If you’ve been looking for a job and haven’t had any success, it might be time to take a critical look at your resume. Remember, this is a marketing document that needs to hook your reader immediately and eventually make the hiring manager want to get to know you.
Job seeker, stop lamenting about the job market and focus on something you can change – your resume. Quick update may be just the fix you need to put you ahead of the competition.
Don’t get too fussy with your design. The most effective resume employs a basic visual style. Use a standard serif font such as Time New Roman in 11 or 12 points. Your name should be in a font that is a little larger than the rest of the resume. Furthermore, headers should stand out in some way, so consider bolding and capitalising them. As a rule, keep your resume visually uncluttered.
Begin your resume with an address header. Design the header to also serve as the letterhead for your cover letter. Additionally, you can quickly cut and paste it onto any follow-up correspondence with the targeted company (what follow-up communication, you ask? Remember, always write a thank you after an interview and include pertinent details from your interview for a personal touch.). Using the same letterhead will make for a professional presentation.
The header consists of your full name, address, phone number, and email address. If you go by a common nickname, such as Jim for James, Dan for Daniel, or Becki for Rebecca, then use that on your resume. If you don’t do this, your new boss will forever call you by your formal name.
Only include one phone number on your header. You don’t want to give the hiring manager too many options on how to contact you. Also, make sure your email address sounds professional. If your home email has forever been honeypiebear@home because that’s your pet name, sign-up with one of the free email services during your job search.
Forget Your Objective
There was a time when resumes began with what the job seeker wanted. It was the actual line and made most hiring managers say collectively, “who cares?” Savvy job seekers begin their resumes with snapshots of their skills. This paragraph should fall under the header “Profile” or “Qualifications.”
Most hiring managers will look at your resume for 3 to 7 seconds, so make the most of each moment. A summary of your skills and qualifications will immediately tell your reader why you are the person for the job. How do you do this? First, write a basic summary that encompasses your experience, your expertise, and your accomplishments. Then take this summary and tailor it for each job you apply. It is critically important.
Hiring managers want to believe you want to work for their company. They want evidence that you’ve researched the job, you like the company, and you are motivated to work for them. They do not want to feel like you’re sending your resume to every company that has a job opening. Given a choice between two comparable candidates, all bosses will hire the candidate who appears to know and like the company.
Hence, your summary paragraph can go so far as to mimic the language in the job posting. It will help if the company uses keyword technology to weed out inappropriate resumes.
The summary paragraph can use sentence fragments.
“I am an experienced and dedicated business proposal writer…”
“Dedicated business proposal writer with over nine years of deadline-intensive experience.”
If applicable, you may need to sneak your keywords into your resume. You can list these at the end of your opening paragraph using a bullet format. So, at the end of your profile section introduce the bullet points with a connecting phrase and list them horizontally.
* Then List * Your Skills * In Bullet Points * That Maximize * The Space Available
* Too Much
Bullet points at the end of the profile paragraph are helpful for just about any profession. You can list accomplishments or any skills or keywords you want to highlight. Just remember to keep your list in agreement in tense.
Job experience is generally more important than education. So, this section should go after your profile. Even if you’re straight out of school, if you’ve had an internship, list this before your education. However, the operative word here is relevant experience. Don’t clutter your resume with details of all of the jobs you’ve ever had. Discriminate. You can mention other posts later in your resume under the heading “Work History,” to accurately portray your work life without making it difficult for the hiring manager to know why you’ve applied.
Highlighting the relevant experience first allows you to control how the hiring manager sees you. If you’ve only had one job that relates to the field you are interested in, make the most of that experience. List the position, the city, and the dates you had that job. Then, in bullet points under the heading list your accomplishments at that job. Focus on what you did for the company first. Brag. After that, list your job duties. Eventually, as your resume grows, you can cut out the job duties. Until then, make the most of the one job you have in your field.
Use sentence fragments for your bullet points. It saves space letting you say more with less clutter. Begin each bullet point with an active verb, such as “organised, sold, bought, ordered, oversaw, or managed.” Use the past tense for jobs that you are no longer doing, and use the present tense for the bullet points under your current post.
List your college, location, degree earned and year you graduated. No one needs to know that you went for nine years or that you failed Geometry. Also, no one needs to know where you went to high school. If applicable, in bullet points under your education, list any academic achievements or relevant coursework.
If you have specialised training, list that under your education. Continuing education shows dedication to the field. So, if you’ve taken time to remain current with your job skills, let hiring managers know.
Even if you do raise pot-bellied pigs for fun and profit, no one cares. Furthermore, no one cares if your bike, read poetry, or run marathons. It is pointless resume filler. If you have room left, reconsider your experience. Your hobby may relate to your job search. If you’re applying as a vet assistant, then you can list your pot-bellied pig enterprise under your relevant experience. Your volunteer work with an animal shelter is also relevant work experience. Do your best to capitalise on all of the specific reasons you would be an ideal candidate for each targeted job.
Job Searching Basics
Don’t sell yourself short but don’t overreach. Most job searchers instinctively know the job range for which they are qualified. If you’re straight out of college, you probably won’t be hired to be a CFO of a Fortune 500 company. Also, if you have an advanced degree and ten years of current experience in a field, you probably won’t be considered for an entry-level position. So, know thyself and then humbly brag about what you’ve done.