By Mary Ann Nalbandian
You know that a resume is critical to your job search, but it’s been a long time since you’ve written one. You’ve shown your old resume to a few people and learned that resume styles and even the content of resumes have changed since you conducted your last job search.
So you have spent some time on the content issue determining your greatest skills and strengths, reviewing your job responsibilities and more importantly reviewing your accomplishments. You are clear on the types of positions you will be applying for. Now that you have this information, it’s time to consider the best way to format your resume so it grabs the attention of the readers, (someone in HR, a computer scanner programmed to search for key words, and the hiring manager) long enough to make a positive impression. For an experienced worker, the best resume style for making that positive impression is the combination or hybrid style, a resume style that combines the best features of the chronological and functional resume. So it’s time to turn on your computer and use MS Word to write your new resume.
Step One: FONT and MARGINS
Set your margins to.7 inches. Choose an easy to read font like Arial and use an 11 or 12 point font.
Step Two: HEADING
Center your name and address. Your name should be bold in 14 point font. Don’t let this section show your age; show that you are technologically current with an email address and a cell phone number! List your personal, not work email address. If you are job hunting you should have an email address you use just for this purpose. Show that you are up-to-date by listing your cell phone number as well. You can include your home land line but list the cell number, too. You don’t want anyone to think you are sitting at home all day.
Step Three: OBJECTIVE
You need to decide whether or not you need to include an OBJECTIVE. This section is optional. If you are applying for a position that is a promotion you may want to use one. For example one of my clients was applying for the position of middle school principal, but his current position was that of assistant principal. If you are answering an advertisement or posting and are customizing your resume for this position, then an objective states clearly the position you are applying for. A nurse who is answering an ad that lists several nursing positions may want to clearly indicate the one position that she or he is interested in.
Step Four: PROFESSIONAL PROFILE
This section can be labeled or unlabeled. Typical labels you might use for this section include: PROFILE, SELECTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or CAREER HIGHLIGHTS. If you did not use an OBJECTIVE, begin your PROFILE by putting your position in bold. Sales Management Professional with 20 plus years of proven ability to…or IT Program Manager with proven record of…
Resumes now stress only the last fifteen years of your work experience. If some of your best experience is more than fifteen years ago mentioning your 20 plus years of success is appropriate. Just don’t use a number greater than 20!
The Profile section is the place to include your skills that will transfer to a new position and your accomplishments. Liberally include the key words used in your field. Phrases that strengthen a professional profile include:
Proven track record of…
Skilled and effective in…
Professional reputation as…
Collaborated effectively to…
Resourceful problem solver with…
This is the section of the resume that you will find yourself customizing for each job that you apply for. Once job seekers sent the same resume out for every job posting and maybe customized their cover letters. Now your resume and cover letter will need to be tailored for each position that you apply for.
Step Five: PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
If the companies that you worked for are notable, put the companies first and capitalize their names. If your job titles are more significant, put them first. Dates of employment are less important and should be on the right side of the page. For example:
VERIZON, Natick, Massachusetts 2003 – Present
Marketing Director 2003 – Present
Fox Hollow Real Estate, Clifton Park, New York
Under each job listing, indent and bullet your accomplishments. Do not use the phrase, responsible for. Accomplishments are now expected on your resume. What did you do and what were the results? Begin your phrases with words like exceeded, launched, enhanced, increased, expanded, saved, doubled, reduced, achieved, and turned around. If possible quantify each accomplishment.
Step Six: PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
This is where you can add earlier positions and companies that are relevant. List only the name of the company/organization, location, and position.
Step Seven: EDUCATION
Label your next section EDUCATION if you have a college degree or significant college experience. list your degrees in reverse chronological order. Listing the dates that you earned the degrees is optional. Many experienced workers do not list the dates. If your degree or your major is not relevant to the position do not include it. You can put B.A. or Bachelor of Arts without saying that is was in Film Studies. If your Masters degree will make you look overqualified and too expensive, don’t mention it. If the job specifically mentions that you need at least a high school diploma, then list your high school in this section and the fact that you graduated. If you have been doing work that is usually associated with having a college degree and you don’t have one; skip this section and go on to Step Eight.
Step Eight: ONGOING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This is where you can list on the job training as well as other relevant training you have had. This is a suitable place to list your computer skills.
There is no one right way to write a resume. The Internet provides numerous samples and examples. A professional resume writer can make the process of producing a resume more effective.
For more tips on resumes, cover letters, and conducting a job search visit the author’s website http://www.career-development-services.com. Mary Ann is the owner of Career Development Services and teaches Self-Assessment and Career Planning at Quinsigamond Community College. She is now in the process of building a new website, My LifeMyWorkMyWay that focuses on the career issues of those over age 50.