Your resume is your ambassador
to the work world. It functions for you 24 hours a day, opening doors to
opportunities you didn't even know existed. But not all resumes are alike or are
used alike today with all the electronic means available to reach your potential
employer. Here are the most important issues to consider as you prepare your
resume to represent you in the marketplace:
- Write your resume in your own words. It may be challenging - especially if
writing ranks among your least favored activities - but if you write your
own resume and don't hand it off to someone else you'll be able to be sharp
in your interview. No embarrassment not knowing what the resume expert meant
when he wrote that smart phrase on your resume! If you do hire an expert to
help you, work closely with that person to be sure your resume realistically
reflects your abilities and your vocabulary.
- Put your best foot forward. People remember what they see first and last,
so place your least important information in the middle. Have an objective
or a key word summary or both in the beginning of your resume and end your
document with strong content - such as your educational background.
- Tell war stories. Make a list of all the work or volunteer experiences you
have had that support your candidacy for the job. Select the best ones and
write them so that they show what Problems you've solved, Actions you've
taken to do this, and the bottom line Results you've achieved. For example:
- Managed the design, equipment selection, installation, and start-up of
a four-aisle, man-aboard storage and order-picking system 35 feet high
and 120 feet long, handling 6,000 items. Project was completed on time
within the $400,000 budget.
- Use resume etiquette. The word resume does not belong any place on the
document. Never use "I" to start out a sentence. The language of
your resume should be specific, clear, succinct, positive, and exciting.
Make it easy for someone to contact you. Of course references are available.
Don't use valuable resume real estate to say this.
- Know what format to use. The two most commonly used and accepted resume
formats are the chronological and the functional. Often elements of both are
combined. A chronological resume is most widely used and preferred by
recruiters and interviewers. It is good for someone with a consistent work
history. A functional resume focuses attention on your accomplishments and
is often used more successfully if you are trying to change careers or
industries or to downplay gaps in your career.
- Tell the truth. If you lie about your education, job experience or any
other element of your work history, you will probably live to regret it.
True stories abound of professionals receiving awards, only to have their
careers ruined when research revealed that portions of their resumes were
fabricated. On the other hand, if a job title you had does not adequately
reflect the work you really did, clarify it. "Clerical Assistant"
does not tell the scope of responsibilities as well as "Meeting
- Know your audience. Your resume and every interaction in your job search
should answer the question to the employer - "Why should I hire
you?" Communicate the information necessary to evaluate your ability to
do the job. Use language that is appropriate to the industry or field, but
be aware that extreme jargon may not speak to those who are intermediaries
between you and the ultimate hiring manager.
- Get some objective feedback. Have others who have not worked as closely
with the resume as you have read it for accuracy and typographical errors
before you submit it. Ask questions about whether the resume communicates
what you intended. Does your resume support your claim of being qualified
for the job? Does it address the requirements of a specific job description
you're after? Does it need to be modified to fit the situation exactly?
- Know your parts of speech. Action verbs are the bedrock of good writing.
Use them liberally throughout your resume to communicate your
accomplishments: Developed, streamlined, pioneered, implemented, produced -
use your word processor's thesaurus to identify alternatives so that you
don't need to repeat yourself. Key words are nouns demonstrating essential
skills that are most effective for electronic formats, scanned by computers
who are the first line screeners: Operations manager, project planning, data
analysis. Use a KeyWord Summary at the top of your resume, choosing the top
20 or 30 words that represent your abilities.
- Hit the highlights. Remember that your resume is only one element of your
job search strategy. It's important and needs to get you in the door, yet
cover letters, email and fax communications and telephone interactions will
extend the conversation and add further evidence of your ability to do the
job. Be prepared to give more detail later. Think of your resume as your