You’ve probably heard that old saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Well, that advice is especially true when it comes to resumes, as a good resume may start you on the path to a wonderful career, whereas a bad resume may leave you underemployed, or even worse, unemployed. In today’s marketplace, it’s even tougher, as software system often sort resumes by distinct keywords, eliminating hordes of resumes that will never reach the desk of the Human Resources Director or the Hiring Manager The following tips should help you construct an effective resume.
If you’ve been in the job market for any length of time over the past 10 years, chances are you’ve received an email from a recruiter asking you to apply for a position that was totally out of your wheelhouse. If so, it occurred because the recruiter picked-up a keyword or two from your resume and did a mass email to everyone whose keyword-searched resumes showed any results, hoping for a placement score. That’s an extreme example of the keyword search, but these days it happens often in more legitimate recruiting firms, as well as individual companies. Due to the sheer volume of resumes, an automated keyword search is often the first step, and without the right keywords, your resume might not make it any further.
What are the right keywords to include in your resume? In essence, they are titles and terms commonly used in your particular industry.
If you’re in technology, include applicable keywords in your resume such as:
For a construction resume, use such words as:
If you have been consistently working in one field and wish to stay in it, a chronological resume is probably your best bet. It typically lists your employment history starting with your current/most recent position, working its way in reverse to previous positions & experience. Your education history should be displayed in the same manner.
If you’re looking to change fields, a functional resume be your best option. In this style, you typically list your skillset and abilities in order to highlight the attributes that may be transferable in your newly desired field. List your education history at the bottom.
If you’re undecided, experiment with a combination of the two styles. List your skills and talents, but list them chronologically from most recent to oldest, along with pertinent positions & experience, and education history.
Unless you’re a painter or graphic artist who wants to show off creativity, keep it basic and readable. Use an easy-on-the-eyes font, such as Tahoma, Calibri or Arial. Use the same font throughout and use bold and italics only as necessary. Unless you have decades of relevant experience pertinent to the specific job you’re applying for, keep it to one or two pages.
Begin your resume with your name, city, state, zip code, phone number, and email address. You’re probably wondering why I left out your street address. Two reasons: First, most of the initial job candidate correspondence today is conducted by email. Secondly, given the risk of identity theft, especially if your resume ends up on a number of job boards or sites, displaying your physical street address could increase your risk. If you end up getting deep into the hiring process with a company, then you can provide your address.
As a rule of thumb, only list your work history for the last 10 – 15 years. Note the most important requirements of each position. Describe your experience in specific terms. Use a results-oriented format, using numbers to quantify. For example, instead of stating “responsible for inventory maintenance”, write “maintained inventory on an ongoing basis, resulting in a 99% fulfillment rate and a 30% reduction in customer complaints.” And of course, make sure that any numbers are absolutely valid, as they may come up during reference checks.
While you can’t drastically change your experience, you can customize your resume according to the position you’re applying for. Highlight the skills & experience you have that match the job or create individual resumes for various job types for which you’re qualified. For example, I’ve been in technology for a long time with a vast amount of experience; however using the same experience, I have separate resumes for Project Manager, IT Auditor, Business Analyst, and Documentation Manager positions. The core skills are pretty much the same; I just highlighted the ones that are applicable to the various positions! Keep them electronically and update as necessary, so that they’re always at the ready.
One more thing about customizing your resume. Look at the job description for the position, note the various keywords contained in it, and include as many as you reasonably can – remember that keyword search thing?
Hiring managers, regardless of the job opening, are looking for candidates who care about quality and professionalism. And nothing says poor quality and non-professionalism than a resume filled with typos, bad grammar, and misspellings. As one of my roles is being a writing manager, I’m particularly tough with poorly written resumes. Remember that your resume is typically your first impression. And trying to impress a writing manager with a bad resume results in a quick balling up and shot into the circular file! Make sure to proofread, or better yet, have someone else proofread, as a new set of eyes can often spot things that we may miss.
I hope that I’ve provided you with a good framework for building a good, relevant resume. But regardless of how well you handle your finances, unplanned events do pop up. Don’t let these temporary situations stop you from achieving your financial goals; apply for an easy, inexpensive installment loan and get back on the road to financial stability!