Getting in the Job Market
About Jobs: 10 Tips for Writing a Resume that Gets You Noticed in the Job Market
Perhaps after your divorce, you’re being forced to reenter the job market after an extended absence, or upon analyzing your personal finances, you determine a higher paying job is required in order to maintain your current standard of living as a newly single person. Well, today’s job market is competitive.
One way to set yourself apart from other applicants is to create a well-written and visually appealing resume that’s concise, yet communicates all of the relevant information an employer wants and needs to know about you. If you’re applying for jobs online, the resume you create will have the same content as a traditional, hard copy (printed) resume, but how you communicate your resume’s key content will be different.
The strategies for creating a resume that is described here, mainly apply to a hard copy resume, which in most cases, you’ll want to submit in conjunction with a well-written cover letter. The goal of your resume is to provide a summary of your education, work experience, and relevant skills, and to position yourself as the ideal applicant for the job you’re applying for. By investing the time necessary to customize your resume and target it for each position you apply for, your chances of getting invited in for that all-important job interview increase.
The goal of your resume is not necessarily to get you hired but to get an employer interested enough in you to want to meet you in-person. Using one, single-sided, 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper, it’s your responsibility to create a resume that effectively summarizes who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what skills you possess. This information should answer the question, How will you exceed, not just be able to meet, the expectations of the potential employer if you get hired for the position you’re applying for?”
There’s a fine line between positioning yourself as someone who is under-qualified or over-qualified for a specific position. So, it’s important that your resume carefully and accurately summarizes why you’re the ideal applicant for a specific job opening. There’s no room for generalities. When you submit your resume (and cover letter) to a potential employer, chances are it will be added to a pile consisting of dozens of resumes already submitted by other applicants. Thus, the human resources professional or person looking to fill a job opening will probably only spend between 15 and 30 seconds scanning the information you’ve included in your resume. That’s right, you only have a few seconds to make that essential first impression only using information you’ve included on a sheet of paper. If the content of your resume doesn’t catch the reader’s eye and capture their attention almost instantly, you’ll be passed over.
What your resume says about you is important, but equally important, is how you say it (the wording or phrasing you use). How the information looks on the printed page is also essential to create an effective resume. Your resume should follow a traditional and widely accepted resume format, such as a reverse chronological” format, and not look too cluttered on the printed page.
10 STEPS TO A WELL-WRITTEN RESUME.
1. After determining what job or position you’re interested in applying for, take the time to customize your resume so it clearly demonstrates that you possess the necessary experience, skill set, and education to fulfill the responsibilities of that specific job. In addition to listing past jobs and work-related experiences, provide specific quantitative and qualitative examples of your accomplishments. For example, Responsible for boosting sales by 25 percent in Q1 2007,” or Managed a team of 25 employees responsible for generating $5.2 million in annual revenue.”
2. Before writing and formatting your resume, ask yourself the following questions: What specific job and job title are you applying for? What qualifications, experience, and skills are employers looking for? What work experience do you have that directly relates to the employer’s wants and needs? What specifically can you offer the employer? How would hiring you, as opposed to another applicant, benefit the employer? How can you help solve problems the employer is currently facing? As you create your resume, its content should answer these questions.
3. A traditional printed resume has several distinct sections, including the heading (which lists your full name, address, phone number, cell phone number and email address); your objective (one sentence describing the type of job you’re looking for and why you’re qualified for that job); a list of your relevant job-related skills, a listing of your past work experience (typically listed in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job listed first); a listing of your education (also listed in reverse chronological, with your most recent degree or diploma listed first); and a listing of awards, certifications and licenses you possess. A separate section might also list your military experience, if applicable. Spend time deciding exactly what information should be included within each section of your resume, keeping in mind that space is limited.
4. As you actually begin to write and format your resume, use words, key phrases and bullet points that will get attention. It’s not necessary to use complete sentences when describing your past employment history and work-related responsibilities, for example. As you list your work experience, be sure to include the employer’s name, city and state, your dates of employment, the job title you held, a brief summary of what your work-related responsibilities included, and a list of bullet points (no more than three or four) outlining your biggest and proudest on-the-job accomplishments.
5. When listing your education, don’t include your grades, class rank or overall grade point average, unless this information is extremely impressive (i.e. you graduated with a straight A”, 4.0-average) or ranked number one in your graduating class.
6. It is not acceptable, for any reason whatsoever, to lie or stretch the truth within your resume. Companies will typically check the information and your references. You will not get hired if it’s discovered you lied.
7. Throughout your resume, use strong, straightforward and descriptive language to quickly communicate important information. Action words, which are usually verbs, should be used to make your accomplishments sound even better, again, without stretching the truth.
8. Once you’ve written the first draft of your resume, review it carefully and remove any unnecessary words or redundant content. The information should be conveyed in a well-organized manner that adheres to a recognized resume format. If you’re not sure what a resume format looks like, either purchase a resume writing book from a bookstore, purchase resume-creation software for your computer, download a free resume template for your word processor, or look at other people’s resumes.
9. Before submitting your resume to an employer, proof-read it carefully. Next, proof-read it again and again! Now, have someone you know review it. Under no circumstances should your resume contain any spelling errors, grammatically mistakes or misused words. An employer will not only be looking at your resume to learn about your experience, skills, and accomplishments, they’ll also use it as a measure of how well you communicate in writing (an essential skill in today’s business world).
10. Print your resume on good quality, white, off-white or cream-colored resume paper, using a high-quality inkjet or laser printer. Any office supply store will sell packages of premium resume paper. Black ink should be used when printing your resume. Select one easy to read font, and avoid over-using bold, underlined or italic text. Never photocopy your resume. Each resume should be customized and then printed for each employer. Also, unless you’re applying for some type of artistic job, your resume should not contain any photographs, decorations or artwork.
Contrary to popular belief, at the bottom of your resume, you do not need to include a line that says, References available upon request,” nor do you need to list your references. Also, under the Employment History” or Work Experience” section of your resume, if you’re new to the full-time workforce, it’s okay to include summer jobs, internships, volunteer work, or other situations where you’ve used the same skills that are required to fill the job you’re applying for. Ideally, however, you want to demonstrate relevant work experience, an upwardly mobile career path, and no significant (and unexplainable) time gaps in your employment history.
If you don’t consider yourself to be a good writer, hire a professional resume writer to assist you in creating your resume. This, however, will cost at least $100.00. Utilizing resume-creation software, such as WinWay Resume Deluxe ($39.95, WinWay Software, www.winway.com), can make the resume writing and formatting process much faster and easier. If you’re creating your resume using Microsoft Word, you can download a free resume template to make the formatting process easier (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx).
Invest the time necessary to create the best resume possible. This will ultimately help you land a desirable job faster and more efficiently, especially if the resume is submitted in conjunction with an equally well-written cover letter. If you haven’t written or updated a resume in a while, don’t be afraid to create multiple drafts and revisions of your work before it’s ready to submit to employers. Ultimately, you want to be proud of your resume and totally confident that it conveys the most relevant information about you while showcasing you as the best possible applicant for a job opening. How you communicate this information will require some creativity, especially if you’re hoping to set yourself apart from other applicants.