Are you considering a geographical move that requires you to search for work? Do you think you’re ready for that internal promotion? Or, have you been thinking about ‘what’s out there’ in terms of new opportunities in your field? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these things, you will definitely need a new or updated resume to move forward.
Then, the panic sets in. You haven’t written your resume for 10+ years. Do you still need the same sections on your document? What do you keep and what do you eliminate from your job history? Should there be a section that outlines my technical skills? And, how and where do I include my education?
When I started writing resumes for people, I quickly discovered that I especially enjoy drawing out information that makes them shine as a job candidate. Since 2008, I have found that many people—especially women—don’t give themselves enough credit for their achievements. By writing a resume that is dynamic, descriptive, and aligned with today’s job market, I enjoy helping them feel confident as they move forward with their job search.
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer and a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and the National Resume Writers’ Association, I am up-to-date on resume techniques and know how to position candidates in the workplace. While there are many tips and ideas for writing your resume, I’m going to give you the top five tips that will help you get started with this process.
Tip #1 – Get organized.
Keep a folder, hard copy, or electronic copy with all of your past job information. If possible, maintain those job descriptions, make a list of previous employers and job titles, dates of employment, and achievements. Then, copy your college transcripts so you have the official name of your school, degree, and any major or minor.
Tip #2 – Decide if you are going to use a chronological format or a functional format.
A chronological resume is the most common and allows you to list your employment from most recent to oldest, showing the specific order of your past positions. This is perfect when you don’t have any periods without work, have remained in the same employment sector, and don’t have a lot of job changes. A functional resume shows your achievements and abilities with little emphasis on the dates. Functional resumes are appropriate when you have changed jobs often, don’t have a great deal of experience, or if you are seeking a career move to an entirely different field.
Tip #3 – Lose the objective.
If you haven’t worked on your resume for many years, you may still have an objective on the top of your resume. Let’s face it—if you are sending a resume for a potential job opportunity, your objective is simply to get an interview and then get a new job. Because the objective is self-explanatory, it is important to use this space for a career summary and something more meaningful than a useless statement. Construct a three to five line high-overview of your career experiences, skill-set, and core competencies.
Tip #4 – Be concise.
Because employers may be receiving hundreds of resumes for one potential position, you need to catch their attention immediately. There is no effective way to list everything you have done. Choose what is most important, use phrases instead of full sentences, and implement bullet points to emphasize achievements. When you feel like you may be repeating yourself, use the thesaurus and think of new ways to phrase tasks and responsibilities.
Tip #5 – Be consistent.
Use single spacing throughout each job description and double space between jobs and headings. Choose a simple font that is easy to read and use the same font throughout the document. The same is true for bullet points. If you use round bullet points in the core competencies section, then use round bullet points in all of the sections.
When you are working on this document, don’t be afraid to tell others of your success and accomplishments. Take the time to work on your resume and have a trusted friend read it and provide input—sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to identify areas for improvement. Finally, be sure that you follow the directions for the application process and research potential employers to ensure you are tailoring the information to their needs. Remember that your resume is your chance to be ‘you’ – make your information shine!
About the Author
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, founder of Feather Communications, has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and is a member of the National Resume Writers’ Association and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish has a BBA in Management, an MBA, and a PhD in Organization and Management.