The toughest part of any project is getting started. This is especially true when it comes to writing a resume. For a long time professional, organising your entire work history into one or two pages of effective summaries can be a challenge. It’s equally daunting for students and those of us who are changing careers, facing the demanding task of finding key selling points without strictly relevant experience. Either way, preparation is the crucial first step to writing a dynamic, effective resume and here are some vital tips to help get you on your way.
Experienced pro looking for a new job? Write a chronological resume.
Choosing the type of resume you’ll write is the first thing to do. The two most common types are chronological and functional. A chronological resume is best suited to workers who have experience in a given field already and are looking to change jobs. Work experience is the main selling point of this type of resume and is highlighted first. Jobs and their related accomplishments – more on accomplishments later – are listed in reverse chronological order with the last job first and so on. This puts the most relevant, important information “above the fold” as they say in the newspaper industry.
First job or changing careers? Write a functional resume.
A functional resume is a different type of C.V. It is geared toward students and job-changers, so it puts the focus on relevant abilities instead of experience. The goal here is to show skills you have acquired as a student or as an employee in a different field, and how the abilities and knowledge gained can carry over and translate into the job you’re applying for. A functional resume will start with a section called “relevant skills,” “highlights of qualifications” or something similar, since this is the most important information a job-changer or student can communicate in this situation.
Is your email address professional?
Not every tip here will be very involved or Earth-shattering. But they’re all important. You’ll be listing your email address among your contact data on the resume. Do you have a professional-sounding address? Teddybear25@mailmail.net is not going to get hired for an important job, so if your email address doesn’t pass muster, then sign up for a new one with any of the free online email services or find out if your Internet service provider can give you a new one.
Understand you’re writing a new resume each time
The main reason many job seekers aren’t called in for an interview, outside of lack of qualifications, is that they didn’t write a targeted resume. Instead, these prospective employees fired off a generic, catch-all C.V. to every job opening. Sure, it’s easy to just keep a general-purpose resume on file and send it out straight away. It’s also ineffective. This is going to be hard work, but you are going to have to write a new resume every time. Companies don’t want general information about you. They want to know specifically what you can do for them. Generic resumes leave it up to them to decide if your experience and skills meet their needs. Tell them that they do instead.
Do you need an objective?
The need to list a career objective on a resume is an oft-contested point. Some say they’re irrelevant and just get in the way of the reader getting to the relevant information below. Others consider a career objecting a vital piece of the package and a major selling point. The truth is in the middle. An objective can go a long way to selling you to the employer, but you must have something significant to say. If this job meets a long term or even short term career goal, then it’s a very good idea to spin that into an effective sounding career objective. It can make you sound like a determined, goal-oriented performer. On the other hand, if this opening doesn’t exactly match your goals or you really haven’t formulated career objectives yet, don’t just make something up. In those cases, just leave the career objective out.
Accomplishments, not duties.
Far too many of us write our work history in bulleted lists of past duties. This is a bland way to write a resume and passes on the opportunity to truly show what you can do. With this in mind, you need to list achievements instead of duties. For example, which sounds better?
“Head engineer in charge of call centre telephone system.”
“Research and implemented new telephone system that increased call centre efficiency, saving the company $25,000 annually.”
The first is passive, boring and fails to get across what an effective, valuable employee you are. The second is a fine example that specifically lists a concrete accomplishment. Who would you rather hire?