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Resume Help: Part II

Resume Preparation

[Part II]

Your resume is a career marketing tool, not an autobiography. A good resume is essential to marketing your talents and experience - it should make you stand out from the other candidates so a potential employer will want to interview you. Regardless of the resume format you decide to use, you should concentrate on making your resume as honest and positive as possible. The more specific you are about the position you desire, the better. 

While a resume is not always your sole chance at landing an interview or job offer, it is often the first impression an employer gets of you.    It's common for employers or recruiters to sort through hundreds, or even thousands, of resumes to fill one position. Hiring managers often just give resumes a cursory glance before deciding if the applicant deserves to be added to the "maybe" pile. While your resume will probably get a more thorough read if you are called for a job interview, ensure that your strongest selling points are immediately visible to make the first cut.

 Content Tips 

  • Avoid lying. Not only is it wrong, but remember that if you get caught, you won't get the job.

  • Clarify indeterminate gender. If you're Pat, Mel, Terry, Chris, Kelly, Leslie, Jamie, Lynn, or Lee, don't keep them guessing.  With certain names use Mr. or Ms. as a prefix.

  • Eliminate tiresome details. If you're well into your career, skip those college summer jobs. As you advance in age and up the corporate ladder, pare down your resume. Nobody really cares that you worked your way through college waiting tables, especially when you're applying for an executive position with a securities firm.

  • If you are applying for a specific job, include a personalized objective.  This clearly identifies your goals and intentions for the hiring authority.

  • If you are submitting your resume for general consideration with a company or a staffing/recruiting firm, leave the objective out.  If the exact position isn't available within the organization, you may automatically eliminate yourself from a job. If there are several positions that interest you, do not include your objective.

  • Avoid clichés and buzzwords. Don't use words that you think should sound "smart." Hiring authorities are not impressed with "utilize," "flexible," "team player," and "seeking an opportunity for me to grow and develop."

  • Be specific. Narrow down your accomplishments and experience to fit the position you desire.  Bring attention to yourself by not being vague or generalizing your abilities.

  • Present the facts.  Don’t overuse adjectives, include opinions, or present your resume as a sales pitch.

  • Always be positive even if your past job experience resulted in negative feelings toward your employer.

  • Don't put negative information in your resume but be ready to deal with it if it comes up in your interview.

  • Proofread your master copy very carefully. Have a professional proofread it.  A sloppy resume says you're careless.

  • Information not to include: Resumes should not contain personal information such as your height, weight, ethnicity, religion, political party affiliation, marital status, age, or health status. Not only could this make you subject to discrimination, but also (with only rare exceptions) it is illegal for an employer to solicit this information from you.

  • Be willing to let go of past experiences that don't market you for your current goal. Every word in the resume should sell your credentials and value to a potential employer. You should also leave something to talk about in the interview. 

Style and Format Tips 

  • Keep the design simple.  An outline-style is preferred by most HR and staffing professionals.

  • Avoid patterning your resume after the same examples everyone else uses. Hiring authorities get bored with look-alike resumes. Be creative and different – but only to a point.

  • Keep all headings uniform.

  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, or jargon.

  • Use action verbs.

  • Avoid using the pronoun "I".

  • Keep it concise. Short paragraphs are best.

  • Bullets are acceptable.

  • Use single space.

  • Make it neat and readable.

  • Ensure both grammar and spelling are flawless.

  • Make sure there are no smudges or marks present.

  • Keep consistent margins. Keep left and right margins as close as possible to one (1) inch.  Top and bottom margins should measure at least .5 (one half) inch, although a one (1) inch margin here is better as well.

  • Be sure chronological listings are correct.  The most recent should be at the top.

  • Avoid handwriting, cursive or script fonts, or any fonts described as cute, pretty, or cool.  You want the information to stand out, not the design.  Use basic fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman.

  • Print should be in black ink only.

  • Use high quality bond paper that is white or off-white.  Any other color other is unacceptable.  Colored paper does not copy well – your resume may be distributed to multiple people. Make sure envelopes and cover letters match the look and feel of your resume.

  • Anything over two pages is too long.  Keep the length down of your resume to one page if possible.  Avoid using smaller type or a different font to make it fit.

Back to Part I

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