“The longest journey begins with a step.” That’s how the saying goes, anyway. It’s certainly true of resume writing, that’s for sure. It can be a daunting task to boil down a career into a one or two page summary of highlights that is brief yet effective. This is the challenge resume writers face and it’s sometimes tough to decide where to begin. Thankfully, you’re here reading this and here are five more tips you help you start writing an effective resume that will get the interview for the job you want.
Understand the whole point of the resume.
Why are you writing a resume? Is it to produce flowery recorded history of every job you’ve ever had and each responsibility and duty you’ve been tasked with at those jobs, recorded for posterity’s sake? Of course not.
Too many job seekers don’t understand this, though. They get caught up in being thorough and seem so impressed with themselves that their resume quickly becomes a packed, convoluted mess. The point here is to understand that the purpose of a resume is not to provide your life’s story. Rather, it is to sell you to an employer. Think of it another way. A resume isn’t a book about your life as an employee. It’s a television commercial and the product is you. All effective resume writing flows from this fact, including our next tip.
Match your skills to their needs.
Since a resume is actually an advertisement, it’s vital to make the recipient understand what it is you’re selling. A good television commercial doesn’t just show off a product, it explicitly tells the viewer exactly why they can’t live without that product. This is the point of a resume, too.
You already should know that you will be tailoring a resume to the job opening at hand, not writing a generic C.V. The way to do that is to create a correlation between their needs and your abilities. To do this, read the details of the job opening announcement and take notes. Consider your past employment and relevant skills and find areas where your past accomplishments and abilities match the needs the employer defined. These will be listed first, with the rest to follow. You need to tell them in no uncertain terms that you are the best fit.
How many pages should a resume be?
Long-accepted conventional wisdom states that a resume should never exceed one page. This is one rigid rule of thumb that should be eliminated. A resume’s flow and overall look should never be sacrificed in the name of getting it all on one sheet. Brevity should also not be achieved at the expense of leaving out valid, crucial selling points.
A good resume that is targeted, easy to read and effectively lists accomplishments will take up room on the page. This is especially true if the resume writer is a seasoned professional with a history of relevant experience and achievements. A resume can certainly take two pages if that’s what’s needed for it o convey all the important information and still look good on paper.
Remember white space.
Speaking of looking good on paper, the concept of white space is very important. Short paragraphs, adequate spacing, wide enough margins and brief, bulleted lists all provide white space on the paper and make a resume so much easier to read. Consider the alternative. Long blocks of text that extend margin to margin with no end in sight. Who would want to read that?
White space functions as “breathing room” in a world of suffocating long paragraphs. Consider this very article, for example, and how it is broken into small paragraphs. If it weren’t divided in such a fashion, you wouldn’t just have a hard time reading it; you probably wouldn’t even try to. White space is pleasing to the eye and inviting. It makes it easy to read even a long resume, too. If you’re in doubt, imagine an encyclopaedia on the table in front of you, side by side with a grocery list. Which would you rather read?
Contact your references
Some companies ask for references up front, asking for them to be listed on your resume. Others will surely get to them later. Either way, it’s best to be prepared and, more importantly, for your references to be prepared for a call. Contact three or four former employers, co-workers or professors from university – anyone who can vouch for you as an effective employee or diligent worker – and ask if they wouldn’t mind being listed as a reference. This isn’t just a courtesy. It prepares them for a call from the employer and gets them in a mode where they’re thinking of nice things to say. Oh, and be sure to get their latest contact information.