Saturday, April 18, 2009

An Effective Resume Guide

An Effective Resume

To understand what makes a resume effective, think of what it has to do. It has to attract the eye of a prospective employer, immediately communicate why you’re qualified, and tell something about who you are—inside of a minute’s time! That’s all you can expect from a typical, busy manager.

When you’ve seen as many resumes as we have, you can compile a long list of misguided resumes that won’t even get that minute: five-page resumes; graphics created by somebody with no graphics skills; brash resumes; sarcastic resumes, presumptuous resumes—the list goes on, which is too bad, because it’s not that hard to create a good resume, if you keep a few simple tips in mind.

1) Keep it short. This will take some work and time. Rework it until it says as much as it can about you in the fewest possible words. One page is ideal, but if you have an extensive work history, you’re justified in going on to a second page.

2) Make it attractive. This is the “attract the eye” part. Attractive in the world of resumes equates to clean. You can achieve this by the judicious use of white space, headers, bold face, underlining and italics. You don’t need more than that.

3) Tell a story. This is the story of your professional life. A prospective employer should be able to follow the thread of your career summary, and it should make sense. Detours are OK—most of us have at one time or another detoured into a different field—but in a resume, treat these like spice: you don’t want too much of them.

4) Keep it focused. Keep a strong focus on your goals, incorporating parts of your background to illustrate them. A statement of your goals is one of the clearest indicators to a prospective employer of whether or not there might be a match.

5) No mistakes, please! A resume with a mistake in it is a traveling billboard advertising your carelessness and inattention. Proofread it. And ask somebody else to proofread it. Watch for mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Check how the dates follow one another: does the chronology make sense?

6) Online Considerations. You need to take into account resume-scanning search engines. They will be looking for keywords and key-skills, for example "J2EE," "C#," in the IT job world. Make sure that you include these key terms near the top of your in a separate skills section. Also, you need to put these skills in the specific job context that you used them. Although your resume may become slightly longer, this can offer you a better match.

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