Jun 05

No matter how professional the content of your resume, it won’t be noticed – or even seen – by hiring managers if you don’t pay equal attention to its physical appearance, meaning the selection of paper and the quality of the print job.

A good rule of thumb for selecting resume paper is to use any shade of white or ivory. As tempting as it may be, never choose colored paper or paper with a background design, even if you feel it represents your personality. Employers want to see a professional-looking resume; they are much more interested in your job qualifications than your favorite color. Graphics can distract from the real purpose of the resume.

Your paper should be high-quality, with a weight between 16 and 25 lbs. and with at least 25% cotton fiber. Use black ink when printing, because it is the easiest to read and faxes and photocopies better than any other color.

Finally, print quality is affected by the size and style of your font. Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and Tahoma are the best fonts to use, so choose one of these in at least a size 10, but no more than a size 12.

Jun 04

Keywords are absolutely essential for inclusion in your resume, most particularly if you are planning on posting it online. Keywords are used to screen resumes to determine whether a candidate possesses the right skills before reading the resume in depth, so you must be sure to know your industry’s buzzwords to understand what should appear on the resume.

That is not to say, however, that you should add keywords just to grab attention. Make sure the keywords you incorporate into your resume are actually relevant and truthful to your particular background and level of expertise.

Carefully read the job posting to determine what the position’s requirements are, then take you cue from that to identify important keywords. They can be industry-specific technologies, techniques, tools or skills that are important to doing a particular job well.

Try to avoid incorporating your keywords in awkward, forced ways. Instead, work them into bulleted lists of skills under a “Professional Profile” or “Qualifications” section. Or, you might include an “Areas of Expertise” section and create a bulleted list of keywords.

May 30

Here are 3 important tips to keep in mind when writing your first resume as a new college graduate:

1. Appearance is key – keep it professional.
Remember, your resume is a potential employer’s first glimpse at you, so if you want to make a good impression you must make sure that your resume conveys the proper image. If you aren’t detail-oriented enough to avoid spelling and grammatical errors on your resume, employers will think you won’t pay attention to the details of the job, either.

Also, never use cutesy or questionable email addresses, such as imaprincess@hotmail.com or hotchick@aol.com. Save these for your friends. For your job search, you need a professional email address that uses just your name, in the following format: firstname.lastname@bellsouth.net.

2. Limit it to one page.
Very few new college graduates have enough background material to fill more than a one-page resume. Your resume is not a life story; rather, it is simply an introduction to your job skills. Use it to present only information that is relevant to your job objective.

3. Don’t embellish!
Never, never lie or exaggerate on your resume. You will almost always be found out. Remember that in a job interview, you will likely be asked to explain or provide concrete and meaningful examples of information that appears on your resume. If you cannot do so, hiring managers may assume you are lying and won’t hire you.

May 25

Law school resumes differ from job resumes in that you need far less detail. The resume sections will be similar – you’ll still have headings for “Education,” “Work Experience,” “Activities,” “Honors,” and the like. You should be able to keep the resume to one page with no problem. But what should be included?

For starters, include all schools, honors and extracurricular activities, as well as paid and volunteer work experiences. Include the number of hours per week you worked during the school year, and list your class rank if it’s higher than average.

Summarize your experience. Here are some examples:

• 4 articles published in various professional journals, 2001-2005; 1 completed work to be submitted and 1 work in progress
• Worked 15 hours per week during the school year to help fund undergraduate education, 2001-2005
• Summer jobs included waitressing, retail sales and bartending
• Member, University of Wisconsin Archery Team, ranked #6 nationwide

The main thing to keep in mind is that you should use your resume to project an image of you as a person and of where you want to go in your career. Leave off irrelevant data – such as computer software skills – but do include anything that supports your long-term career objectives.

May 22

Keywords are an important component of an entry level resume, because they help focus the employer’s attention on your applicable qualifications. Keywords, or buzzwords, are words or phrases that describe your skills, knowledge and abilities. For example, if you are in a technical field, you’ll want to make sure all current technologies with which you are familiar are listed somewhere on the resume.

Also, the presentation of your education information is critical. Be sure to place it on the front of your resume, near the top and in reverse chronological order. Place your degree in bolded letters to stand out.

Even if you have no work experience, don’t leave your resume empty. Make a list of your volunteer work, internships, extracurricular activities, and other experiences, then figure out which ones relate in some way to your job objective, or which ones may have helped you develop a skill that would be transferable to a job. Examples would be leadership, organizational skills or computer literacy.

The thing to remember is that while you want to create a strong resume that represents you well and stands out from the crowd, you don’t want to list everything you’ve ever done. Leave off irrelevant information, and try to tailor your resume to the job posting for which you are applying.

May 18

Successfully securing an internship requires the development of a resume that includes your goals, academic background, skills, accomplishments, experience and activities. It should include information that might not be found on a typical employment resume, such as your high school experiences.

Use a chronological format, listing education and experience by the most recent first. Include an objective statement at the top of the resume, under your personal information, that describes your immediate goal.

In listing your education, include your major, minor, concentration and GPA –both overall and in your major – but only if above a 3.0. List coursework that is relevant to the internship you are seeking, as well as any academic honors and awards.

Add any work experience to your resume. It’s a good idea to divide your work history into sections: 1. Relevant Experience, and 2. Additional Experience. You can include any research and laboratory experience here, or develop a special section for this on the resume.

Other important information that should appear on the resume includes extracurricular activities, volunteer work and special skills, such as computer skills or foreign languages.

May 17

The purpose of your resume is to portray your professional life and your job qualifications. Therefore, it is inappropriate and unnecessary to list personal information, such as hobbies and political affiliations.

Generally, an employer does not care that you enjoy tennis, cross-stitching or stamp collecting. The only exception to the “no hobby” rule is when a hobby directly supports your qualifications for the position. For example, suppose you are applying for a job as an adventure tour guide, and your hobbies are whitewater rafting and hiking. Include them.

Likewise for political affiliations. If you are applying for a job in politics or government, you might include your experience campaigning door-to-door for your local state representative two summers ago. Otherwise, leave it off.

Why is it important to eliminate personal data from a resume? You never want to run the risk of offending someone or giving them a personal reason not to hire you. Yes, this is illegal, but it does happen.

Just remember, your resume is not a life story. It should be a factual summary of your education and experience, and only information that is directly related to or supportive of your job objective should ever appear on it.

May 11

Most positions available today require at least some technical competency. It is important to show all of your technical skills, with the exception of software, hardware or operating systems that are outdated – say, more than even to ten years old.

Include knowledge of all software applications, operating systems, databases, programming languages, and hardware. If you include a technical skill, show in your work history where, and how, you used it.

Create a separate “technical skills” or “technical summary” section on your resume. Tailor it to the job you are applying for. You might choose to present your information in a table format, or as a comma-delineated list, depending on how lengthy your list and how much space on the resume you have to spare.

If you have taken any technical training that would be useful at work, include it on your resume as well. You should place this information in a “professional training,” “professional development,” or “education and training” section.

Organizations tend to favor candidates who are computer literate. You don’t have to be extremely technically experienced, but do include whatever proficiencies you do possess; it may give you an advantage in your job search.

May 10

The key to a successful career change resume is transferable skills. When you are changing careers mid-life, chances are you already have at least 15 or 20 years of job experience, but it may be completely unrelated to your current career objective – at first glance, that is.

Create a section on your resume for transferable skills, which are the skills and abilities you have acquired from past experiences that are transferable to another type of job or industry. They include such qualifications as leadership, organizational skills and computer literacy.

Don’t let your work experience be the focus of your resume. Instead, use a functional format and highlight skills. Develop a “profile” section at the top of your resume that summarizes who you are. If you have recently completed a degree program that is precipitating your career change, include this education near the top of your resume, but leave off your unrelated education.

You must tailor your resume to your target organizations and positions. Do the hard work for the interviewer – make it easy to see why you would be a good fit. Think of yourself as “new and improved” due to your experience in a different field. You offer flexibility and a fresh perspective, which are appealing qualities to many employers.

May 08

As a new graduate you may have little or no job history at all, much less job history specifically relevant to your job objective. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have nothing to put on your resume.

If you have completed an internship, this could be the most valuable experience of all, because you applied what you’ve learned in class to a practical work setting in your chosen field. So highlight that experience by creating a separate “Internship” section on your resume. Provide a detailed description of the work you did and what you learned.

Research experience is important, too, so if you have been a participant in any research projects in your field, list them on your resume. This can include senior projects, major term papers, independent studies or group studies, as long as they are somehow relevant to your objective. Describe the purpose of the study, your role in it, and what was learned or accomplished.

Just remember that employers want to see that you have demonstrated interest in your chosen field beyond simply taking the required courses. Practical experience gained through internships and research projects will be looked upon with much more favor than unrelated part-time jobs and extracurricular activities.