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The Basics of a Good Resume

You only get one chance to make a good first impression.  When seeking a new employer, your resume is the first glimpse of who you are.  It is worthwhile to review the latest trends if you have not touched your resume in a while.  Mike Pramik of the Columbus Dispatch has published a good summary of the latest ideas from experts in resume writing.

Revamp resume to land best jobs

First impression on paper key to successful search

By Mike Pramik


Its format is ever-changing, but the mission of the resume never goes out of style.

Whether presented in person, mailed or uploaded to a Web site, the resume is still the primary tool used by job-seekers to tell prospective employers who they are and what they’ve done.

“A professionally done resume is critical to your job search,” said Tina Rieder, managing partner of Atrium Personnel & Consulting Services in Westerville. “It provides a summary of your pertinent skills, accomplishments and experience.

“It’s your first impression.”

The differences between good and bad resumes can determine the success of your search, experts say.

Here are a few tips from professional resume writers, employers and staffing agents that will help you craft a resume to land that next job:

Start with the basics

Every resume should have a simple header at the top of the first page that includes your name, address, phone number and e-mail address.

List qualifications

A statement of a job-seeker’s objectives used to be in vogue on resumes: “To secure a high-paying position in the (fill in the blank) field with room for advancement.”

Objectives are out now, and qualifications are in.

“No one cares what you want,” said Janice Worthington, owner of Worthington Career Services. “They’re buying you for what you can do for them.”

She recommends including a headline just below the header that describes your work title, then a few subheads that further illustrate what you can do for an employer. For example, the headline could read “Senior Account Manager,” under which subheads could read “Pharmaceuticals,” “Medical Products” and “Hospitals.”

Samantha Nolan, a resume writer and interview coach who owns Ladybug Design, recommends writing a two- or three-paragraph qualification summary that a recruiter can quickly scan to determine your best assets.

“It’s something that can be read in seven to 10 seconds,” she said. “That’s the screening process now.”

List your competencies

Use lists or paragraphs to note your areas of expertise, making sure to use keywords used by the company in its ad or job description, if possible. Many resumes are scanned by computer for matches based on the company’s needs.

Worthington recommends including these competencies just below the subheads. Phrases such as “time management,” “market analysis” and “strategic business planning” can act much like meta tags that help to categorize Web sites and make them easier to find. Including keywords on your resume helps get it in front of recruiters who are searching corporate job banks or job-related Web sites.

Nolan said a simple title of “additional competencies” below the qualification summary can accomplish the same result.

Moore said it’s helpful to be connected through networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Lexis/Nexis so you can more widely distribute your resume. But be careful. Your Facebook and MySpace pages can come back to bite you if you’ve said unflattering things about people you know professionally or have created some “out there” profiles of yourself.

Tell your story

The rest of your resume should reflect your work history. You might detail accomplishments and then provide a work history. This information can be presented chronologically, in order of importance or perhaps by job title.

Awards, key achievements and success with budgets can be part of this section. Brian Moore, vice president of global staffing for Cardinal Health, encourages applicants to be specific about accomplishments, making sure to note the size and scale of the companies they’ve worked for. Overseeing a $1 million budget could be more impressive if you worked for a small company rather than a Fortune 100 company, for example.

Most important, experts say, talk about what you accomplished rather than what was required of you.

“What have you done to save the day?” Worthington said. “If I look at a resume and it’s nothing more than a bunch of history with job descriptions, I’m not going to wade through all that stuff, and employers aren’t, either.”

List value-added items

Place your education at the end, unless you’re fresh out of school, experts say. Worthington said if you’d like to emphasize your education, include the degrees you’ve earned, not necessarily where, in your core-competencies section.

Also, you might list professional memberships, volunteer work or military experience here if they relate to your job search.

Consider more than one

Many people are having to look beyond their current industry for a job, so a one-size-fits-all resume might not be enough.

For example, if your last job was as a financial analyst, but you’d be equally happy in auditing or accounting, which you did earlier in your career, draw up multiple resumes emphasizing those competencies.

Go long, but not too long

The adage of containing your resume to one page is out the window, unless you’re fresh out of school and don’t have much experience.

Most are two to three pages, professional resume writers say, although it doesn’t always hurt to go longer for more-senior positions.

But remember, time is of the essence for hiring managers. Linda Pantaleano, director of employment for Mount Carmel Health System, said her company received 90,000 applications for the 1,600 positions it filled in 2008.

“If somebody has three years’ experience and a three-page resume, that’s a big red flag,” she said. “You want to represent your accomplishments, but you want to do it in a concise way.”

Don’t get fancy.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to create dramatic documents that include photos, fancy fonts and logos, or to pack samples on CDs or other media.

But you should instead save them for your portfolio or create a Web site and include the address on your resume, experts say.


March 15, 2009 - Posted by | Careers, Job Search, Resume Writing


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