If you are trying to move up in the corporate world, your resume is one of the most critical things you will ever write. The concept behind them isn’t really complicated, just write down all of your accomplishments and history on a simple, professionally formatted piece of paper. However, many people completely botch it, and don’t get a job because of it. Hopefully the below tips will help you write yourself one killer resume, and then get a job because of it.
Many people are confused about what they should include on a resume, and what format that resume should take. The confusion comes from the fact that there are really no single right answers when it comes to resume content and format. It all depends on the type of job you are applying for, your experience and background, and what works best for your industry.
There are two primary formats that a resume can take. These are the chronological format and the functional format. A chronological resume is one in which you list your employers in chronological order, with the skills and duties performed listed with each employer individually. This is a good format if you have a very stable work history with progressing responsibilities.
A functional resume is one where you list your skills and responsibilities first, then list your employers at the end with little information. This is a better format if you have a lot of skills and experience to bring to the table, but you don’t have a very stable work history.
Essentially, the idea is to bring the best of yourself to the forefront of your resume. You want to grab the attention of your reader and keep their attention. If you don’t put the best of your information at the top, potential employers may never read to the bottom of the page to get that information that could win you the interview. Keep this important aspect in mind when you are formatting your resume and deciding what order to place your information.
You should also carefully consider formatting in the way of font size and type as well. The format of your resume should be easy to skim and read through quickly. Grabbing attention with a fabulous font for your name at the top of the resume may get your resume read, but if they can’t easily read the name because the font is too fancy you probably won’t get a call back. Avoid using too much bold and italics, and only use these formatting features when you are trying to draw attention to something.
What to Include
You should include any education, skills and experience that qualify you for the position you are applying for. This means that your resume may need to be tailored to the specific job for which you are applying. It does not always work to have one resume to use for any job opportunity, especially if your experience is widely varied among different positions and industries.
Include all education that you have received, from high school and beyond. If you earned your GED instead of a diploma, include that information. Do not include any information about middle schools or elementary schools. Only the high school you graduated from and any continuing education like trade schools or colleges should be included on your resume.
You should also include a list of all skills that you have that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. For example, you should list computer skills on most resumes because these skills are becoming commonly necessary for nearly any position. However, if you have skills as a volunteer fireman and you are applying for a job as a construction worker, you should probably keep those skills to yourself. They are not relevant. If you are unsure of what skills may be relevant to the position you are applying for, refer back to the advertisement you found for the position. They will likely list the skills, qualifications, and duties of the position giving you clues as to what to include on your resume.
And, of course, you want to include work history. You should not include your entire work history unless it is a short list, either because you are new to the work force or because you stayed with the same few companies for long periods of time. If you have a lot of work experience at several different places, you should only list the work experience that is relevant to the job for which you are applying. If you are concerned about showing gaps in employment, you can always add a note on the resume stating that a full employment history is available upon request. Of course, if the advertisement requests five or ten years of job history, you should include this automatically with your application.
What to Avoid
There are a few things you should avoid putting on a resume in most cases. Unless they are requested in the advertisement, you should not include a list of references with your resume. You should also avoid posting contact information for your past employers on the resume. This information can be provided later if necessary.
You should also avoid listing volunteer positions unless those positions show a vast amount of responsibility or skill. You may also want to list volunteer positions if you do not have a work history and are new to the work force. However, in most cases you should leave this information off of your resume. If you feel it could win you the job, you can always bring it up in the interview.
Handing It In
This is the single biggest thing people mess up when it comes to resumes. Unless you are specifically instructed to email or fax it in, turn it in by hand to the company you are applying at. Yes, that’s right, you need to physically get off your ass and turn in your resume and the rest of your application in person. And remember, appearance matters when doing something like this as well. If you go in in person and make a good first impression with an HR rep, your name will stand out to them when they go over all the hundreds of applications they received for that cushy new corporate job, and you just might get it because you took the time to run a quick errand.