Most women are familiar with the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When crafting a resume, you should keep that expression in mind.
There’s little doubt that once you get through the door, the interview process becomes the single most important element of the job-seeking process. But it’s the resume that opens that door. It’s a document that summarizes your education, accomplishments, goals and skills in one tight package. A resume alone won’t land a job. It should, in fact, be considered a success if it doesn’t exclude you from being a candidate for that job. It’s your pathway toward the interview and one misstep in the resume can trip you up.
Whether you’re writing your first resume or updating it for the 15th time, it may seem like a daunting task; but you don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to pull off a well-written and well-organized resume. In fact, when putting together your resume, don’t even think like the famous Harry Potter author or any other famous writer. A resume is not your freshman English paper. Word usage, punctuation, grammar and spelling are all important, of course, but the resume is a business document that should outline, summarize and follow a reader-friendly format with brevity. Long-winded ramblings that include every accomplishment from your first lemonade stand to your sorority chapter presidency aren’t necessary.
So then, what is necessary in pulling off a successful, polished resume? Here are five pointers to keep in mind:
Don’t trust yourself: This author once saw the word “addition” included in the experience section of a resume. Problem was, the job seeker meant to use the word “edition,” referring to a particular publication. Ouch! Always get a second or even third pair of eyes to read your resume. Needless to say, spelling errors, bad grammar and typing mistakes can sink your job-searching ship before it leaves the dock. Fortunately, there are more liberties when writing an article about winning resumes.
Go beyond the paper: It used to be easy to format your resume. Type it out on a white piece of paper with the proper margins and, viola, you’re done. Maybe that’s the way your mother did it, but this is the 21st century and the Internet controls everything. Paper still flies in some circles, but resumes have to be prepared to be emailed and posted on the Internet as well. Not all resumes are created equal. The resume you create with MS Word or on your Mac can look very different to the receiver if it’s not formatted properly. In today’s high-tech world, consider having three versions of your resume, including one that’s printable, one that can be scanned and one that can be emailed. Consider flash or web resumes as well, which add a touch of flair while maintaining a sense of professionalism.
Custom comfort: The objective when sending a resume is to connect with an employer, and not all employers are created alike. Your skills may qualify you for a variety of industries, so customize it in a way that relates to a particular job. You don’t have to rewrite your entire resume depending on a particular job posting, but streamline and maneuver some of the key points so they address the requirements an employer requires.
Service with a smile: If you don’t have the time or confidence to write your own resume, there are plenty of resume writing services that can help. If you can’t express your skills and abilities on paper, find a service that has a track record of bringing out the best in resumes. A quality resume service should be experienced and offer a personalized resume. It should offer samples of resumes and cover letters. Also, there’s no reason to stay local with the Internet at your fingertips. Retaining a resume service is something that can be done using the computer, phone and email. So compare the national services and how they stack up against each other.
Teena Rose is a highly endorsed resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, Designing a Cover Letter to ‘Wow’ Hiring Personnel, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.
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