer is going to be driven to read it all the way through. It is your responsibility to make sure that every application and resume you send out is unique and that it will stand out. To do this, you first need to know what kinds of skills you have to put to use. Then, when you know what you have going for you, you can start listing them on your resume to get employers interested in you.
Internet job search sites are a great way to find a new and exciting job. No matter what industry you come from you can use these sites to find better jobs any day of the week. Hundreds and thousands of jobs are listed new each and every day all over the world
Start your online job search by checking out the jobs that you have direct experience doing. Then move onto some that you would like to try out. You can exaggerate your skill a bit, everyone does, but do not get carried away because you will get found out and that can get you into trouble down the line. Go with what you know and you will be that much better off in the long run.
You need to always have a good and engaging cover letter to go along with your resume. This cover letter is going to be your first impression so make it count. You also need to write a new cover letter for each and every job that you apply for. This is important because employers can spot canned cover letters at a glance, yours needs to be original and specific to the position that you are applying for.
Many people assume that when you are applying for the job online a cover letter is not something that needs to be attached. Your cover letter is the one place where you can outshine every single other applicant, so go for it. You want the employer to see you as the only one for the job and that is what your cover letter is going to do. In other words, if they liked your cover letter you have a much greater chance of getting the job, regardless of the talents listed on your resume.
You also need to make sure that the cover letter of your resume is showing all of your personality. Don’t be afraid to be excited and show it. This can help you to sell yourself in a big way and that is what you want to do at all times. Employers want to see a little spark in these cover letters and resumes.
What are the most important aspects of your resume that employers look for?
- 45% Previous related work experience
- 35% Qualifications & skills
- 25% Easy to read
- 16% Accomplishments
- 14% Spelling & grammar
- 9% Education (these were not just graduate recruiters for whom this score would be much higher!)
- 9% Intangibles: individuality / desire to succeed
- 3% Clear objective
- 2% Keywords added
- 1% Contact information
- 1% Personal experiences
- 1% Computer skills
Resumes are an essential tool in the job searching process and everyone should know how to construct one. But many people don't know the difference between a good resume and a great resume and this could be the deciding factor in securing an interview for your dream job.
After reading this section, you will know:
- How to create a resume that stands out in the crowd
The best format to follow
What to include and what to exclude in your resume
Importance of tailoring your resume to your audience
A functional resume has several parts, which are typically included in this order:
- Name and Contact Information
- Objective Statement
- Key Skills and Qualifications
- Work Experience
- Additional parts may include a section for Awards and Honors or References.
Name and Contact Information
You should include your name, full address, telephone number with area code, and email address (if applicable) at the very top of your resume. If you are currently residing at a temporary address, such as a student’s college address, you may include it in addition to your permanent address depending on the circumstances.
If you choose to include an objective statement, it should be a concise and meaningful statement that describes your career goals in detail. An objective can include your goals in regards to your desired position title, industry, level of responsibility, and desired utilized skills. The elements included in your objective should be reinforced and supported throughout your resume and your cover letter.
A major mistake that many new professionals make is that they use a generalized objective statement. This is due to the fact that many men and women new to the workforce may not necessarily know what they are seeking in a position. They fear that by limiting the scope of the objective, that they are knocking themselves out of the running for positions that do not neatly match their objective – positions that they might otherwise be interesting in pursuing.
While this is true in some cases, it is advisable to either keep your objective focused and narrow, or completely leave it off your resume. A weak, unfocused objective in effect says nothing and will actually detract from your overall presentation.
If you have a college degree, you should position the Education section near the top of your resume before your Key Skills and Qualifications. If you do not have a degree, the Education section should follow your Key Skills and Qualifications.
Your highest level of education achieved, whether you completed the program or not, should be the first listed in this section. All other schools you attended should follow.
For each individual school, list the following:
- Name of the school
- Dates you attended or graduated
- Degrees earned (or degree program you were in, if not completed)
- Major and minor subject areas
You may also list any honors, awards, Dean's list commendations, and GPAs if they will enhance this section of your resume. Any certifications or completed training courses that that are relevant to the position you are seeking should also be included.
Newer graduates can include a list of completed courses that are directly relevant to the type of position you are seeking. For example, a newly graduated Accounting major may want to highlight her course in Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, and Tax Accounting.
You should only include high school information if you do not have a college degree or if you achieved high commendation in some area that reinforces your career objectives.
Key Skills and Qualifications
This is the most critical section of a functional resume. The Skills section of your resume should highlight any relevant skills that might not otherwise be disclosed on your resume. This section will be highly individualized to both the person and the position they are seeking.
First, identify the key skills relevant to the type of position you are seeking. Some examples of key skills include customer relations, graphic design, marketing, leadership, and computer technology skills. It may be necessary to develop several different versions of your resume so that you are able effectively market yourself to a variety of jobs.
Next, rank the key skills in order of importance – you want the most important skill to appear at the top of your skills list. Then, under each of these key skill categories, include any information about yourself that demonstrates how you possess this skill. You can draw from any work experience, volunteer experience, schooling, extracurricular activities, or any other area as appropriate. As with the key skills themselves, rank this in order of importance so that the most relevant examples appear first.
Examples of key skills with supporting documentation are as follows:
- Designed questionnaire to assess customer needs
- Identified sample population to be included in the study
- Drafted analysis plan
- Prepared survey results report and presented the results to the study team
- Marketing and Distribution
- Developed layout and organization of merchandise for a 25-page giftware catalog
- Maintained accurate, up-to-date computer records of merchandise inventory, suppliers, customers, and shipping vendors.
- Handled all facets of order receipt, processing, and fulfillment
Since you are new to the workforce, employers do not expect you to have much in terms of work experience. This section should be very brief. You should not provide any details of your responsibilities and accomplishments in this section (these should have been included under Key Skills and Qualifications). Instead, simply list your job title, the name of the employer, the location of the position, and your dates of employment
- Honors and Awards - List any career, academic, leadership or athletic honors you have received. Academic awards may alternatively be listed under the Education section of the resume.
- References - You may include a statement declaring “References Available upon Request” if you need to fill space on your resume. Otherwise you should list references in a separate document. References should typically only be provided when requested or once it is clear that the competition for a position is narrowing. Do not include specific reference names or contact information on your resume.
- Other Categories - If there is additional information that you feel is important to include butt does not fit into any of these categories, you can create custom categories. Examples of custom categories may include Background, Professional Activities, and Recitals/Art Shows.
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