At some point in his or her lives, virtually everyone who is looking for work will need to create a resume. The importance of a good resume cannot be overstated because it is often the only link between you and that good job you are seeking.
It is often said that first impressions last, but a resume is often the only way an employer can determine whether or not he may even want to ever meet you for that first impression. You definitely don’t want that resume that you worked so hard to prepare ending up in the round file (trash can). Here are some helpful hints that will help you achieve the perfect resume to land that dream job you have been seeking.
The first three things employers look for in a resume: Clarity, clarity, & clarity.
Other things they look for:
(1) Neatness (no coffee stains or crumpled edges)
(2) Formatting (follows industry standard norms)
(3) Missing information (i.e. unexplained gaps in employment history)
(4) Questionable claims (e.g. do you really speak fluent Swahili?)
(5) Length (1 page is best but no longer than 2 pages)
(6) Generous blank areas for making notes
(7) Spelling and grammatical errors
Three Basic Styles:
(1) Chronological: (most common)
- Emphasizes employment experience
- Documents growth in responsibility over time
- Best used when pursuing growth on a stable career path
(2) Functional: (less common)
- Emphasizes achievements
- Focuses on establishment of usable skill sets
- Best used when pursuing jobs outside of current career path
(3) Combination or Hybrid: (rare)
- Not recommended for most people
- Often lacks clarity
- May confuse employer
Decide which type of resume best meets your needs and career goals. Keep in mind that most employers are more familiar with the chronological type and prefer it to the functional type. It is best to use the functional resume only when you are changing careers or when a chronological resume would not adequately portray your accumulated experience.
Basic Parts of a Chronological Resume
- Your Full Name: Make sure you list your name here exactly as you wish it to appear on your Federal Tax Return. Often, if you are hired, the HR department will use this information to set up your file, and once established, it could be difficult to change.
- Address: Make sure it is up to date. You’d be surprised how many people lose out on desirable jobs because they can’t be located at the address listed on the resume.
- Phone Number: Don’t forget the area code.
- Email Address: Make sure it works before you list it.
- No longer recommended for most resumes as they tend to all read the same.
- Employers tend to skip over this part.
- Tends to be somewhat limiting.
- Consider using a summary instead.
- May be appropriate for recent graduates and some entry-level jobs.
- This is the most important part of the resume because it will either motivate the reader to either continue reading or place your resume in the round file.
- One or two sentences maximum.
- Focus on who you are, what you do, and where you are going.
- Keep it simple and right to the point.
- A well-written summary can open up opportunities that you had not anticipated.
- List your current or last-held job first.
- Then list previously held jobs, arranged reverse chronologically.
- Go back at least 15 years.
- List the Dates of Employment, Employer’s name, City and State, and Position Held. If you held more than one position at this employer treat it as a separate listing.
- List your duties and achievements. Leave out items that are common skills and expected for the position held. For example, a receptionist should not say Excellent phone skills because this is expected for that position.