A resume can make or break your career and, no, that statement is not a hyperbole. When you apply for a job, a resume is the only document your employer can access and your future could depend on how convincing your resume is. A resume is not a listing of your academic and professional achievements; rather, it's more like an advertising pamphlet. Depending on specific needs and requirements, you must craft a resume that pitches those abilities which make your perfect for a particular job. If you have never written a resume before, don't be intimidated. Just follow these simple steps:
The Building Blocks of a Resume
First, decide what sections you want your resume to have. Write out your section headers, and start taking notes. Jot down everything you can think of that fits under each header. Next, you can edit your resume down to a page. An average resume contains the following sections:
This should include your name, address, mobile number and email address. Be sure that all contact information is up to date and that you list a professional-sounding email address. A professional email address should be some variation of your full name.
This is a statement of your professional goals in the form of a sentence or two.
For each item in your employment history, include the name of your former employer, your job position, responsibilities, and achievements. When it comes to mentioning your professional achievements, be as precise as is possible. For instance, instead of writing that you were an efficient manager, write that you successfully managed a team of 14 employees.
Education and Training
List your education and training, starting with your most recent degree or certification.
List the specific skills and abilities that make you ideal for the job you are applying to. For example, if applying for an administrative position, be sure to list the computer programs you are familiar with.
At the end of a resume, include list of 2-3 references, preferably from your former workplace, or a statement that references are available on request.
Draft a strong career objective
While sections like Employment History and Education and Training are largely factual in nature, others like Career Objective and Skills and Abilities are quite subjective. A strong career objective statement is very specific and it encapsulates several details at once. Not only does it reveal your professional abilities, it also suggests that you have an understanding of the nature of work you will be expected to perform. Let's look at an example. Here is a good objective for someone applying for a job in technical management:
"To obtain a challenging role and employ my technical expertise and management skills to find effective solutions that will spearhead the company's progress both in the fields of technology and business".
Contrast the good statement above with the one below, which lacks focus and precision:
"I would like to apply my skills and abilities for the progress of the company."
Pay Close Attention to Formatting
The goal of a resume is to create a short document (usually only a page) that is neat and readable and that makes it easy for a hiring manager to find relevant information about your experience and education. The format of a resume depends largely on recent professional trends. Make sure that you check out some recent resume templates online when drafting your resume. The important thing is to maintain consistency throughout the resume. The sections should be neatly divided, the section headers should be written in bold letters or larger font, and the bullet points must be distinctly visible. Don't go overboard with different fonts here. You can't go wrong with Times New Roman font in size 10 or 12 for the body of your resume.
Proofread Your Resume
It is always a good idea to get a friend to proofread your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors. At times, you might be unable to spot these minute errors but it's important to rectify them before you send your resume to employers.
Edit your resume regularly
Don't send the same resume for every job you apply for. Instead, read the job description carefully and make a list of the required skills and job duties it lists. Then edit your resume to highlight these skills and show specific examples of performing similar job duties. A customized resume is always better than a generic one as it makes you stand out from other applicants. Remember, you don't have to list every bit of experience you have on every resume. Keep it relevant, and keep it to one page.
Writing a good resume is all about precision and brevity. Be accurate, advertise your skills wisely, and keep a tab on the latest trends in the professional world. Good luck! Looking for more resources on resume writing? Check out our articles on resumes for creative professionals and people with gaps in their employment history.