Key Points: How to write a resume What to do and what not to do.
Writing a resume is describing who you are in 2 pages or less. Resume objective is to get an interview. It is an advertisement of who the person is. Research also tells us that your resume will be quickly scanned, somewhere between 10 to 18 seconds when someone reads it. This means the decision to interview a candidate is usually based on an overall first impression of the resume, a quick screening that so impresses the reader and convinces them of the candidate's qualifications that an interview results. As a result, the top half of the first page of your resume will either make or break you. By the time they have read the first few lines, you have either caught their interest, or your resume has failed. That is why we say that your resume is an ad. You hope it will have the same result as a well-written ad: to get the reader to respond to you.
If you ask 10 people how to write a resume you will get 10 different answers.
Here are some general facts:
If you are applying for several different positions, you should adapt your resume to each one. There is nothing wrong with having several different resumes, each with a different objective, each specifically crafted for a different type of position. You may even want to change some parts of your resume for each job you apply for. Have an objective that is perfectly matched with the job you are applying for. Remember, you are writing advertising copy, not your life story.
The "summary" or "summary of qualifications" consists of several concise statements that focus the reader's attention on the most important qualities, achievements and abilities you have to offer. Those qualities should be the most compelling demonstrations of why they should hire you instead of the other candidates.
How to write a summary?
The most common ingredients of a well-written summary are as follows.
- A short phrase describing your profession
- Followed by a statement of broad or specialized expertise
- Followed by two or three additional statements related to any of the following:
- Breadth or depth of skills
- A special or well-documented accomplishment
- A history of awards, promotions, or superior performance commendations
- One or more professional or appropriate personal characteristics
- A sentence describing professional objective or interest.
- Skills and accomplishments
- Areas of expertise
- Career highlights
- Professional highlights
Education: List education in reverse chronological order, degrees or licenses first, followed by certificates and advanced training. Set degrees apart so they are easily seen. Put in boldface whatever will be most impressive. Don't include any details about college except your major and distinctions or awards you have won, unless you are still in college or just recently graduated. Include grade-point average only if over 3.4. List selected course work if this will help convince the reader of your qualifications for the targeted job.
Do include advanced training.
It has focus. A resume needs an initial focus to help the reader understand immediately. Don't make the reader go through the whole resume to figure out what your profession is and what you can do. Think of the resume as an essay with a title and a summary opening sentence.
1. The resume is visually enticing, a work of art. Simple clean structure. Very easy to read. Symmetrical. Balanced. Uncrowded. As much white space between sections of writing as possible; sections of writing that are no longer than six lines and shorter if possible.
2. There is uniformity and consistency in the use of italics, capital letters, bullets, boldface, and underlining. Absolute parallelism in design decisions. For example, if a period is at the end of one job's dates, a period should be at the end of all jobs' dates; if one degree is in boldface, all degrees should be in boldface.
3. All the basic, expected information is included. A resume must have the following key information: your name, phone number, and your email address at the top of the first page, a listing of jobs held, in reverse chronological order, educational degrees including the Do not punctuate end of sentences with period.
Experience before education...usually. Experience sections should come first, before education, in most every case. This is what not to put on a resume
- The word "resume" at the top of the resume
- Rambling "objective" statements
- Salary information
- Full addresses of former employers
- Reasons for leaving jobs
- Names of supervisors
- Choose a job objective or not...
- Summarize your key points or not..
1. Format and presentation determine whether the resume is read
the average resume is scanned, not read, for only 8-15 seconds. It either creates a strong impression to the reader immediately or it is set aside. It is similar to the impression you make on the interviewer. Therefore, make sure your resume is wearing the equivalent of a "business suit" and not jeans and flip-flops!
Choose a format that complements your career goal. If you are seeking a job in your field and have experience, use a chronological resume. This resume starts with your most recent job and works backward. Conversely, if you are seeking a new type of work, you may want to consider the functional/combination resume. This style groups your skills together and includes a short chronological work history at the end.
Other ways to insure that your presentation gets noticed include:
- No errors: use spell check and also have someone review your resume for missing or misused words
- Use a consistent format and use of capitalization and punctuation throughout
- Use no more than 2 fonts
- Include your name, a phone and email address
not all accomplishments have to be big, but they have to show that you got results as you carried out your responsibilities. Often, they are something you are proud of or, they can simply quantify what you have done on a daily basis. Many of your routine activities can be quantified and written as accomplishments that demonstrate your experience and knowledge, and proof of how you’ve helped the company!
Here are some things to consider when naming accomplishments. Quantify whenever possible. For instance, did you:
- save the company money? How much and how?
- help improve sales? By how much?
- improve productivity and efficiency?
- implement any new systems or processes?
- help launch any new products or services?
- achieve more with (same or fewer) resources?
- resolve a major problem with little investment?
- participate in any technical/operational improvements?
- exceed accepted standards for quality or quantity?
- identify the need for a program or service?
- prepare any original reports, studies or documents?
- serve on any committees? What was the outcome?
- get elected to any boards, teams or task forces?
- resolve customer problems?
- get rated as outstanding in performance reviews?
3. Avoid common errors in resume writing
many job seekers either don't know or don't understand the many items that do not belong in a resume. They include the following:
- Do not use "I", "me" or "my" statements; use the telegraphic method and drop the pronoun to make it more active. Instead of "I” wrote the 40-page employee manual", say "wrote 40-page employee manual"
- Avoid the use of the words "responsible for" and "duties included"
- Do not include personal information, such as age, health, ethnicity, marriage and family status. Employers will throw your resume out if it has such information because they could someday be accused of hiring bias
- Do not include photographs unless you are a model or actor
- Do not explain your reasons for leaving your previous jobs or employment gaps
- Don't send extra papers such as letters of recommendation, certificates or samples of your work. They clutter your presentation and are too premature. Use in the interview if appropriate
- Never include salary information
- Do not forward a list of references –just state “references available upon request”