Writing a resume is just the beginning of the job hunt adventure. Your resume is the first impression that employers have of you, and you want to make a great first impression. Here are some tips that should help translate your best skills and qualities to paper.
Watch Your Language!
The words you choose to use on your resume are your strongest asset. Not only will the right words make you seem professional, but the resume itself serves as a sample of your writing ability. You want to use strong action words, and make sure not to overuse the same ones! Managing, monitoring, overseeing, directing, controlling, producing, are all powerful words that describe an act. Writing “responsible for invoices,” is less effective than writing “processes client invoices.” The latter provides the employer with a better idea of the task, and sounds more enthusiastic.
Resumes With Style
There are several models you can follow when creating a resume. You can use the chronological model, listing the jobs you’ve had starting with the most current. This tends to be the most popular among job applicants with a steady work history. If you’ve been a member of the workforce for a long time, you may want to copy this model, but be careful! Listing too many jobs may make you look like you don’t stay in one place for too long. Usually, listing the two most recent positions you held are enough to get your point across.
If you have gaps in your work profile, it is probably best to not use the chronological method. Instead, you may want to consider listing your skills, along with examples. For instance, instead of writing “Familiar with social media channels,” you can write something like “Utilize Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and increased followers by 10% over a 2-month period.” This not only showcases your skills, but illustrates how your skills get results. It helps to be specific!
No Experience? No Problem!
“Your resume is about your future, it’s not about your past,” says Susan Ireland, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume.1 Writing a resume is not just about describing what you have done, but what you can do. If you are just getting out of high school or college and feel that you haven’t held down a “real” job, you can still write a resume. Going to school, whether high school or college, is a full-time job! Describe the classes you took, and what you learned in those classes. Listing the grade you earned in that class (if it’s high) will also show employers that you are a hard worker who sees through projects and gets them done well. This is also a great time to focus on your extracurricular activities or volunteering experience. Employers not only look for skills in potential employees, but also leadership qualities.
Keep It Real
If you are looking to enter a particular area of work, but feel that you don’t have the qualifications or experience, you can cater your resume to a specific job description by pinpointing key words in the description, and use them in your resume. You will want to make sure that your resume matches the description of the job you are applying for. That is not to say you should make stuff up, or exaggerate, but you need to examine your current skills and abilities from every possible perspective. For instance, if you are looking to launch a career in social work, and have worked at a fast food restaurant for a few months, you will want to emphasize your customer service skills, since both industries involve working with people. Or, if you want a career in computer science, you will want to emphasize your efficiency with time management and operating equipment. You want to make sure that you are opening a door to new opportunities, instead of moving on to a job that is similar to the one you are leaving behind.
For great types on formatting a winning resume, click here
1. Korkki, P. “Writing a resume that shouts ‘hire me!’” The New York Times. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/jobs/28search.html?_r=0. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Author: Liz Haberkorn attended undergraduate school in upstate New York, 20 minutes from the Canadian border. She moved down to DC after graduating and now works as an editor/production specialist at a non profit for physical therapy. She also holds a master’s degree in electronic publishing from George Washington University. Liz Haberkorn lives with 3 borderline obese felines. When she’s not being bullied by cats, she enjoys reading, drinking lattes, and filling out questionnaires like this one.