10 Steps to a Better Resume

There is no right or wrong way to write a resume. But competition for jobs is fierce right now. You need to develop a resume that sets you apart from the masses. It can’t be a passive piece of paper. It must be a passionate representation of who you are and why you are the best person for the job.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important that you help employers see the benefits of hiring you over someone else. Organizations need to know that you will help them attain their corporate objectives. Your resume is the first step in expressing that message to them. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Select the Type of Resume that Works for You

There are three types of resumes: chronologicalfunctional and combination. The chronological resume lists job and education history in a reverse chronological order. The functional resume concentrates on skills and abilities. In this approach, names of employers, dates and education history details are omitted and the information is not presented chronologically.

Most employers prefer chronological resumes because the format makes it much easier to see the applicant’s career progression. The majority of the advice included here relates most closely with the chronological format. While a functional resume may work better for someone who is changing fields and wants to use a more skills-oriented format, it may be better to try a combination resume instead. This style combines the primary elements of the chronological and functional resume formats by presenting relevant skills and abilities but doing so in chronological order.

Looks Matter in the design and format of your resume

Select a design and format that allows you to highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education that directly relates to the job you are applying for.

Keep the layout clean and easy to read to help pull the reader in. Simple, clean ivory or white 81/2 x 11 paper with a professional, clean looking font is the best approach. Stick to using one font and use bold and italics if necessary.

Resumes should begin with your name, address, e-mail and phone number(s). Make it easy for a potential employer to contact you. Avoid including personal Information such as age, height, weight, and marital status. It is unnecessary and out of place in a professional resume.

If possible, keep your resume to one page, - two pages at the most. A well summarized representation of your work history, experience and education is far more impactful than a long, rambling clearing house of every job you’ve ever had.

Grammar and Punctuations on your resume-Proofread for mistakes

We may be stating the obvious, but your resume must be free of spelling mistakes and include correct grammar and punctuation. Any mistake of this kind calls into question your accuracy and attention to detail and can dash your chances of getting an interview. Be on the safe side and have two or three people proofread your resume before you send it along to any potential employer.

The Objective on a resume should be customized for each individual organization

Assuming you have an attractive, clean looking resume, the objective becomes your next opportunity to grab an employer’s attention. A well worded objective should never be more than two sentences. Avoid generic, broad objectives that will make an employer move quickly to the next applicant. Instead, read the job advertisement closely in order to determine what the employer is really looking for and customize the objective for each individual organization.

Your Experience and Work History on a Resume

You should place the experience section of your resume after the objective section. List your employers, job location, employment dates, job titles, and descriptions of your tasks, accomplishments and skills.

Employers want to know what you did and how closely that experience matches their needs. Things to consider when summarizing your relevant experience:

  • Include only the most important information about each position.
  • Be specific rather than general in your descriptions using concise and vivid language.
  • Quantify the impact of your actions in your previous positions. Facts, figures, and numbers help to do this. For example: How many accounts did you work on? How many employees did you supervise?
  • Be sure to include a list of key contributions or achievements.
  • Find key words and terminology in the job advertisement and be sure to include them in your resume.

Education statements on your resume

Education statements should include dates of attendance, majors, minors and degrees. List your most recent or impressive educational achievement first. You should also list additional coursework if it is related to position in question. Try to list unique talents or specialized skills in hot demand in your field of interest in this section as well. 

Include relevant Awards or Special Recognition on your Resume

Be sure to include relevant awards or special recognition if you have received any. These are “eye catchers” that will keep the reader interested. Remember, you want to include items that set you apart from the crowd and designations of this sort indicate accomplishment, skill and leadership potential. This can be included along with the education statement or as a stand alone section of your resume.

10-15 years of work history generally reasonable to have listed on a resume

Generally, it is reasonable to go back 10 – 15 years in your work history. If you have a longer work history than that, you can divide your work history into two sections, “recent” and “relevant”, or include a separate paragraph that summarizes all relevant prior experience.

Addressing gaps in your work history

Rather than leaving a gap, it is best to indicate what you were doing; whether you were a full-time parent, on maternity leave, traveling, studying, or volunteering. If you are currently in a gap period, you may want to consider fitting in some volunteer work along with the job search which is an excellent element to include in your resume. You are likely to catch the eye of a potential employer if you can show you have participated in some type of volunteer work even on a very limited basis.

Electronic Resumes-Keep it updated for your job search

The internet is an important tool in assisting individuals in their job search. It is always a good idea to have printed copies of your resume on hand, but it is increasingly important to have an "electronic resume" updated and at you fingertips. This allows you to forward your resume for networking and job application purposes quickly and easily. You can also load your electronic resume onto job search databases and social networking sites that will give your resume increased visibility and exposure.

The first level of pre-screening of resumes via the internet is done on a keyword basis. You will increase the chances of your resume being searched and reviewed by potential employers if you incorporate key words and phrases that describe core skills required for the type of job you are looking for. Also, be sure to keep your resume updated and consistent across all of the sites you decide to use.

Do Your Research before you update your resume

As always, you need to do some research before you take a stab at updating your resume. There is no need to attempt this important endeavor in a vacuum. Search the internet for examples and try different formats or “looks” to see how they accommodate the information you wish to include. If you are at a complete loss, consider going to a reputable resume preparation service. If it helps your resume get noticed, it is worth the extra expenditure.

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