Your resume is your first impression with a potential employer. It is a short account (1–2 pages) of your experience, qualifications, and achievements. The goal of your resume is to capture the reader’s interest so that he/she wants to speak with you.
Most resumes get a 5–15-second scan by the reader. Your resume must have enough impact to grab the attention of the prospective employer. There can be no generic approach to a resume – always try to tailor every resume to fit the qualifications of a specific job as much as possible. The employer wants to know:
- What can you do for me?
- How can you improve my operations?
- Can you make me money?
- Save me time?
- Keep my customers happy?
Your resume must not only show the skills you have. It must demonstrate your successes and be an accurate reflection of you and your work.
TWO TYPES OF RESUMES – CHRONOLOGICAL AND FUNCTIONAL
A chronological resume lists the relevant jobs in reverse order, with the most recent first. This format is the most popular, the easiest to prepare and is generally successful.
A functional resume lists work experiences in terms of one or more specific “functions,” such as “finances, administrative or support services.” It lists the important contributions made in each function. Work experience listed at the bottom. The functional resume takes emphasis off dates and positions. It hides downward progression and emphasizes transferable skills. It is easy to change your objective to reflect something different from your experience.
MAKE IT AN EASY READ: FORMATTING YOUR RESUME
Use a consistent format to make it easy for readers to quickly skim through your resume and eliminate confusion.
Font: Choose a font style and size that is clean and conservative and stay between 10 and 12 points in size. Choose one font style and use it throughout. Your name can be two points larger.
Good font examples include: Times New Roman and Verdana
Font style: Bold, italics, underlining and capitalization can highlight certain information you want to emphasize. Don’t overuse these enhancements; otherwise, nothing really stands out.
Dates: Use a consistent pattern for all dates. Use years for all jobs if you do not know the exact months for all jobs (i.e., 2001–2002).
Paper color: Be conservative, use white or off-white.
Spacing: A 1″–1.25″ margin all around is generally acceptable; leave plenty of white space.
Number of pages: A resume is usually 1–2 pages.
Your resume may have more than two pages if you are submitting a curriculum vitae rather than a resume, OR you have an extensive list of:
- Technical qualifications
- Credentials and certifications
- Honors, awards, commendations
- Special projects, etc.
Regardless of the type of resume you choose, write it to catch the interest of the person reading it. Remember, most resumes get a 5–15-second scan the first time. From this, a decision is made to look further or not.
This makes the first half of your resume extremely important. Use this space to give a well-written summary of your strengths and skills. Format the rest of the resume to highlight your skills using accomplishment statements.
WRITE WITH GOALS IN SIGHT You should arrange your resume based on your goal. Are you looking for work in a field where you have experience, or are you changing careers? Have you recently completed school, or are the job requirements education-focused? Consider what the employer is looking for when you choose what to include on your resume and the order in which you present it.
SUMMARIZE TO SET YOURSELF APART Hiring managers and recruiters are busy people. One job posting or want ad can generate thousands of responses and stacks of resumes. You want to create a resume that separates you from the stack. Begin with a summary or objective that captures attention. Consider using a bulleted list of your abilities or accomplishments – it’s easier to see and scan on the resume. A well-developed summary is useful in a networking situation or in an interview.
KEEP IT UPDATED Be certain to print the most updated contact information on your resume. If you decide to have an email address or phone number listed on your resume be sure to keep it up to date and accurate.
DECIDE WHAT’S OPTIONAL Listing a physical address may not always be necessary. An employer probably doesn’t need to know your address and the city in which you live unless relocation for the job is an issue. Omitting your address can allow for more room on the resume – and this sometimes makes the difference when attempting to limit the resume to a single page.