Résumé Writing The main reason for a résumé is to promote your qualifications, to get the employer interested enough to offer you an interview.
But, before your résumé even gets a chance to show off what you have to offer… A résumé will get a 5-30 second quick look over first. To survive that, it must look professional and match the job for which you are applying. If it looks like all of the rest or like it is just some quickly put together, generic résumé…..it’s going to make its way into the garbage.
YOU NEED TO CONSIDER… How is my résumé going to stand out against the rest? For what position exactly am I applying? How do I best summarize what I have to offer? How can I organize this information so that I don’t confuse the reader? And many more important questions? (refer to résumé critique)
Remember… Be brief…a résumé that is too long will often just be thrown away and not even looked through. Make your résumé personal for every job to which you are applying (make it job specific). Don’t bother including information that is not relevant to the position for which you are applying. A résumé should run from the most recent dates to the later dates. There is an easy to follow sequence (it has to be logical, don’t jump all over the place, section it).
1. Personal Information Always let the employer know how to contact you and who you are to start off Include: Name, Address, Phone Number, and Optional Items: E-mail Address (appropriate), Cell Number, Web Address Never Include: Physical Characteristics, Social Insurance Number, Age, Gender, and Religious or Political Affiliations
2. Objective For what position you are applying? Let the employer know that this résumé was specific for this job for which he is hiring. Phrase it in such a way that you are helping them; NOT that you are seeking (I.E. To provide quality, customer service while ensuring optimal coverage of responsibilities VERSUS Seeking employment as a waitress on a part-time basis)
3. Education/Certification and/or 4. Employable Skills From this point forward, the sections should be placed within your résumé in order of strength or according to tradition. Skills based résumés are becoming more common (Skills section immediately following Objective) In either case, you want to highlight what is relevant (I.E. Accounting 30 if you are applying as a cashier)
5. Employment History Now you can tell them where you got experience or what you have been doing in the work force. Highlight qualities or job responsibilities that match up with the position to which you are applying. Babysitting, Mowing Lawns, and the like DO count as employment history. While the responsibilities of the desired position may not match, the skills you developed may. Just be careful where you focus.
6. Volunteer What sort of stuff have you done on your own time? This may include your Wellness/Physical Education volunteer hours (although some would argue this, so use caution and know your audience), time helping out with school activities (score keeping, concession), or experiences around town. If you have extracurricular, it should go in a separate section. Don’t overload, try making connections with the type of work that you will be doing or show that you do things without having to be paid to do it.
7. References You will need three references – two who can comment on your work habits and ethic (educational or professional references) and one personal who can comment on the type of person that you are. While you may have two or three professional or educational, you should NEVER have more than one personal (cannot be family). Information that should be included is: title, name, organization, address, and telephone number.
Résumé Critique Résumés normally get less than a 15 second glance at the first screening. If someone has asked you to review his/her résumé and you want to help them ensure it gets considered -- or want to know if your own is up to par -- be sure you can answer yes to the following questions:
First Impression Does the résumé look original and not based on a template? Is the résumé inviting to read, with clear sections and ample, balanced white space? Does the design look professional (everything lined up, appropriate font, etc.)? Is the length and overall appearance of the résumé appropriate given the career level and objective?
Appearance Are there design elements such as bullets, bolding and lines to guide readers' eyes through the document and highlight important content? Are margins even on all sides, and about one inch? Are design elements like spacing and font size used consistently throughout the document? If the résumé is longer than a page, does the second (and subsequent) page contain a page header? Is the page break formatted correctly (section should all be on one page)?
Résumé Sections Are all résumé sections clearly labeled? Are sections placed in the best order to highlight the applicant's strongest credentials? Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
Accomplishments Does the résumé include a solid listing of career accomplishments? Are accomplishments quantified by using numbers, percentages, dollar amounts or other concrete measures of success? Do accomplishment statements begin with strong, varied action verbs? Are accomplishments separated from responsibilities?
Relevance Is the information relevant to hiring managers' needs? Is the résumé keyword-rich, packed with appropriate buzzwords and industry acronyms (refer to the job advertisement)? Is applicable additional information, such as awards and affiliations, included, while personal information like marital status, age and nationality unrelated to the job target omitted?
Writing Style Is the résumé written in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns, such as I, me and my, avoided? Is the content flow logical and easy to understand? Is the résumé as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar or syntax errors?
Final Thought You only get one chance at a first impression. Put time and effort into your résumé, like you would any job you are performing.