Unfortunately for most job hunters, writing a resume is the scariest and most daunting part of the job search process. What is said in a resume will set an indelible impression on the hiring manager reading the resume. If a resume is not well written and presented in an organized layout, it is more than likely going to end up in a file full of people not to contact for a job. Yes, those files do exist in hiring managers’ offices. Your resume writing skills may be slightly rusty, especially if you’ve been working in the same position for more than a few years. There is no reason to fear the resume writing process, however. Simplicity is often the key to presenting your best assets to a potential employer.
The Most Important Part of a Resume
The most important part of a resume is also the easiest information to fill into your chosen resume format. Potential employers will not give any regard to your strengths or weaknesses if they have no way to contact you. Yes, the most important part of a resume is your contact information. For a clean look and easy presentation of your contact information, this section should head your first page and be centred with a dividing line below the information. Contact information should include the basics such as name, address and phone number, as well as a valid email and/or mobile number where you can be reached.
Concerning the email address you may include in the resume section of your resume, presenting a cutesy email address because you got it online for free is not the best way to impress a hiring manager. If you chose the frivolous email online for free, you can also chose a more professional email address for free; you should always present a valid email address that plays some variation on your name. Hiring managers and employers consider resumes to be marketing information on future employees and are looking for the most professional presentation possible.
Regarding personal information that may be included in the contact section of your resume, you are not legally obligated to provide either your age or your marital status to a potential employer. There are any number of hiring managers and employment recruiters today that seriously advise against including your age in any pre-employment resume or cover letter. Although it is not socially acceptable today, there are plenty of people out there with a definite prejudice against age.
Simple Layout or Complicated and Fussy
Overly fussy resumes with a great deal of table formatting, variations on font sizes and types and different types of bullet points are often confusing and will get passed over by hiring managers for interview opportunities. Keeping the layout of your resume simple and clean, with the same type of font and bullet points throughout, will make for a more professional presentation of your abilities and skills. The only real change to font style you will want to include is the bolding of section headings. Do not bold and underline the section, which is a bit fussy, just make the heading in bold print to draw the eye quickly and efficiently.
What Can You Do for Your Future Employer
By listing your key strengths and abilities first in the body of your resume, you present to a potential employer the information they most need to know about you. Providing a strong bulleted list first, a hiring manager will be able to possibly put you in the short list of people to contact, without having to go through your entire resume. One of the key mistakes people make in this area of resume writing is not providing concise detail for their key strengths. It is not enough to simple use the same lines everyone else is, as in letting the hiring manager know you have good communication skills, you need to provide a concise detail of how you use your skills and how you acquired them. A general guideline is to include six key strengths in bullet points, but there is no hard and fast rule for this area.
Career Overview and Work History – How Much is Too Much
The career overview portion of any resume should be concise, detailed and, above all else, factual. Any statements made in this portion of the resume that do not pertain to actual career accomplishments or skills do not need to be included. In fact, most hiring managers will bypass the rest of the resume if there is no hard factual statement made in the career overview section. Stating what your professional is, how many years of experience you have, types of businesses you have worked in and any recent degree completions is providing plenty of information for the hiring manager.
When providing the career overview in resume writing, no employer really needs to have your work history dating past 10 years ago. Usually this information is not relevant and is also not necessary for most positions requiring background verification. Work history should always be outlined in reverse chronological order, most recent or current position first. There is no need to include a description of the employer, and what they do, unless they are not commonly known or are located in another country. Stating the job title, name of the employer and dates you were employed should head each job listing.
When including the responsibilities of your position with various employers, more is not better. Listing only the responsibilities you were directly accountable for is important in this section. Another good rule of thumb when listing previous positions is to list some of your accomplishments with that employer. A good guideline for this part of resume writing is to list three accomplishments for each job you held.
Education, Training, References
When listing education and training, it is always best to list the highest professional qualifications first. Resume writing in this section can be a bit tricky, but unless you just graduated from secondary school, it is not necessary to include that bit of education. It is a good idea to include any advance career training you have received, including in-house training from previous employers that may pertain to the position you are applying to.
References should always be listed last in the resume information and should only include valid landline phone contact information. It is not as professional to provide the mobile phone numbers for three of your closest mates as references. Using previous employers or supervisors, with their permission, is always a more professional route to take.
Final Note on Resume Writing
It is not always the best idea, though many resume writers do this, to include a section for hobbies and interests. Some employers may find your hobbies dangerous or may get the wrong idea about you from your interests. Keeping the resume on a professional level will earn a much better impression of you as a future employee. Additionally, unless you have been in the working world for longer than 5 years, a two page resume will provide all the information a hiring manager will need to make a decision on whether to call you. Keeping the layout, the format and the information simple, concise and truthful will get you to the head of the line. Resume writing is still considered a scary task by most, but with careful crafting and a clear plan, you can write a job winning resume easily.