Friday, 18 November 2011

Writing a Great Resume

Every great resume has seven core elements, all of which must be present for it to be complete and effective:
  • Contact information
  • Objective
  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Accomplishments
  • Education
  • Professional affiliations and awards
Contact information
Begin your resume by centering your name at the top of the first page. Use your complete name, but not any informal or nickname or such designations as Mr., Ms., or Mrs. In addition, do not give the document a title, such as "Resume" or "The Resume of ______."

Beneath your name, position your postal address, telephone number, and e-mail address, if you have one. This information is critically important because it enables employers and recruiters to contact you for additional details and, potentially, to schedule an interview.

If possible, provide a telephone number where you can be reached privately during the business day. Otherwise, use a private telephone number that will be answered by another adult, a voice mail service, or an answering machine. Then make sure that you check your messages regularly and return recruiters' calls promptly. Similarly, use a private e-mailbox - not one provided by your employer (which is subject to inspection) - to receive e-mail from recruiters. Check your incoming e-mail at least twice daily.

Your resume objective statement tells the employer what kind of position you're seeking and helps you organize your resume. Place this single sentence, which generally runs about 20-30 words, just below your contact information. (For guidelines on writing an effective statement of objective, see Chapter 3.)

A profile appears below your objective statement and summarizes your key skills, abilities, experience, and knowledge. It should be roughly the same length as an objective statement (20-30 words) and written in 3-5 bullets or short, descriptive phrases.

A profile functions as a billboard to highlight your strengths in the workplace, and by being positioned near the top of your resume, enables recruiters to assess your qualifications quickly and accurately. Your profile should be rich with keywords - the nouns and phrases recruiters use to describe qualifications similar to yours. Review the terms included in recruitment ads, job postings on the Internet, and position descriptions, if you have access to them. Then write your profile with recruiters' vocabulary, always ensuring that the information you include is accurate, clearly expressed, and persuasive. For example:

  • 15 years of experience as a successful sales agent in the personal insurance industry
  • Top performer in the Eastern Region for the past five years
  • Experienced at both new account sales and current account management and growth
The experience section provides a detailed description of your work credentials. Because both the space on your resume and the time recruiters have to review it are limited, include information that clearly and directly supports your good resume objective writing. Each detail should be designed to provide evidence of your skills and knowledge, your track record in applying these attributes on the job, and your potential to extend that capability into another organization and a new position. If you use a chronological or hybrid format, this section also details your previous employers, positions held, and locations. (See Chapter 1 for a description of chronological, functional, and hybrid resumes.)

In today's job market, employers are seeking very specific kinds of talent. They want to hire individuals who have demonstrated high levels of performance in their occupational fields and gained the kind of experience that prepares them to achieve similar success in the future. Therefore, your experience section should provide a focused, hard-hitting summary of what you can do, not who you hope to be. It is a place for fact, not dreams; achievable objectives, not wishful thinking.
In most cases, your accomplishments are best presented as bullets in the experience section. These success stories provide two kinds of information to employers. First, they are the details that prove how capable you are in your occupational field. Because quantitative measures are often easiest to understand and have the greatest impact on the reader, describing your on-the-job achievements in numbers, rather than phrases, may attract the most employer attention. Here's an example:
  • Increased sales by 30% in just two years
  • Accomplished special project on time and within budget, producing a $150,000 profit for the company
  • Managed a weather-related spike of 5,000 claims within 60 days by hiring and training five new employees
Your accomplishments also provide employers with information about your character. These glimpses into proven performance are a statement about the pride you take in your work. They describe your sense of commitment to making genuine contributions on the job. And they are a measure of the importance you attach to being the best you can be in your profession, craft, or trade.

Your resume also presents your most important education and training credentials. Once again, what you say in your objective should determine what to include in this section. Cite past degree-track programs you pursued and any classes and programs in which you are currently involved. In fact, employers now look very favorably on candidates who recognize the importance of and take responsibility for keeping their skills current. Therefore, think of yourself as a work-inprogress; always be enrolled in a program that extends your skills and knowledge in the workplace and always include that information on your resume.
To describe your educational credentials, think about providing the following information:
  • The name of the degree(s) or certificate(s) you have earned or are in the process of earning
  • The specific field in which you majored or the subject you are currently studying
  • The institution where you did your coursework or are now doing it
  • The date your degree(s)/certificate(s) were awarded or the term "ongoing" if you have not yet completed the program For example:
    BS/Software Engineering Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA 1971
    JAVA Programming University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT Ongoing
Professional affiliations and awards
In the professional affiliations and awards section, cite the names of any professional societies or associations to which you belong, as well as any positions you have held, presentations you have delivered at annual or chapter meetings, and articles you have authored for publication. Don't include the citation you received for helping out at the local community center, but do highlight any activities or achievements that underscore your dedication to your field and demonstrate your improved competency. For example:
  • Member American Marketing Association - 1975 - Present
  • Mid-Ohio Chapter President American Marketing Association - 1991-93
  • "Building Powerful Brands" paper presented at American Marketing Association 9th Annual Convention - 1998  

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