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Five Steps to Creating an Effective Resume
It can be difficult to know exactly where to start when writing your resume. Also, these days you need to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for to increase your chances of getting interviews. This article will help guide you step by step through the process.
Basic key points
Conventional wisdom says that your resume should be no longer than two pages. If you can keep it on one page without compromising the content, that would be even better. It’s also important to keep the format clean and make sure your writing is concise and relevant. Your goal is to keep the reader’s attention on what you can contribute to their organization.
Gather your information
First, gather all of your information, such as the different educational institutions you attended, names and addresses of past and current employers, and dates of employment. Your format for addresses for these institutions should be city and state only. Don’t go back more than ten years. If it’s been a while, you may need to Google former employers and educational institutions for contact information. You may also need to look at old ratings for job descriptions of previous positions you’ve held.
Decide what type of resume will work best for you
When formatting your resume, you’ll need to decide on one of three resume types: chronological, functional, or a combination. Use your own unique personal circumstances to decide which will work best for you. For example, you’ll want to use a chronological resume if you’ve held fewer than four relevant jobs in the past ten years. Use a functional resume if you’ve held more than four different types of jobs in the past ten years. You want to highlight relevant skills and don’t want to give the appearance of ‘job hopping’. This type of resume is also good to use if you are a recent high school or college graduate and haven’t gotten much work experience yet. Consider using a combined resume to give more flexibility if you want to use it to apply to several different jobs.
Writing the first draft
Next, you will need to structure your content for the resume. You might want to do a Google search and take a look at different resume templates to get an idea of which one would work for you. The following are the six basic sections to include in your resume.
Contact information. First and last name, city and state, email address, professional and relevant websites such as LinkedIn. It is not recommended that you include your full address; you want to minimize the risk of being a victim of identity theft.
Soft skills and keywords. Soft skills refer to a set of personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make you a good employee. Potential employers will often use these skills in the job advertisement. Additionally, these traits also tend to double as keywords whenever recruiters search for resumes online. Make sure you use the soft skills that are relevant in this section of your resume. Don’t overdo it, use your common sense. Examples of soft skills: positive attitude, problem solving ability, teamwork, good communication skills, etc.
Relevant work experience – Don’t just list your job descriptions. Remember, the idea here is to tailor your resume to the particular job you’re applying for. Take your job description, find keywords that match the desired skills advertised in the job posting, and develop your bullet points accordingly.
achievements – It is important to mention relevant achievements. Give quantifiable and contextual results, such as “increased department sales from 90 percent to 96 percent, reversing a five-year downward trend across the department.”
education – List the name of the institution, the location, the specialty and the year of degree/certification completed. If you’ve taken a few classes here and are still working towards completing your degree, enter it this way: Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, due May 2012. List only your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher.
Professional organizations and associations – Make sure they are relevant to the job(s) you are applying for. Example: Member of Psi Ro Sorority, 2001 – 2004. If you held an important position within the organization, be sure to highlight the responsibilities involved in the position and the dates you held it.
Adjust and condense
It’s always a good idea to let someone else read your resume. Another set of eyes can spot something you might miss. Also, try reading it out loud to yourself. This will give you an idea of how your resume “flows” and if anything may need to be omitted or revised. If your content fills two pages or more, you may want to consider shortening some of your sentences and bullet points.
Writing the final draft
Now you are ready to write the final draft of your resume. Remember that this resume will serve as the master copy. It will be your template to use and revise to adapt to other jobs you apply for. For example, you can apply for a specialist position in your field as well as a management position. Obviously, you will need to highlight specific skills for each position, but the basic information will remain the same. This will help you tailor your resume more effectively for each position you apply for.
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