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Your resume is a foot-in-the-door, your opportunity to introduce yourself and show why you deserve the job you're applying for. You should always put your greatest professional strengths on display for your potential employer to see. There are many important elements to writing a successful and effective resume and it's important to remember to be creative, yet still professional. The topics below represent a list of important items to consider when writing your resume!
A resume is an organized written presentation of relevant information and accomplishments specifically targeted toward your work/job search objective.
It is not a laundry list of jobs and duties. It is an overview and should not tell everything about you. The resume is only one piece of the job search process used in responding to an advertisement or as a direct mail piece. A resume will be skimmed in approximately 25 to 35 seconds. It should be clear, direct, effective, professional and easy to read. Use bullet points to facilitate skimming. Avoid long paragraphs and large blocks of text.
Length is 1 to 2 pages. Rule-of-thumb, under 10 years experience and/or lower level experience, 1 page; over 10 years experience or depth and breadth of experience, 2 pages.
Do Not Include:
Identifying information should be listed on the first page in a balanced, organized layout, including:
Name should stand out, i.e., bold, all capital letters or small caps. It is unnecessary for the rest of the heading to have the same treatment. Placement at the top of the page provides all the emphasis that is needed.
Objective statements are used to keep people focused on their search. It may or may not be included on your resume. Often a summary/lead-in replaces the objective on the resume.
The Summary/Lead-in Paragraph is a positioning statement that brings experience of the past into the present. It is a required section for a focused, targeted resume. It is a concise statement summarizing experience, areas of expertise, technical or professional skills, traits and any distinctions. The Summary should indicate: level of responsibility, illustrate potential contributions to the employer, highlight greatest strengths, and use business/professional language. It emphasizes key information detailed in the body of the resume.
You should also include languages, special degrees, team and communication skills. Hiring Managers and Decision-Makers do not have the time to read a resume top-to-bottom to determine your experience, qualifications and skills.
It can be organized in different ways.
The first sentence should start with the functional, generic job title indicating level of responsibility: Human Resources Manager, Senior Scientist, Laboratory Researcher, Mechanical Engineer, Executive Administrator, Office Manager, Director of Finance, IT Project Leader. It should also include functional area of experience and/or industry. The second sentence should emphasize and build on technical expertise, critical strengths, contributions, and developed functional skills stating accomplishments, specialized talents and/or job knowledge. Ending with management/leadership skills and work style combined with personal characteristics and qualifications.
The Professional Experience section is a summary of work experience and accomplishments that cover the past 10-12 years. Begin with current job first and work backwards. Work experience older than 10 years may be summarized at the end of this section in a single sentence. Describe experiences in a coherent and continuous manner.
Start by outlining the most effective and important information first: current Company/Employer's Name, Job Title, Job Function, and Dates (in years). For all companies, organizations and schools, city, and state must be included to establish credibility. List the current name of the company even if you started working with a company that was bought or merged with the current company, "Honeywell International (formerly Allied/Signal)". Use the official, formal name of the company. Many companies have names or initials that make it impossible to identify what kind of a company it is. You can include a short tag line to describe each company: industry position, dollar volume, customer base, products and/or recognition. For example: "An international manufacturer of professional and retail personal care products" or "A $50M wholesaler of paper and plastic products."
In most instances, company name should be listed first followed by job title specifically when you have had more than one position with the company. Company name should not be listed more than once.
Next write your most recent Job Title. You may need to include a translation or generic job title if a job title is specific to the company and difficult to understand what it is: "Product Specialist" may be listed as "Product Specialist/Purchasing Representative" because those terms are more readily understandable outside the company/industry. If you had more than one job title with the same company, list date next to the job title to qualify advancement or movement within an organization.
Job Scope Definition: Defines the dimension, range, level, staff size, budget, general responsibilities and reporting relationship as appropriate for that position.
Start with an action verb: managed, led, directed, conducted, supervised, consulted, or performed. Limit to 1 or 2 sentences directly under the job title to outline the scope and responsibility of the job (optional).
An accomplishment statement clearly demonstrates past ability to contribute to productivity and/or profitability of the company. It emphasizes past achievements and successes by using quantifiable and measurable information.
An accomplishment is a specific example of success doing a key element/duty of your job and covers the most important aspects of your job. The specific results of your actions should be immediately clear to the reader. Each accomplishment should answer the question "how did you do the work differently or better?" They highlight the value, benefits and contributions that you bring to the organization. Accomplishment statements substantiate the strengths included in your lead-in paragraph with results produced in similar situations.
Use bullets to facilitate easy reading. A general guideline is to write one or two accomplishments for every year in a job. Document each of your greatest strengths with at least one solid achievement/result.
The components of a well-written accomplishment include:
Volunteer experience should be included if it supports the overall job objective or it emphasizes key skills that mayor may not be highlighted under Professional Experience.
If the Volunteer Experience is more limited to membership without holding specific positions or titles it should be listed under Professional Associations/Community Activities.
Military experience is included when it is relevant to the job objective or was for an unusual length of time. Non-US military experience is usually omitted. List Military Experience in its own section, including branch, date and classification.
Including a separate Awards section is up to you. However, if an employer is not accustomed to giving employee awards and recognition, it can be misinterpreted. An alternative means of incorporating awards is to include the award or recognition in with the accomplishments. It could be listed as a stand-alone bullet. Usually behind every award is an accomplishment. When the specific achievement includes the award it increases the impact, power and effect of the overall accomplishment statement without being seen as self-important.
This section should itemize specific computer applications and may differentiate between proficient in and familiar with. In most instances, the computer skills section should be near the end of the resume, ahead of Education. If you specialize in computer or information technology and are selling your computer expertise as a qualification to the job, the computer skills section should be included in the beginning of the resume.
IT Professionals need to detail the specific areas of expertise including Hardware, Software, Programming Languages, Mainframe, Networks, Integrated Solutions and Client Server Tools, whatever is appropriate to the area of expertise.
Summarize educational background in a simple straightforward manner in reverse chronological order. Start with the highest degree, major (if relevant to job objective) and university/college name, city, state, year is optional. Degree abbreviations are fine (BS, BA, MS, AAS, and PhD). Give school names the same font treatment as company names. Include school even when less than a full degree was earned: percent completed, number of years, number of semesters, hours of course work, toward what degree.
Professional development, ongoing/special training, certificates, licenses, or educational achievements should be included, if appropriate to support the objective.
The non-academic achievements can be listed in a separate section entitled Professional Development or Training & Development.
Put education at the end unless there is a special reason to move it up front (i.e., recent college graduate with minimal work experience or applying for teaching position).
List relevant memberships, professional affiliations, boards, and community involvement that support the job objective and emphasize involvement, recognition, and value added. Particularly mention leadership positions, offices held, special achievements, awards received and language skills. Avoid religious and political activities. Include activities that present a professional Image.