Resume writing can be challenging, but it's an essential skill for anyone in the job market. Whether you're hunting for work or just brushing up your credentials, the following tips can help you build a professional, effective resume…
Rock That Resume
Your resume is your most important tool for the job hunt. Along with your cover letter, it gets your foot in the door and shows your would-be employer why, out of all the other applicants, he or she wants to meet you. So before you send in that next job application, review these dos and don'ts to make sure your resume is polished and ready.
Common wisdom holds that unless your potential employer has asked for a curriculum vitae (C.V.), the long-form resume, no one will read past the first page. While this may not always be true, it underscores an important point: Brevity is your friend. Use short, declarative sentences and concise phrasing to convey only the most essential information. This makes it easier for the employer to find what you want him or her to see; you can elaborate on your cover letter.
Unless you don't have much work experience, you don't have to include every job you've ever held. The same goes for awards, skills and any other element on your resume besides education (include all degrees held from the bachelor's level and above, but always exclude high school). In order to keep it brief, just focus on the most relevant and interesting items, while making sure that you still show the full breadth of your abilities.
It's important to tweak your resume for each job application to make sure that you're highlighting the most relevant work experience for the position. You can do this by switching out items in your 'selected experience' (see above), or emphasizing the duties from your past jobs that most overlap with the requirements of the one for which you're applying. It can also be helpful to go through this process once a year, even if you're not seeking a new job, just to keep your 'master resume' fresh.
Layout is important! It helps you direct the eye to key information, and shows that you pay attention to detail. Consider using elements like bulleted lists and bold headers, think about things like alignment (left aligned is usually better than justified) and, above all, make sure everything is consistent throughout.
Little errors on your resume can make you look sloppy, or even incompetent. Check for spelling and grammar as well as consistency in the layout and accuracy of information. If you can, have someone else check a resume over at least once before sending it in.
Including selective information and highlighting different job skills does not mean making things up. It may be tempting to 'pad' your resume to more closely match the job requirements, but when you get caught - and you will - not only will you lose this job, you may find yourself blackballed. In small towns and tight-knit industries employers do share information, and getting caught fabricating your resume is a fast way to shut doors on yourself forever.
It's important to be creative and use a layout that catches the eye, but you also want to make sure that information comes first. Avoid colored paper or layouts that bury your relevant experience. However, you may have a little more flexibility with certain jobs. For example, if you're applying for a graphic design position, you want to ensure that the layout showcases your design skills.
Don't...Exclude Key Information
There are certain oft-forgotten things that you should always include on your resume:
· Contact information: Include as much as possible, including home or office phone, mobile number, email, professional website and any info the employer would need to contact you during the day.
· Dates: Make sure to include the month and year of when you started and finished each job, as well as the year that you received each listed degree.
· Locations: Most employers expect to see the city and state of each job you've held. If a position was via telecommuting, include the city and state of the main office and a note that indicates that you were a telecommuter.
First, your resume should never include the pronouns 'me' or 'I.' Write in short phrases that exclude pronouns, such as 'Collaborated on the award-winning project....'
Second, you should never include a photo of yourself or intimate details like your age, race, date of birth, social security number, marital status, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. This information is irrelevant, and can be controversial - it's against the law in most places to hire based on these details.
Finally, there are certain details of your previous jobs that are also 'too much information.' Don't include your salary, reason for leaving past jobs or specific contact information of past employers. Your new employer will get this information if and when he or she needs it.