Many people haven’t looked at their resume in years; they haven’t
needed to. But in 2009’s collapsed economy, jobs are shaking out like
coins from a piggy bank.
If you’ve been laid off or you’re
worried you might be, blow the dust off your old resume and bring it
back to life. Whether you are just updating or starting from scratch
(who knew those floppies would become obsolete?), these steps will help
you create an honest, positive resume.
resume and cover letter are tools to land a job interview. Not the job,
just the interview. Think of a resume as a fact sheet and a cover
letter as an explanation of those facts. Lose sight of this and you may
overwrite, over explain and convolute.
But a resume is also your
public relations advocate and should be flattering. Maybe your record
isn’t long or perfect, but don’t let your resume knock you out of
contention before you have a chance to talk your way into the job.
Look at sample resumes for your field. Check out: www.resumetemplates.org, or www.collegegrad.com/resumes.
Once you find a template or format that makes sense for your goals and experience, don’t feel you must follow its structure exactly.
objective is to get the job; you know it, the employer knows it. Unless
you really need to fill space, explain your objectives in your cover
letter. Cover letters allow you to tailor your goals to the job you are
applying for and creating a good cover letter is key.
you don’t have much experience, your credentials can look pretty lonely
on the page. No one expects a young person to have as much to say as a
person who has been working for twenty years. The results of thoughtful
spacing? An easy-to-read resume.
at the soup kitchen or the animal shelter. Get active in your
community. If you volunteer at something related to the field you want
to work in, everyone wins. Add this activity to your resume immediately.
of your achievements may not have happened within the confines of a
job. For example, if you worked on a major research project in school,
you can describe your project and the skills it developed. Here is a list of resume action words that may help jumpstart your memory.
your most recent job at the top and the rest in descending order. This
is the order employers/recruiters expect to see your experience; don’t
disappoint or confuse them. A rare exception to the rule: if you are
graduated from a prestigious college and you’re working at a filler
job. All you Harvard degree graduates who are scooping ice cream, list
your Harvard education first.
is going to contact you by snail mail anyway? Your email address and
cell phone number is all anyone needs to contact you. With your resume
floating around the internet, keep some information private.
Some HR folks don’t read resumes any more. They have software that scans resumes for relevant keywords.
Use nouns, like the names of the computer programs you know. Read tons
of job descriptions and notice which words are used over and over.
you made a suggestion that your boss used, if you saved your company
money, if you streamlined the work process, it counts. Don’t be shy
about highlighting accomplishments on your resume. Back them up with
statistics, if possible. How much money did you save the company? What
percentage of the budget was it?
Stick to one page, unless you have been working ten or fifteen years. If early jobs are not relevant, leave them off.
resume can always be improved so keep tweaking it. Add a better word, a
better phrase, a new accomplishment. Keep old versions of your resume
in case you need information that you previously deleted.
- Don’t Lie.
knew this would be on the list. Employers routinely check job histories
and education claims. Lies about either your job history or degree are
the easiest for employers to uncover. The newly named dean of
admissions at MIT lied on her resume
when applying for a clerical job twenty-eight years ago. With the
promotion in the works, her lies were discovered and she was fired.
- Omit the Ugly.
grade point average? Leave it off. Have a 4.0? Put it front and center.
Not all information is mandatory. Some people omit listing jobs they
only held a short time or that might give them a bad reference.
However, if the omission creates a gap that you are asked about in an
interview, remember tip number one: don’t lie.
- Mind the Gap
know someone who waitressed a couple of years after college. She omits
her graduation year from her resume so there is no obvious hole, but no
Having a solid resume ready to send someone is
important. Whether you need a job now or not, you never now when an
opportunity will present itself and you'll be asked to submit a resume.
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