Sunday, March 20, 2011

101 Resume Tips


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A resume is a picture of your professional work experience, skills and education. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. Once you get the interview, you must sell yourself in person - so you can see how important it is to have a good resume, it goes before you to introduce you. Your introduction should be flexible enough to make an impression on the hiring manager or create positive feedback from computer programs that human resource departments use to screen candidates for interviews. If you’d like to see how these tips are incorporated in a resume, download The Federal Resume Sample Book today. Although geared towards government jobs, it applies to civilian jobs as well.

1. Don't just have one resume. Depending on the job you are applying for, you will need to change your resume to demonstrate different skills.

2. Be accurate… no fudging. Don't embellish or lie on your resume. A good recruiter or employer will find out if it is not true. One of the most common resume lies involves playing with dates to hide employment gaps. Bogus college degree claims are also a mistake.

3. Be concise. Keep your resume to three or four pages. The employer will spend 10-15 seconds to preview. But don't keep your resume to one page when you really need two. Don't sacrifice content and impact in order to keep it to one page. One-page resumes are an old idea that limits your ability to show all of your skills and expertise.

4. Edit carefully, proofread, spell check, read aloud, and spell check again.

5. Make sure your electronic resume is readable when printed. Use a larger font (PS 11 or 12) and make sure there's enough spacing so that it's not a big gray page.

6. E-mail your resume to at least half a dozen trusted friends to see whether it can be easily opened as an attachment, and whether the format will hold in different systems.

7. Target every resume to a specific company/agency and position, and be succinct in illustrating your skills. Your aim is to trigger a call -- you can tell the whole story in your interview.

8. Your resume is your advertising/promotional brochure.

9. Invite the reader with a clear, clean layout. Have a consistent format throughout.

10. Don’t have a degree? Don’t be ashamed. Experience and willingness to learn can often trump education requirements.

11. Start phrases with action verbs. Don't be afraid to make your resume dazzle with powerful action verbs like orchestrated, spearheaded and pioneered.

12. Use the vocabulary of the industry. Using the proper keywords while writing your resume lets your prospective employer know that you understand your industry and that you paid attention to his/her job announcement.

13. Include only the most relevant information.

14. Don’t include potentially controversial or negative information - “Reason for leaving last job: they insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn’t work under those conditions.” The resume is not the place to raise this information.

15. Focus on what you can do for the employer.

16. No personal information please. Employers are not interested so much in the applicants themselves as in how they will perform in the job. Do not include information on religion, age or politics.

17. Unless asked on the job vacancy announcement, don’t include salary expectations.

18. Quantify when possible - "supervised staff of five."

19. Don't use personal pronouns such as I, my and we. Short, to-the-point sentences beginning with an action verb. So many resumes say, "I was the most productive supervisor on the assembly line" or "My work led the company to achieve the XYZ Award." When a person reads a resume, it is assumed that the resume is about you and your accomplishments.

20. Spell out all acronyms first and then use the acronym in the rest of the document - Department of Energy (DOE). Do not abbreviate words – clsrm (Classroom), sys (system).

21. Use a professional e-mail address. doesn't make a good impression.

22. Don't use a resume template from a software program. It won't separate you from other applicants. Besides, don't you know that you're special? If you have anything unusual in your background, including a gap in work history or a career change, the templates will not be the best choice for you.

23. Have a focus. A resume can't take you where you want to go if you have no goal in mind.

24. Create your brand. Let a prospective employer know why you are the right person for the job. What makes you stand out from the crowd of other candidates?

25. The first one-third of your resume must "grab" the reader. What value will you bring to the perspective employer? Start each resume with a branding headline and statement. One example: "Hospitality / Food Service Manager: Deliver continuous improvement in service standards, quality and profitability."

26. Choose the right format. Most employers like the reverse chronological, but there are times that style won't be the best way to showcase your skills and accomplishments. Resumes for Federal jobs have their own required format. Pay attention and comply.

27. Don't use passive voice.

No: "The project was completed on time and within budget."

Yes: "Led team to complete project on time and within budget."

28. Emphasize accomplishments, not duties. Show your future employer what you accomplished in your previous jobs.

Not recommended: Generated reports to assist in W2 processing.
Recommended: Worked directly with Payroll Manager to ensure proper W2 processing for over 1000 employees.

29. Don't include irrelevant information. Busy resume readers just don't have time to read about things that have nothing to do with your work. Will it matter that your hobby is roller coaster riding?

30. Define your goal. What is your targeted field or job? If you don't have one, get one. Not having a target will keep you from accessing the unadvertised jobs -- estimated to be 80 percent or more of the openings.

31. Use a headline. If your career path is in marketing, say so. Perhaps you have some account management experience as well. Try putting this in bold, italic, maybe 14 point type just under your name and address. The headline's job is to direct attention to your key message immediately.

32. Keep professional summaries at top of resume short. Starting your resume with a lengthy paragraph is a bad idea. One or two sentences to support the headline are all that's needed.

33. Rename the Work section by creating a “Skills” section. Instead of Work History or Professional Experience, which indicate a complete listing is about to follow, go with a selected heading, such as Marketing / Account Management Experience. Now include the work experiences in your field, starting with the most recent.

Not recommended: Computer Skills, Accounting/Payroll, and Administrative
Recommended: Accounting Software, Supervision of Accounting and Payroll Processing

34. Use an Other Work/Experience section to capture the unrelated jobs. Your current survival position goes here, as do other gap-filling positions that are not in your primary field. Use only one line per job, to keep the focus away from this section while still providing an answer to the key question: What have you been doing?

35. End with Professional Affiliations or with a short selection of quotes from your letters of reference. The idea is to go out with something stronger than your current job at the coffee shop.

36. Make education current. If your degree is from 1970 or unrelated to your work, or when there is no degree, you need to add something current and relevant in your training section -- start with at least an online webinar.

37. Ensure that the level of your experience matches your desired salary. Do not state that you would like an entry-level position if you are experienced in the field you are applying for.

38. Prioritize the content in your resume. Important information should be listed first. Instead of simply stating what you can do efficiently - example, type 70 wpm - also include how this skill benefited your previous employer. In doing so, your prospective employer will see exactly what you can do for them.

39. Organize all your data. Write down employment history starting with the most recent -- position, company, dates worked, and city and state. Jot down under each employment your duties, beginning with your highest responsibilities. Next highest responsibility and continue. Job descriptions should not be too long.

40. Block-type formats look more professional. Use a good font such as Arial. Use italics sparingly to emphasize accomplishments. Be careful with borders, stay away from heavy borders. Page borders are fine if they are thin.

41. Replace the objective with a heading called Summary of Qualifications. You can use this resume for any job you are applying for that demands your skills. Under this heading describe your work experience and highest skills.

42. Use good materials to produce resume. If you’re mailing your resume, use good resume paper that has a watermark. Use a good printer with ample toner.

43. Take a hardcopy of your resume to the interview even if you e-mailed it.

44. Make sure you are up to date on your industry's technology.

46. Delete information about outdated technology.

47. Search job descriptions in your field for recurring terms and use the language in a resume. Federal job announcement positions are a great place to start. You can also look at job banks to get acquainted with job descriptions and describe your accomplishments in those terms.

48. Tailor each cover letter to the company you are applying to. You want to show you have done research about the company and the job.

49. Use short paragraphs with no unnecessary words.

50. Include current and permanent address and phone number.

51. List technological accomplishments. Software programs are associated with certain positions or professions. If you are knowledgeable in SharePoint or other programs, list them.

52. Look at job banks to get acquainted with job descriptions and describe your accomplishments in those terms.

53. Make it interesting: resumes can be so dull to read, and for each job there is often a large pile of them for the employer to go through. Make yours stand out by making it interesting reading; make the employer want to read to the end.

54. Write to the employer’s objective. When writing your resume, keep in mind that employers are looking for just three things in every applicant for every position: the skills to do the job; the motivation to do it well; and the ability to fit well into their team.

55. Grab your reader at the onset. A 2010 survey in Sydney, Australia suggested that an employer spends on average of eight seconds to decide whether an application is worth further consideration. In the U.S. the average is 30 seconds for a person and 2 seconds for a computer!

56. The first page counts. In eight seconds someone can read almost halfway down the first page.
57. Convey your motivation. If you are not talking about your motivation for the job in the top half of page one, you may have missed the boat.

58. Formatting matters. Make the resume left-justified. Avoid using bold face and other eye-catching features that could garble the resume when it's sent. Computers have a hard time reading them. Italics are hard to read by the human eye.

59. Avoid listing references or saying they would be available upon request. Just have references ready to send electronically on a separate page. If you don't have references, consider volunteer work so you have someone to attest to your reliability and character.

60. Make sure the resume is posted on a safe site. You can’t just trust anybody with your personal information.

61. Your resume should be a living document. Most people put it on the shelf, and when they need it, it is not up-to-date. Keep a running list of your accomplishments and update frequently.

62. Keep a journal of what you do at work. Not sure what to include in your resume? How about keeping a journal for one week of everything you do each day. You will be surprised at how many things you do or are asked to do!

63. Create targeted objective for the job you want. You would be surprise at how many people don’t specify what position they want on their resume or cover letter. This is a HUGE mistake. You have to tell them what position you want, do IT with the objective statement, which is also good for entry-level jobs.

64. A resume with too many extracurricular activities raises a red flag. Habitat for Humanity, tutoring and mentoring, community fund-raising, Rotary, church outreach, animal rescue, nursing home work, poll worker, volunteer fire department, creating hiking trails, Adopt-a-Highway, and any other work that helps the world is great, but just list your most important extracurricular activities! The focus should be on your professional experience.

65. Be careful with religious affiliations in resume. Job seekers should to be prudent when listing organizations that are indicative of race or religious preference unless they held a leadership position.

66. Numbers, numbers, numbers! If you can demonstrate some success by using actual numbers, that helps management measure success rather than just saying, “Have customer-service experience.” It makes a huge difference to employers to quantify or qualify your experience.

67. Integrate well known names. If you have worked for any companies (or clients or vendors) with recognizable names, you should add those to your resume. People's eyes are naturally drawn to names they have heard of… say Coca-Cola?

68. Only mention exceptional grade point average. If you say my GPA was a 2.3, you’re telling a hiring manager that you were an average student. IF on the other hand you graduated with honors, you should put down the honors degree. In the government, if you have just graduated with 3.5 GPA you can qualify for a job automatically, under the Student Honors Program!

69. Do not include minor responsibilities that you do not wish to perform in your next job. If you had a less than stellar job experience you wish not to repeat it is OK to leave it off the resume. Imagine somewhere down the line you did telemarketing. They may say, “Oh she has experience with telemarketing, we can put her there,” and you may hate telemarketing. Remember, you don't have to say everything you have ever done in your life.

70. Include internships and summer jobs for students. If you just graduated and don’t have much experience include summer jobs and the degree earned or working toward. Highlight internships and jobs relevant to your degree. Entry-level resumes present your college experience not your work experience.

71. Try not to exaggerate. Ex. “Led four expeditions to Mt. Everest while finishing my advance degree from Harvard.” Understand where you are in life and don't make your job experience more than it is. Highlight your accomplishments, sports and other activities.

72. Search online resumes for examples of industry-specific resumes, you might just learn something!

73. Apply for a particular job, and make it clear in your resume. If your objective is anything other than attaining the position for which you are applying in the best possible way, you are not applying for the right position. Think it over or readjust your objective.

74. Avoid repetition. If you were good at word processing in three positions, mention word processing only once.
75. Include a cover letter. The resume talks in terms of what you have done; the cover letter says what you can bring to the next employment.

76. Where possible use dollars, percentages and numbers to describe specific achievements. If you increased sales at your office by 38 percent, include it, or if you saved your company a certain amount, include it.

77. Don't date yourself. Employers don't need to know right away that you graduated 20 years ago. Things like age discrimination still exist in the market place.

78. Look for jobs in places where you like to shop or hang out.

79. Network with friends and family, who can introduce you to possible employers.

80. Consider internships. Even if they're unpaid, they can provide valuable work experience.

81. Don't state individual goals or career objectives: Doing so might give a prospective employer the feeling that you are more interested in yourself than the company. (My goal is to be a top level manager within three years.)

82. In the absence of specific application instructions (ex: federal government), E-mail, snail mail and fax, - hit them with all three. You have to get your resume in the employer’s hands.

83. Use margins, short paragraphs and an easy-to-read font size - 10 to 12 points - to sell yourself. Use bold fonts and underline key phrases and achievements. The most important points need to jump off the page.

84. Put the time element at the end of sentences. Key information, like job titles, needs to hit the reader's eye first to capture the attention.

85. Buy our book! The Federal Resume Sample Book, written by resume experts who have looked at thousands of resumes. You can lift phrases, copy layouts and get writing tips.

86. Consider taking a personality test. The Myers-Briggs Personality Sorter will highlight your strengths and weaknesses. It can steer you to a new career that suits you.

87. Some companies block e-mail attachments. So create a text-only version of your resume for e-mailing, and put it it in the body of e-mail messages, when necessary.

88. Avoid special font formatting and special characters like bullets. Avoid indents and complex spacing. Some sites need a text-only resume to complete applications.

89. Use specialized job boards. Sites like Monster and CareerBuilder post millions of jobs, but they're not the best sites for experienced job seekers. Many of the positions are entry-level. You'll face lots of competition. Your resume could get lost in the shuffle.

90. Let your Facebook friends know you're job hunting. Twitter contacts can help.

91. Business-networking sites like LinkedIn, Ryze and Ecademy are important. So is your alumni association. Former schoolmates may be able to help. Make sure your LinkedIn profile matches the information on your resume.

92. Consider your online presence. Potential employers check social-networking sites. Clean up your profiles. Remove anything that casts you in a negative light. Remember, negative comments you've made will look bad to employers.

93. Explain employment gaps - If you have short employment gaps, you might try to address it in the cover letter. Include long gaps in employment in your resume by describing volunteer work you might have done or an obstacle you overcame. An example is showing that you cared for an ailing parent and overcame the difficulties.

94. Be sure to highlight key coursework. Include courses under your Education section that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

95. Don't guess at key dates in your career and make sure you use your exact job title. Doing so could create the impression that you have lied when your future employer does a background check.

96. Do community service while job hunting. Add it to your resume if it relates to your prospective job or you've had a long gap between jobs. The goal is to stay engaged and active, even if unemployed.

97. Emphasize your own social media presence and successes. Present your great communication and language skills, and don't forget social links to your blog, Twitter, and other sites you're active on. Have your resume online, on sites such as on LinkedIn.

98. If you have your own website profiling your work, include the URL, but do not simply submit the URL address instead of a resume.

99. The employment history should reflect the past 10 to 15 years, at most. Any essential credentials beyond this time should be summarized at the end of the employment history, without indicating specific dates.

100. Don't leave it to the last minute. Dedicate a full day to writing and editing your resume, finding your past job details, and gathering numbers to support your experience.

101. Include all jobs. If you have had menial jobs along your career path, do not hesitate to list these on your resume. This is an indication that you have "learned the hard way" and may have developed a sense of humility and solid character along the way.

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