Far too many, in my opinion, assume they cannot write a good resume and choose to pay someone a lot of money to prepare their resume for them. Conversely, many others wrongly assume that they can get by just throwing a resume together on a moment’s notice. Both of these viewpoints are flawed. No, you do not need someone else to do the work in order to have a great resume. On the other hand, yes, you do need to become familiar with how to construct a resume that will get a hiring manager’s attention. It may take some time and effort, but after you make that effort, you will have a quality resume that you can easily keep up to date as your career evolves. Best of all, other than perhaps a reference book or two, you will not have to spend money to have it!
A good resume is one which sets you apart from the competition. This may not be as hard as it seems. After all, the majority of resumes are poorly written and do not represent the candidate well. Instead, your resume should showcase your background and qualifications in such a way that the hiring manager would seem incompetent if he or she did not invite you in for the interview. Here are a few tips from the professional resume writers to help you achieve that goal.
1. Be honest. It should surprise no one that employers can and will verify key facts on your resume. It’s not that difficult for them to do. If they do find something significantly misleading or false, you could get terminated. Even if you simply over state your abilities, you will have a difficult time matching your performance with the expectations your resume has set.
2. Be concise. One page should do unless you have several years of experience. Assuming the latter, definitely keep it to two pages and learn to edit and prune information. Keep only the most necessary and impressive. Think in terms of using the interview rather than your resume to fill in details as needed. The reader should be able to skim or quickly read your resume to get all of the critical details.
3. This is basic, but it is surprising how many fail to use bold headings between sections. For example, use headings such as “Objectives” and “Employment History.” Put your contact information at the top. Make sure the phone number you provide has an answering machine or voice mail associated with it. Contact information goes at the very top of the page. Employers should never have to search to find out how to get in touch with you.
4. The career objectives seems to be a especially difficult for many. Get used to asking for what you really want. Just be sure to stay within your capabilities. It is not good form, for example, to be asking for the same position as the hiring manager who interviews you. Do make sure, however, that your objectives section shows that you are confident and quite capable of getting things done.
5. Summarize your work history with an emphasis on experience, skills, and accomplishments. Using bullet points is an easy way to list the details in a clean, readable way. The important this here is to demonstrate that you are productive and know how to get things done.
6. Be selective when summarizing your work history. Certainly anything that, as mentioned above, proves that you can get things done should usually be included. However, give consideration to items that are not relevant to the type of position you are seeking and eliminate them. Instead, expand on things that would make a direct impact on the types of businesses you are applying to. Consider reducing or even leaving off information that is quite old. Keep in mind that a resume is a sales tool, not a tell-all autobiography.
7. Make sure your resume is highly readable. Use one font – one that is fairly standard. You never want to appear cute by using, for example, a cursive font. Don’t try to squeeze everything onto the page by using a tiny font size. This is an indication, instead, that you need to do more editing.
8. Use action words like designed, initiated, managed, etc. to describe your qualifications. This is often one of the more tricky resume writing skills to acquire. Try looking at good resume samples to get ideas. Overall, keep in mind that you want to appear that you are highly competent and that you accomplished things. Read your resume over to assure that it does not give the impression that you simply showed up for work each day.
9. In your education section don’t forget about courses, certifications, formal trainings, achievements, and awards. But, don’t go overboard with items such as trainings that are not pertinent to the job you are seeking. This section can also help if you need some critical experience with new technology, or experience in an area that you have not yet worked. By that I mean you can take night-school classes or training, for example, to show that you are seriously prepared for that particular type of work.
10. Don’t feel you have to write a “one size fits all” resume. The benefit of writing your own resume is that you have lots of backup materials that you can draw from if you are pursuing two or three slightly different opportunities. Also, if it fits your schedule, take some time to review a prospective company’s web site and “tune” your resume accordingly prior to sending it to them.
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