A resume is a summary of your education, skills, accomplishments, and experience. While it won't get you the job, it is a critical first step to get your foot in the door for an interview. In today's competitive job market you will need every advantage you can get, so make sure your resume is concise, well put-together, and a reflection of your strengths and accomplishments.
- Keep your resume brief and to the point. Two pages are generally enough and never more than four. It gives a summary of qualifications, which you'll be able to elaborate on in the interview.
- Proof read, and then have a friend proofread it again. Nothing kills your chance of an interview faster than a resume that contains sloppy spelling or grammatical errors. Carelessness will likely be seen as a reflection of your work habits. Pay attention to detail and ensure that your resume is professional and accurate.
- Use positive action verbs. Resumes should highlight strengths and accomplishments. Use words like "achieved" and "improved," you will position yourself as a competent worker with a positive attitude.
- Never lie or exaggerate the truth. That's what reference checks are for!
- Always proof read for spelling and grammatical errors. Many employers will throw out a resume as soon as they spot an error of this sort.
- Use the first person ("I") voice. This makes you sound like you are a "doer" instead of just a "talker."
- Avoid clichés like "I'm an excellent team player" or "No job is too great or too small for me." Everyone uses these phrases; set yourself apart from the rest by not using them.
- Write in a serious, professional, and polite tone. Never try to be sarcastic or comical when presenting your self to a potential employer.
- Send your resume as an MS Word or as a Text file if submitting by email. The MS suite is standard software at most organizations. Some prefer text because of virus concerns. If you are submitting a paper resume only use white or ivory paper. If copies of your resume are needed for other decision-makers, white and ivory pages copy more cleanly.
- Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Employers don't want to know why you think you "may not be completely qualified." Tell them why you are qualified.
- Never include personal information like age, height, race, or photos.
- Always include a cover letter. Clearly state the position you are applying for and demonstrate how your qualifications will meet the job's requirements.
- Keep it simple. Your resume should be no more than two pages long. Three pages max. On average, a decision-maker will look at your resume for only 30 seconds; keep it short and precise.
The Perfect Resume
- The header to your resume goes at the top of the page and should contain your contact information: names, address, contact phone number, fax number and email address. Make sure the header is up-to-date, and use a permanent address wherever possible.
- For a contact phone number, use one you can answer uninterruped most of the time. Make sure you have a professional sounding message on any answering device. Avoid music and gimmicks. If you have a URL, make sure you consider its relevance before including it on your resume.
- Begin the body of your resume with a statement about your main career objective or goal. This should be one or two sentences, and should provide the reader with a sense of what you hope to achieve in the short-term with respect to your career.
- List, in reverse chronological order, any training or education you received that relates to your career goals. Be sure to include any academic awards or achievements.
- This is the biggest section of any resume. Here's where you list, in reverse chronological order, your work experience. Clearly indicate the name of past employers, your position and the dates you worked for each employer.
- If you've been in the work force for a long time, it's not always necessary to list the details of your entire career. Summarize experience older that 15 years or that is not relevant to the position. The same applies to part-time and summer positions you held as a student.
- Thoughtfully list experience that is relevant to the position(s) you are applying for. Outline your main roles and responsibilities with each position, focussing on your achievements or accomplishments. Don't forget to list platforms, environments, tools, etc.
- Finally, try to fill in any gaps in your work history with a brief explanation. Employers will expect you to account for your time out of the work force.
- If you have any volunteer experience that is relevant to your career, list it separately from your work experience.
- If you have any particular skills that were not included in your Education or training, list them here.
- Many employers like to see a brief list of your personal interests and hobbies. This gives them a better idea of who you are and what interests you.
- Many resumes offer "references available upon request" while others include three professional references with the resume. Either is fine.
- If you are going to list references then use people you have worked for (supervisor/manager) or studied under (not friends or family members). Make sure you have asked your references for permission to include their names email address and phone numbers on your resume.