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Resume Advice

So, You Want to Compose Your Own Resume…

We would love the opportunity to professionally prepare your resume package. But if, however, you decide to chance composing your own resume, we feel obligated to pass on some advice that may give you a better chance at making that final interview cut.

There is so much more that goes into the composition of a stellar, interview-winning resume than we can get into in the following sections, but we wish to at least guide you in the right direction if you decide to go it alone. Remember … no one is going to call you say that a substandard resume cost you a chance at the position and you’ll never know if it was your skill set or resume that is to blame, so be sure to give thought to each point below:

  • Determine your career direction before beginning your resume composition

    One of the questions on our questionnaire addresses the type of position for which you are applying or career direction. This is an important part of your overall resume development strategy.
  • Know Your Audience

    Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager who will review your resume submission. What will they be looking for as far as content and style? Remember … you only have an average of 17-20 seconds to get your point across … make certain you’re speaking their language up front!
  • Watch for information an employer DOESN'T want to know

    There are questions that are illegal for an employer to ask during the interview/hiring process. If these same items are volunteered on your resume, it can remove you from hiring consideration. Although the information was not requested by the potential employer, they won’t wish to put themselves in the position of defending the fact that they were aware of this information down the line. Perform some research regarding the latest changes in HR regulations as they relate to interviewing.
  • Substance over Fluff

    Some hiring managers see hundreds of resumes every day. They have seen it all, and trying to “fluff up” your resume with unnecessary and overly eloquent verbiage will only result in a tossed resume. You need to communicate within 20 seconds your major qualifications, so precision is the key.
  • Short, precise sentences are a must

    This could have easily fallen under the previous heading, but we felt it important to separate and highlight this point. Resumes are not required to adhere to strict, standard grammatical sentence structure. When you have to communicate your skills, qualifications and accomplishments in one or two pages, space is usually at a premium. Eliminate all extraneous wording and focus on precision, successfully communicating each point as succinctly as possible.
  • Chronological or functional resume ... which is right for you?

    Whether your resume adheres to the chronological or functional format depends on several factors. If you are attempting to switch careers, have sizable gaps in your employment history, or show plenty of job changes within the past 10-15 years, you may be a candidate for a functional resume. Otherwise, the chronological format (or a combination format) is best.
  • Make your header attractive

    You want your resume to be noticed, so remember to make your header attractive, yet within the boundaries of industry expectations. Your name should be larger than the rest of the text and the font bold.
  • Action words are a must

    We cannot stress enough that you only have 17-20 seconds to impress the person reviewing your resume, so you must make an impact … and FAST! Your resume should be packed with action words to grab the reviewer’s attention. Remember, you are like a writer trying to grab your reader’s attention early so he/she will keep reading. Make sure they are captivated.
  • Use keywords so your resume is searchable

    In the future, you may decide to scan your resume into a database or e-mail it to an employer who will scan it into theirs. Your resume won’t be “searchable” if you don’t load up on your particular industry/position’s keywords. Qualified applicants often miss out on employment opportunities because this detail is ignored.
  • Make the proper use of white space and alignment

    Your resume has to be easy on the eyes or Hiring Managers just won’t read it. It has been proven to be easier on readers to provide the proper amount of white space with your text, as well as making sure it is aligned properly. One trick to assist with proper alignment is to make use of tables and text boxes which are features in most word processors.
  • Include a Summary Section

    Again, we refer to that 17-20 seconds to impress. The Summary Section gives a potential employer a high-level overview of your career direction, skills and accomplishments. This can be utilized with or in lieu of an Objective.
  • Include all relevant certifications and training classes

    Sometimes it is easy to forget those little training classes your previous job sent you to attend, but they are an important part of your career profile. Be sure to include them all on your resume. If you have many certifications and training courses taken, give them their own section so they stand out for an employer.
  • Be sure to highlight major accomplishments

    Be certain to make all accomplishments stand out. If you decide to list achievements under each job title, be sure to use italics or bold font. If there are enough of them, they should have their own section. Also, be specific when detaining your achievements. If you improved line productivity, detail how and by what percentage.
  • Have someone proofread your resume

    You can review your document 10 times and notice nothing. Give the same document to an associate and they spot spelling and grammatical errors within seconds. A second set of eyes are always necessary to ensure the document you send out is error-free. Spell-check will not find every error. If the wrong word is used, but that word is still in the dictionary, it will be missed. Get as many people as you can to check your work before printing any final copies.
  • Prepare an ASCII and PDF version of your resume

    This is a standard part of the Resume Clinic Packages. ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange) resumes are ideal for copying/pasting into an e-mail body or online submission when an attachment cannot be sent. It would be a shame to lose out on a great opportunity because your MS Word resume won’t transfer well to an e-mail body. ASCII resumes are basically stripped-down versions of your resume without the formatting bells and whistles. The PDF version of your resume makes great e-mail attachments because even if the recipient does not have MS Word, they are likely to have access to the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and can view your resume. Additionally, it will have the added security of being un-editable, unlike an MS Word submission.
  • A cover letter is a must!

    No resume should ever be mailed or dropped off without an accompanying cover letter. While your resume is an objective portrayal of your experience, skills and accomplishments, the cover letter rounds it out as a subjective communication of intangibles you bring to the table. It should, however, be not be overly long and wordy. Never, EVER, submit a resume without one.
  • Use resume posting services as part of your career search arsenal

    More and more employers are going to the Internet to find talent and you need to have a presence. Many companies out there offer profiles where you can submit your resume to multiple resume posting sites at once. This is where your searchable keywords go to work for you in your resume summary section.
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