When submitting a resume to a potential employer it must be powerful and effective. Chances are they will receive several, maybe hundreds, of other resumes and yours will only get a few seconds of review before it is either sent to the trash or the next round in the hiring process. There are many elements in a resume, and no one format or formula is a guarantee for success. Often times, it is best to tailor the resume to the specific position applied for. A resume should advertise your most impressive skills and qualities, convincing the employer that you are potentially the best qualified for the position. If this is done effectively, you will likely be contacted for a job interview. If not, it needs a little refining and revamping to send the message home next time around.
Since the resume will be one of many, and the reader has several to go through in more than likely a short period of time, it is important that they find it easy to scan or read through. You want it to contain a lot of information but at the same time the sections should have a limited amount of text so that they are clear and concise. Many suggest limiting the resume to one page, but don’t hold back if you have a lot of valuable information to share.
Before writing the resume make notes of all the information needed for each section. A typical resume will include: objective, attributes, areas of expertise, work experience, education, and activities.
The objective should be as specific as possible. It should state the position desired and what you will do in that position. The objective should be rewritten specifically for each job applied for, or if posting online can be a generic and positive message. A generic example would be: To use my skills and abilities to meet the goals of the organization.
In the attributes portion of the resume, a brief narrative or list should highlight some of your best characteristics. A good thing to mention here would be interpersonal and communication skills. (For information on developing your interpersonal skills, click here.)
When developing the areas of expertise segment of the resume, focus on specific skills you have perfected and any additional training you may have received. List certifications such as A&P, IA, or FCC. Also list other professional certifications including those similar to Six Sigma, NDT, etc. This is also a great time to list any relevant experience with computer software programs as well as any foreign languages spoken.
A very important part of any resume is the listing of work experience or job history. Here the employer will look to see companies within the same industry. They will also note any gaps in employment, so if you do get an interview, be prepared to discuss these at that time. When building your job history, include paid jobs, internships, and even volunteer work. If you have a rather extensive job history, begin with the most recent position held and go back six to 10 years including only positions held as an adult.
Each job section should consist of the company name, location (city and state), years employed there, and any title held. Follow this with a brief bulleted list of duties. Use “action words” to describe duties or accomplishments and try to keep them relevant.
The education section should, in reverse chronological order, include any post secondary degrees or if none are held, a list of computer or technical skills. For each degree, include the name of the college or university, graduation year, and major area of study. If the grade point average is above 3.0 it should be included as well.
Follow the education portion with an activities section that lists any student groups, trade associations or other relevent organizations in which you are an active member.
After compiling these sections in an order that you feel best reflects your strong areas, review the contents for any errors in spelling or grammar. It may be easier to catch these errors on a printed copy rather than when viewing it on a computer monitor. Also have a friend or colleague review the resume for errors or to make general suggestions.
Once the resume is at its best, print it on a high quality paper. If you would like to include references print those on a separate sheet, never on the resume itself. As always with applications and resumes: Be honest! The information listed on your resume will be discussed in depth during an interview, and if a lie or exaggeration is uncovered, all of the hard work done to produce a quality resume will be out the window ... and you ... out the door.