Writing a Resume that Stands Out
Each resume you submit should be tailored specifically for that position for which you are trying to obtain. You have most likely held numerous positions in your life up to this point (otherwise a resume is not going to help you), and you know what experience you have that is marketable to a new employer. Let’s say you have had 5 positions since high school that you are working with to put on a resume, if you are applying for an office job, you would choose the office related positions to embellish more than say your retail experience. If you were applying for a customer service position, you might make the retail experience sound more geared toward the customer service aspect of the job. All of your experience is relative to where you want to go with it. I have had retail positions help me get jobs in teaching areas and office areas all based on the angle I put them towards in the resume submission to the unique job description. You should begin by listing your past experience in reverse order starting with your current or most current job and going backwards to your least recent. If you have jobs that have little or no value in respect to the wanted job you are applying for, do not put them in. It might not always be possible to omit jobs if you worked them for significant amounts of time in between 2 jobs you do wish to put down. In that case, simply list the company and job title and do not waste paper explaining the duties if they are remedial or meaningless to the job you are aiming for. You also do not need to go back that far in time as long as you have 2-3 positions that span a few years; that will suffice. I have seen some resumes that list high school jobs that are of no value whatsoever to a real-world job and these are best left out unless you are still in high school and are applying for similar positions. There are many ways to structure your job experience blurbs within your resume. I usually give a paragraph form overview of 2-3 lines and then list bullet points that outline highlights of the pertinent experience I received from each position. The bullets are key spots to embellish and add to the positions to make them sound more meaningful to the wanted position. I would recommend adding 3-4 bullets per useful job description. If you are a fresh college graduate and do not hold much experience, be creative with any classes, internships, study groups, special projects, research assistantships, etc in order to make it sound like you didn’t just go to class for 4 years and did nothing but party and drink for the remainder of the time you spent there. I had a few research positions (that were for credit) and worked in a computer lab and I made it sound like I worked in an office environment supporting professors to being a customer service contact in a high volume learning center (all changed by the spin of the description, I made nothing up but choose more eloquent ways to push my experience to a more substantial aim. Once the job description section is done, an Education section is needed to display your credentials and show off your GPA (if it was worth showing off); include any organizations or awards you may have received. Next should be a Skills section which lists any special skills you might have that are DIRECTLY PERTITNENT to the job you are going for. This includes: computer skills, programs proficient in, typing skills, social skills, etc. Try to stay away from listing wishy washy traits like “Multi-tasking”, “Great attention to detail”, “Goal oriented”; these are best left to market in the interview process.
This should be your personal address to the company you want to read your resume and you want to consider you for the job. Many people cut and paste these without making direct references to the job description details that match with their abilities. You resume should be the standard package of information that sets you apart from every other candidate, your cover letter should be the bridge that puts your resume into the heart and mind of the interviewer and ultimately gets you a call. Cover letters do not need to be lengthy but more so should be concise and quick to the point about how good you are for this job and how well you think you would fit in and enjoy the position.
Things to Omit
I would strongly suggest omitting items like lists of references, salary requirements, and school class histories from resumes. These are often the culprit for multi-page resumes and are often not necessary at this stage in the job negotiation. A resume should be the stepping stone for you to get an interview, period. Employers read piles of resumes before they make any calls and are simply trying to find the few diamonds in the rough that stick out. The interview process is where all the extra information can be given if asked for or can be explained through interview questions. Avoid using expensive and often offensive resume paper that looks like it was recovered from a Pirate’s treasure chest. Plain white is fine, brighter paper is often viewed better.
Remember that a resume is nothing more than the sheet that represents you in a much abridged and condensed form. The full version of you is to be discovered in the interview process. Try making multiple versions of resumes if you are applying for various positions in different fields. Always submit a cover letter and make each letter unique to the different job you are applying for.