PREPARE YOUR RESUME

Your resume is your most important calling card in your job search. The following writing tips and examples will help you craft a top quality resume.

 

RESUME LENGTH
ORGANIZE YOUR RESUME
DO'S AND DONT'S
SCANNABLE AND ONLINE RESUMES
COVER LETERS
ACTION VERBS

 

RESUME LENGTH

If you are just graduating, have fewer than five years of work experience or are contemplating a complete career change, a one-page resume will probably suffice. Some technical and executive candidates require multiple-page resumes. If you have more than five years of experience and a track record of accomplishments, a summary at the top of the first page can be helpful.

How Much Information Should I Include?
Your resume is not intended to tell your whole life story. Instead, view your resume as a marketing tool that you will craft to get just enough of that hiring manager's attention that they'll be prompted to call you in for a personal interview. In today's marketplace employers are getting more applicants than ever. In the process of weeding out the good from the bad, the first step involves a quick glance through the resumes to eliminate any candidates who clearly are not qualified. Therefore, your resume needs to pass the skim test. Ask yourself if your top credentials for this position immediately stand out, especially in the top third of the first page? Also, make sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

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ORGANIZING YOUR RESUME

First things first: Make sure your name and contact information gets center stage at the top of your resume in a clearly readable font. When including an e-mail address, ensure that it is professional-sounding, like yourname@email.com. Resist using another more casual address such as sexy@email.com for obvious reasons. Also, check your home and cell phone answering machine messages - is the message a potential employer will hear professional sounding? Does the message clearly confirm the phone number or residence name to ensure the caller that he or she has reached the right number?

Research shows that we have got 10 seconds, sometimes less, to get someone's attention- whether it is in a presentation, a print ad, a commercial, or even your resume. When employers conduct that first weeding-out process of their stack of resumes, there is very little deep reading going on. Therefore, it is crucial your resume gets right to work selling your credentials. Your key selling points need to be featured at the top of the first page. For this reason, the top third of the first page of a resume is known as the "Hot Zone." The theory is that if your Hot Zone is hot enough to grab the employer's attention, he or she may continue to read the rest of your resume instead of shuttling it to the dreaded "no" pile.
Using the Hot Zone

If you have experience relevant to the job requirements, place your Experience section first.
If you are light in work experience, but have a degree, put your Education section first.
Include a brief career objective to draw immediate attention to your resume (if appropriate for the job you are applying for).
You may also include a Professional Summary statement below your contact information on the first page.

 

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RESUME DO'S AND DONT'S

Do's

Feature Your Accomplishments: When including information about the positions you've held, go beyond listing the duties and responsibilities involved. Give several examples of things you did or recognitions you've received in each position that demonstrate how you've made a difference.

 

Here are twelve examples of accomplishments to include on your resume (or to mention when negotiating a raise or a promotion):

  1. Increased revenues
  2. Saved money
  3. Increased efficiency
  4. Cut overhead
  5. Increased sales
  6. Improved workplace safety
  7. Purchasing accomplishments
  8. New products/New lines
  9. Improved record-keeping processes
10. Increased productivity
11. Successful advertising campaign
12. Effective budgeting

Customize your Resume Toward the Position to which you are Applying. Dedicate the most space on your resume describing the experience or accomplishments that are most relevant to the position to which you are applying.
Proofread Thoroughly. Then give it to several colleagues to get fresh perspectives on grammar, spelling, or formatting gaffes you may have missed.
Use a Plain Font and Print on Plain Paper. Use 10-14 pt. Font sizes. Stylistic embellishments on your resume (while sometimes useful for careers in the creative arts) will serve only to compete in a negative way with your professional accomplishments for the attention of the employer.
Use a Telegraphic Writing Style. Eliminating the use of "I" and other personal pronouns will give your resume its most professional voice.
Keep your resume to 1-2 pages in length.
Include Dates. Remember to include the dates for each position listed on your resume. Month and year are a must.
Use a Chronological format, if possible. Most employers prefer to see work experience listed, job-by-job, in reverse chronological order (from most recent to most distant work experience), with pertinent information regarding responsibilities and accomplishments listed directly under the company name and job title where they were achieved.
Functional resumes (which divide your achievements into functional categories, like "leadership," "sales," etc.) are less desirable, but can be helpful for new graduates or candidates in career transitions.
Eliminate Unnecessary Words. Phrases such as, "responsible for," "duties include," and the tag line "References available upon request" are already assumed by the reader. Make sure that you don’t use the same verbs.
Be concise. Ironically, one of the things employers relish in a resume is what is NOT there: i.e. the amount of remaining white space on the page. Employers prefer formats that are bulleted and brief, versus resumes that contain chunky paragraphs of text.
Be Truthful. Degrees, dates of employment and accomplishments are being verified now more than ever.

Don'ts

Don't include reasons for leaving a job on a resume. The interview is the appropriate forum to discuss these issues. Regardless of the way you word it on the resume, the reader can find a negative connotation to even the most reasonable explanation and therefore turn you down for an interview opportunity.
Don't use exact dates (i.e. 8/31/03). Months and years are sufficient.
Don't repeat yourself. If you performed similar jobs for more than one employer, use the space on your resume to distinguish the accomplishments you achieved in each position.
Don't include personal information. Remarks regarding your height, weight, physical appearance, or health, and photographs are not welcome additions.
Don't include salary information. Save it for the interview. If information is requested regarding your salary expectations, reveal in your cover letter that your salary is negotiable pending further discussion of position expectations.
Don't list High School or Grammar school information. Particularly true if you are listing any college education.

 

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SCANNABLE AND ONLINE RESUMES

The Scannable resume
To make candidate databases more efficient, many companies have implemented document scanners, or Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems, to quickly scan resumes into a master database. Resumes can then be retrieved from the system using keyword searches. Here are some pointers for making your resume scannable:

1. Use keywords

keywords increase your visibility in a database search
focus on nouns rather than verbs (for example, "Webmaster" is clearer than, "in charge of maintenance, design, and security of Web Site."
Picture your resume as a huge list of keywords- think about the ones that will get the most attention in a search
2. Keep it simple
in general, the most scannable resumes are also the simplest ones
Keep your text size between 10 and 14 points
Include your name at the top of every page
Put your name and contact info on separate lines
Use a space to separate slashes (1 / 00), most scanners have difficulty interpreting characters that touch one another
Use boldface type or capital letters for headings
Use discretion with italics, horizontal rules and underlines- not all scanning programs can read these decorative elements. If you decide to use these elements to highlight your text, just make sure no characters are touching
Remove ampersands, hollow bullet points, foreign characters, currency symbols, or any other unusual graphics that the scanner may have difficulty reading
Print your resume on plain white or extremely -light colored paper that is free of speckles and other decorative elements
The Online Resume
If you are going to post your resume to an online job board, you'll want a resume that is useful and user-friendly
In the world of the Web, keywords also rule.
Hiring managers also use keyword searches to harvest resumes from the internet that match specific job requirements
develop your resume in a traditional format and then extract choice words by which a recruiter may search. Not only should these words demonstrate your skills and experience; they should also reflect the type of job you're trying to find

* Final Tip: Never put anything on a resume that fabricates your Education, experience or dates of employment. Make sure that there will be no problems with these and your reference checks.

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COVER LETTERS

Highlight aspects of your experience that are most useful to a potential employer.
Also provide you with the opportunity to show what you know about your field and the company you're writing to.
large gaps in employment history
re-entering the job market
changing the focus of your career
moving to a city where the company is located
Your cover letter can explain these things in a positive way

TIPS ON COVER LETTERS

A. Wherever possible, address the person by name. (call the company and ask who the Personnel Director is) if it is a blind ad, "Sir or Madam" is acceptable. You can also skip the salutation.
B. First Paragraph
express interest in the company./opportunity
reference the ad, person who referred you, and your awareness of the company
C. Second Paragraph
speak to the requirements of the ad
pick 2-3 points where your qualifications match their requirements and touch on those in a brief manner
or, show you have done your homework on the co. if it is a cold-contact letter
address any issues regarding discontinuity of work history, or entering into a new career path
D. Third Paragraph
Ask for the opportunity to meet with the hiring manager to expand on your qualifications and to discuss how your experience can help the company reach their goals.

Your cover letter is one more opportunity for that hiring manager to get motivated to call you for an interview.

Final Thoughts: Your resume and cover letters are a reflection of who you are and what you want. As long as you're honest, and keep your reader in mind, the rest will fall into place.

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ACTION VERBS

Accomplished
Achieved
Adapted
Addressed
Administered
Advanced
Allocated
Analyzed
Appraised
Arranged
Assigned
Assisted
Attained
Controlled
Coordinated
Corresponded
Directed
Established

Explained
Extracted
Facilitated
Familiarized
Fashioned
Focused
Guided
Influenced
Initiated
Integrated
Interpreted
Led
Maintained
Managed
Marketed
Mediated
Moderated
Monitored

Moderated
Monitored
Motivated
Negotiated
Oversaw
Performed
Processed
Produced
Promoted Recommended
Regulated
Represented Researched
Restored
Restructured
Set
Streamlined
Systemized