That’s right, employers expect a resume. There’s no way to get around it. You might as well get started now so that you have a strong resume when opportunity knocks.
Keep in mind that a resume will not get you a job. The purpose of the resume is to interest an employer enough that they will interview you. A resume should highlight your skills and achievements, while making clear what contributions you can make to the company.
Many people make the mistake of believing that a resume is all about them. In reality, everything included in your application materials, including the resume, should be focused on the employer and what you can do for them. Don’t expect the employer to “read between the lines” or take the time to decipher what you’re trying to say. Be clear. Be concise.
Each individual is unique and their resume should be also.
Get started by documenting your experience, skills and accomplishments. Use the data sheets to begin the process. Write down everything you remember about a job. It will be important when building the bullet points for your resume.
After writing down absolutely everything you can think of, start sorting through the information. Think about the skills and techniques you used to accomplish tasks. Which of those skills, techniques and accomplishments are most appropriate for the position?
Once you have an idea about the skills, techniques and accomplishments you want to include, start formulating some bullet points. Bullet points should begin with action verbs and speak to your skills, responsibilities and accomplishments. They should not be complete sentences. In fact, there should not be any complete sentences on your resume. Remember to focus on what you have to offer the employer.
The format of your resume really does matter. It needs to be easy to follow and utilize bullet points so the information is easy to find.
There are dozens, even hundreds, of formatting options for resumes. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want the reader (employer) to struggle. When choosing a format, look at it through the eyes of an employer. It is easy to follow? Does it flow well? Does the organization make sense? Is the important information easy to find?
There is also much debate about whether to use a functional or chronological format. We normally recommend a combination approach and try to capture the best of both formats. If you are having difficulty deciding on a format, visit Career Services for individual assistance.
In addition, try to keep your resume to one page if possible. If you have a lot of relevant information then it is okay to go onto a second page. Your resume should never be more than two pages long. Proofread!
It is absolutely imperative that you have at least three people proofread your resume. Choose people who have strong spelling and grammar skills and that you can trust to be honest. Spelling and grammar errors on a resume can lead to it being thrown in the trash. This document needs to be perfect.
The objective should be very short and does not need to be a complete sentence. An ideal objective tells the employer exactly what you are applying for. A good way to accomplish this is to use the title of the position you are interested in.
Objective: Customer Service Representative at company XYZ.
The Summary of Qualifications section is your opportunity to really shine. This section should include 5-8 bullet points of the most important information an employer should know about you. Speak to the specific skills and qualifications you have that make you the perfect candidate for the job. For example, if you have previous experience in the field or specialized training in a certain aspect of the job, list it here. Use bullet points that begin with action verbs. Determine what you have to offer that the other candidates don’t and use that to your advantage.
This section is very important because it not only tells the reader where you worked, but gives you the chance to really sell your skills
Transferable skills are “skills you have acquired during any activity in your life – jobs, classes, projects, parenting, hobbies, sports, virtually anything, that are transferable applicable to what you want to do in your next job” (QuintCareers.com). In other words, they are skills that you already have that you can use in your new field of work or in the job position you are applying for.
Even though you may not realize it, you have a plethora of skills that you use daily. Parents provide direction for their children. (That’s a leadership skill!) Students use time management when setting aside time to study. (Another skill!) These are examples of skills you use every day that are transferable. Don’t forget the skills that you use at your current job as well. Just because it may be a different line of work than the position you are applying for doesn’t mean another employer will not benefit.
Most importantly, look at the job description for the job you are applying for. What skills are they looking for? What words do they use to describe those skills? You should use as many of the same words in describing yourself as possible, while staying honest, of course.
Students: you use multi-tasking skills when balancing homework between several classes. You are able to meet deadlines when you turn a paper in on time. You conduct research for projects and papers. Additionally, you reach goals by working hard and earning the grades you want.
Waitress applying for Secretarial position:
A waitress uses multi-tasking skills by balancing the needs of several tables at once, provides customer service to her guests through conversation and handling conflicts, listens attentively as the guest requests food and beverage items and relays food orders from the guest to the cook staff. A secretary uses these skills everyday! A secretary uses multi-tasking skills when answering phones and assisting individuals in the office, customer service skills when working on the front-lines with customers to make a positive first impression, listening skills when determining customers’ and supervisors’ needs and relays information from customers to supervisors.
When identifying your transferable skills there are 5 categories to consider. The QuintCareers website names the categories as:
Many of these categories are used in jobs that you will be applying for. Therefore, it would be to your benefit to include the skills you possess in these categories in your cover letter and on your resume.
Use the transferable skills worksheet to help you identify the skills you have used in previous positions. This will help tremendously when building bullet points for your resume. In addition, keep this worksheet in your portfolio for future reference.
There are several additional headings that can be included on your resume.. You must consider your personal situation and determine if any of the additional headings are appropriate for you. Just remember to format these sections in the same way you do the rest of your resume.