Writing a resume seems like a straightforward endeavor--until you actually sit down to create one. For example, what's the right length? Do you need an objective statement? And what changes should you make, if any, if you want to reapply for a certain position?
Following are some guidelines for navigating these and other common resume quandaries:
Does the rule about one-page resumes still apply? Will I turn off employers if mine is longer?
Let your experience dictate the length of your resume. More than half of the senior executives recently polled by Robert Half International believe that a single page is the ideal length for a staff-level resume; 44 percent said they prefer two pages. People with limited professional experience, such as recent college graduates, will probably want to keep their resumes to one page, but someone who has been in the workforce for many years may need two pages to fully outline his or her qualifications. The key is to neither include filler--details that don't relate to the position you're applying for--nor leave out important information in an attempt to meet a certain page length.
Should I include an objective statement on my resume?
No, an objective statement is not necessary. In fact, most objective statements are redundant: If you've submitted a resume to a software firm, the hiring manager already knows you're "seeking a challenging position in the high-tech industry," for instance. Instead, consider including a short summary statement of your relevant professional skills at the top of your resume, so employers can quickly get a sense of your qualifications.
I'd like to make a career switch. How can I modify my resume to target a job in a completely different industry?
Focus on your transferable skills, and consider changing your resume format to better highlight them. For example, consider a functional resume or a combination resume to explain your strengths in relevant areas, such as communication or leadership, and downplay previous roles and irrelevant job duties.
Also, conduct a little research into the new industry. Every field has its own language. Use keywords and phrases from the job description throughout your cover letter and resume, as appropriate, to boost your chances of grabbing a hiring manager's attention.
I took a step back in my career because of the weak job market and have been working in a position I'm overqualified for. Now I want to get back on track. How do I apply for a position that's on par with my prior experience level?
Use a functional or combination resume to draw attention to your skills and qualifications instead of your current job title. Also, use your cover letter to briefly explain your background and, perhaps, the circumstances that caused you to take on a lower-level role. Whatever you do, don't eliminate your most recent job from your work history. It's unethical, and you may be surprised by how understanding most hiring managers are about the challenges of today's job market.
I applied for a job a couple of months ago and recently saw the ad reposted. Should I submit my resume again, and, if so, what changes should I make to it?
Rather than reapply, follow up with the firm to express your continued interest in the position. As long as you haven't received a rejection letter, try to find out who the hiring manager is and call or email him or her. It's not uncommon for firms to re-post a job listing. Sometimes the position's duties have changed, or the person who was hired for the role did not work out.
I held my most recent job for just one month. Do I need to include it on my resume? I'm worried it will look bad to employers.
The answer to this question depends on the situation. If the position is relevant in any way to the job you're targeting, you should include it on your resume. Just know that the hiring manager will wonder about your short tenure. Address the issue in your cover letter and have some talking points ready if you are called in for an interview. If the position is unrelated to your career path--perhaps you are primarily an office manager but worked as a food server in order to earn some extra money--you can probably leave the position off your resume. In general, employment gaps of a few months won't surprise most hiring managers, particularly in this economy.
by Clea Badion