By David M. Bourne
As some of our students approach graduation this summer/ autumn, it is time to think about applying for jobs. This article provides some practical advice on preparing your resume.
What is a resume and why is it so important?
A resume is a one- to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background. The heading of the resume should contain your name, address and contact information.
The body of the resume should be broken into the following sections: career objective, profile/summary, professional experience, achievements, scholastics, and references. Your career objective should be brief, up to two sentences; it should give your potential employers an idea of how you wish to move forward in your professional life. A concise profile or a summary should discuss who you are and how your skills and experience best apply to the job you are interested in.
The summary, as well as other parts of your resume, should not contain personal information that discloses ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, living situations, or any other personal information that is not directly related to your career. Personal profile/summary should only contain a few well-written sentences that convey what you can bring to the table in terms of the specific job. Use this section to attract the employerís attention, but donít go overboard in trying to be creative ñ stay professional. Your experience listing should include information on one to five jobs youíve held, starting with your current or last job, and listing previous positions in chronological order.
The listing should include the date range of your employment, name of the companies or person(s) you have worked for, and the city and state where the place of employment is located (full address of employment is not necessary). List your title and your main responsibilities, with emphasis on duties that are applicable to the type of work you are seeking.
Your education should include college, graduate and post-graduate work, as well as any courses or professional certifications that are relevant to your career development. Achievements, volunteer positions, publications and interests should only be listed if they apply to your professional work experience References should be listed if requested; best practices suggest not to list generic statements about references being available upon request as this is already understood.
In the competitive, internet-driven world of job searches, your resume represents you to potential employers. It serves as your tool to attract attention, get the interview and/or get a job. A great resume will make you stand out from other candidates by showcasing your aptitudes.
Think of your resume as your sales pitch ñ you need to sell yourself in the best possible way. Invest some time and research into developing your resume. You will want to make sure that your resume is error free ñ double check your grammar and spelling, make sure that all company and school names and cities are spelled properly. A resume containing errors, no matter how minimal, will give your potential employer an impression that you do not have attention to detail, that you donít take time to double check your work, and that you are a poor communicator.
Finally, make sure that your resume is formatted well. Stick to basic fonts, like Arial and Times New Roman. Keep the font size and color standard; donít use large fonts or multi-colors in your resume. Donít go overboard with bold, italicized, or large-cap text. Keep your format consistent and make sure that the resume looks great when viewed online as well as when printed out. Keep your resume to one or two pages ñ any additional pages give an impression that you either donít know how to concisely summarize your education and experience, or that you are listing unnecessary information for the sake of taking up space. If youíve never written a resume before, reference books, Internet resources or seek assistance from a professional resume writing service. A well-written resume can make a difference between being stuck at your current job and getting an interview to land the job of your dreams.
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