These resume writing related tips — choosing the best resume style, tips for highlighting career accomplishments, and more — have been gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.
For an overall refresher on all-things resumes, see our Resume Tutorial.
Video resumes offer another tool to get your foot in the door with a growing number of employers today, explains Joe Turner in his article for Quint Careers, Are Video Resumes for You? But are they an advantage for you, the job-seeker? A video resume is a short video of the job-seeker essentially selling himself or herself to potential employers. Contrary to its name, a video resume is not your resume on video. It’s actually a short promo enticing the employer to take a look at your “real” resume online.
If you’re planning to publish your resume on your own Web page, be sure it is keyword-rich, since employers may use search “bots” and search engines to scour the Internet for candidates that meet their criteria. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
You probably have about 30 seconds to convince a potential employer that you deserve an interview. A resume summarizes your accomplishments, your education, and your work experience, and should reflect your strengths. Not sure what kind of resume you need? Check out our Resume Resources for more details.
A few years ago, Pamela Henderson, Joan Liese, and Joseph Cote of Washington State University conducted research into how consumers react to various typefaces or fonts. Their purpose was to explore how marketers and advertisers can use fonts to convey specific messages and emotions in logos and advertising copy. Given that resumes are essentially marketing documents, to what extent does the research also apply to fonts you might use in your resume? Learn more in our article, Research on Fonts and Marketing: Apply It to Your Resume?
The rule of thumb for older workers is to list about 15 years worth of jobs on a resume. Simply omit your older jobs from your resume unless you feel you have a compelling reason to leave them on. Learn more in our article, Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Strategies for Older Workers.
Career experts suggest that job-seekers who are conducting a thorough job search consider creating and publishing a Web resume. (Read Maximize Your Internet Job Search.) Besides the advantage of having your resume available 24/7, developing a Web-based resume also gives you the opportunity to build an online career portfolio to showcase your best work (which you can then link to your online resume). Learn more about creating and publishing your resume on the Web — and then promoting it via key search engines and directories in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
Keep running lists of keywords so that anytime you come across a word that’s not on your resume but that employers might use as a search parameter, you’ll be ready. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
Typically, the video resume consists of a short sales pitch delivered on-camera answering the question “why should you hire me?,” explains Joe Turner in his article for Quint Careers, Are Video Resumes for You? Using a Web cam, camcorder, or digital camera, most job-seekers film their own video. They then upload it to sites on the Web where potential employers might view them. You’ll still need your conventional paper resume though, since video resumes are used primarily to attract attention, helping job-seekers stand out among the rising competition on the Web.
It is essential that a potential employer can reach you. Your first resume section should include your name, address, phone number(s), and e-mail address. If a college student, this section might also include a school address and a permanent home address. Learn more in Fundamentals of a Good Chronological Resume.
Some job boards offer a feature that enables you to see how many times the resume you’ve posted has been searched. If your resume hasn’t been searched very many times, odds are that you lack the right keywords for the kinds of jobs you want. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
To publish your resume on the Web, you’ll need to find some Web space (if you don’t already) and then develop your Web resume. Go to this page of our Internet job-hunting tutorial to get more information: Create and publish your own Web page containing your resume. Learn more about creating and publishing your resume on the Web — and then promoting it via key search engines and directories in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
It remains to be seen whether the new format, the video resume, will take off with actual employers and recruiters, or fall flat on its face, writes Joe Turner in his article for Quint Careers, Are Video Resumes for You?. Some informal studies claim that considerably more than 80 percent of respondents replied that they would definitely look at a video resume if given the opportunity. And why not? Given a low risk on the part of the employer, it’s easy to see how this unique format can add a new perspective to an old face — the paper resume.
When considering keywords for your resume, don’t forget about “soft skills,” such as interpersonal and communications skills that relate to many types of jobs. These soft skills tend to be the ones that are transferable and applicable across various jobs/careers, as well as desirable personality traits. Assureconsulting.com has a nice list of nouns and adjectives on its Web site that represent a sort of “second tier” of keywords, the first tier being the hard skills that relate very specifically to the job you seek. Keep in mind, however, that many employers are skeptical about soft skills on a resume because they don’t believe the skills can be substantiated without meeting the candidate. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
Some resume experts are suggesting adding a section that highlights your key accomplishments and achievements. Think of this section as an executive summary of your resume; identify key accomplishments that will grab the attention of an employer. This section should summarize (using nouns as keywords and descriptors) your major accomplishments and qualifications. This section can also be labeled “Professional Profile,” “Summary of Accomplishments,” “Key Skills,” “Summary of Qualifications,” or “Qualifications.” Learn more in Fundamentals of a Good Chronological Resume.
As a mature worker, if you’re not willing to leave dates off your resume altogether (some employers will think you have something to hide if you omit them), consider a chrono-functional resume, which is organized around functional skills clusters. After listing 3-4 skills clusters and showing how you’ve demonstrated those skills, you include a bare-bones work history at the bottom. Listing your work history after your skills clusters has the effect of emphasizing relevant skills and de-emphasizing dates. Read more about functional formats — and see samples. And learn more in our article, Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Strategies for Older Workers.
Have someone else review your resume, advises Ann Hackett in an article for Quint Careers, Writing a Winning Resume. Since you are so close to your situation, it can be difficult for you to hit all your high points and clearly convey all your acco plishments. Have someone review your job search objective, your resume, and listings of positions that interest you. Encourage them to ask questions. Their questions can help you to discover items you inadvertently left off your resume. Revise your resume to include these items. Their questions can also point to items on your resume that are confusing to the reader. Clarify your resume based on this input.
- The “title” command…where you have up to 60 characters to provide a title to your document. Consider using your name and resume in the title. In my case, “Randall S. Hansen’s Resume.”
- The “description” command…where you have up to 150 characters to provide a description of your document. Make sure you use words that highlight your experience and skills.
- The “keywords” command…where you have limited space to enter critical keywords. Be sure to use keywords that you think employers and recruiters might use in searching for the position you are seeking — and make sure those keywords are also listed at least once (perhaps in a “key accomplishments” section) in your resume.
Learn more about creating and publishing your resume on the Web — and then promoting it via key search engines and directories in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
If you post your resume on Internet job boards, be sure to avoid emphasizing keywords that relate to jobs you don’t want. If you have jobs in your employment history that are unrelated to what you want to do next, go easy on loading the descriptions of those jobs with keywords. Otherwise, your resume will pop up in searches for your old career and not necessarily your new one. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
Construct your resume to read easily, suggests Ann Hackett in an article for Quint Careers, Writing a Winning Resume. Leave white space. Use a font size no smaller than 10 point. Limit the length of your resume to 1-2 pages. Remember, resumes are reviewed quickly. Help the reader to scan your resume efficiently and effectively.
For some time now, early-adopting job-seekers have been posting their videos directly to Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube and MySpace, notes Joe Turner in his article for Quint Careers, Are Video Resumes for You? Now, video resumes are hitting the mainstream as many of the major job and career sites (CareerBuilder, Vault ) are offering video resume hosting, and several new companies (WorkBlast) are dedicated solely to hosting both employers’ and job-seekers’ videos. In most cases, employers shoulder the costs, and the service is free to candidates.
You can create a Web resume… either from scratch by saving your Word document as an HTML file (see this section of Quintessential Careers for help in this area: Web Resources Page for Job-Seeker Web-based Resumes) or by borrowing one of the templates we have already created in our Sample Web Resumes section of Quintessential Careers. (You may also want to review some of the key resume-writing tools we have in our Resume Resources section.) Learn more about creating and publishing your resume on the Web — and then promoting it via key search engines and directories in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
To determine the keyword health of your current resume, highlight all the words in it that, based on your research of ideal positions in your field, would probably be considered keywords. Electronic resume guru Rebecca Smith says a good goal to shoot for is 25-35 keywords, so if you have fewer than that currently, try to beef up every section of your resume with keywords, varying the forms of the words you choose. You may be starting to get the idea that a good keyword resume must be specifically tailored the each job you’re applying to. You will especially get that idea if you read our article, Researching Keywords in Employment Ads. Indeed, a Feb. 2002 study by the former Career Masters Institute notes that resumes that aren’t focused on a job’s specific requirements aren’t competitive. Does that really mean you need to create a separate resume for every job you apply for? Yes and no. It’s probably not practical or realistic to totally revamp your resume for every opening. But you can tweak elements such as your objective statement and professional profile, thus adjusting some of your more important keywords for each job you apply to. Customizing your resume when completing online resume forms at job boards also makes sense. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
Leave negatives and irrelevant points off your resume, cautions Ann Hackett in an article for Quint Careers, Writing a Winning Resume. If you feel your date of graduation will subject you to age discrimination, leave the date off your resume. If you do some duties in your current job that don’t support your job search objective, leave them off your resume. Focus on the duties that do support your objective. Leave off irrelevant personal information like your height and weight.
For new college grads, the Education section of a resume should come before Experience. For others with full-time work experience, this section should follow your Experience section. This section should include school(s) attended (including years of attendance), majors/minors, degrees, and honors and awards received. For new grads only: There appears to be a growing trend of employers wanting your GPA in this section. If you decide to do so, make sure to use the GPA that puts you in the best light — either overall GPA, school or college GPA, or major GPA. Learn more in Fundamentals of a Good Chronological Resume.
Some experts suggest that mature workers consider softening the job titles you list on your resume so you won’t seem overqualified. For example, “senior manager” instead of “vice president.” Learn more in our article, Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Strategies for Older Workers.
Proofread your entire Web resume; then publish it and check it to make sure it is search engine ready. Try the free meta tag checker from Scrub the Web. Make any adjustments to your page, as necessary. Learn more about creating and publishing your resume on the Web — and then promoting it via key search engines and directories in our article, Resume Found: Keys to Successful Search Engine Registration.
If you know of specific terms that show your competence in a particular field, use them in your resume, suggests Ann Hackett in an article for Quint Careers, Writing a Winning Resume. For marketing people, use “competitive analysis.” For accounting types, use “reconciled accounts.”
Since you also don’t know the exact form of a keyword that the employer will use as a criterion when searching a resume database, it makes sense to also use synonyms, various forms of your keywords, and both the spelled-out and acronym versions of common terms. For example, use both “manager” and “management;” try both CRM and Customer Relationship Management. And remember that humans can make certain assumptions that computers can’t. A commonly cited example is the concept of “cold-calling.” People who read the phrase “cold-calling” in your resume will know you were in sales. But unless “cold-calling” is a specific keyword the employer is seeking in the database search, search software seeking “sales” experience may not find your resume. Learn more in our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
Find even more resume tips in Critical Resume Tips: Key Resume Writing Advice — #6.
Check out all of our Quick and Quintessential Strategic Resume Tips.
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