Read five career counseling books, talk to five career counselors, search five career web sites and try and determine the best way to write your resume…chances are you will find that no two sources will provide you with the same format or prescription for content. Writing a resume is still an art form and not a science. Your resume needs to reflect who you are as much as what you have done. It is your marketing primary tool.
When I help people develop their resumes I tell them it is important to write from the readers perspective. Most of us write from the writer’s perspective. When it comes down to it, the contents of your resume needs to address what you can do for the reader…not what they can do for you. Keep things simple; remember the first person who reads your resume and does the initial screening will probably be an assistant to the recruiter, a junior HR person or an administrative assistant.
In every instance, be one hundred percent honest about everything you write. Many job hunters get into trouble when fudging on experience, inflating titles, graduating from schools that can’t confirm their attendance and otherwise misleading the reader. Remember, if a company wants to terminate you for any reason and you have falsified information on your resume or employment application, a savvy employer will terminate you for falsifying a legal document and never lose at the employment termination hearing. Besides, being honest eliminates the necessity to cover up later.
No two resumes that you send out should be the same! It takes more work but tailor every resume to the individual requirement of the job, company culture, industry lingo and specific needs that they are trying to address. Every word that appears on your resume should be relevant to addressing the position requirements, as you know them. Do your homework on the company, position and hiring manager before you develop the final resume draft. Fit with the company is as important as technical competency.
Every resume should have a Career Objective statement right after your letterhead. Tell the company what you want to do for them, at what level and why you are the person for the position. Include at least ten key words in this statement so that if your resume is scanned and then pulled up using a key word search you have a better chance of having your resume pop up and read.
Next list eight to ten Significant Accomplishments that you have achieved in your work past that is relevant to the new company’s needs. Quantify the results of your achievements as every manager manages by numbers. This section tells the reader that you are results orients and not “just another pretty face”.
Now, develop your Career History section in reverse chronological order (most recent position first). Give the company name and location, dates of employment in years, your title(s) and your job responsibility. Elaborate on the details of the positions that you have held in the past that most directly to the position for which you are applying.
The next section is Education and Training. State your highest degree earned first, name of the school and location. If you graduated with honors, state them. Only if you did not graduate from college should you include high school. Never give high school graduation date, which is an illegal question as it closely relates to your age. Next, list relevant training and certificates, licenses etc. The final section is Other Relevant Information which includes info like software / hardware proficiencies, language fluency, tool or equipment operation etc.
Attach a professional cover letter that is developed in very specific terms for each position and you are on your way. When at all possible send your cover letter and resume to both human resources and the hiring manager addressing them by name. Never send salary information or reference lists with your resume, wait until they are requested for the company after your interview.
Remember what you write and how it looks is a direct reflection of who you are. A professionally prepared resume may make the difference between getting an interview or getting disqualified!