The rJsumJ is a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview.
A. The rJsumJ is an advertisement of you and your job skills.
1. The rJsumJ asserts that if you buy this product, you will get these specific, direct benefits.
2. It presents you in the best light.
3. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career.
4. It is so pleasing to the eye that the reader is enticed to pick up and read it.
5. It stimulates interest in meeting you and learning more about you.
6. In short, it inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.
7. As one recruiter put it, “’It’s the only thing we have to paint a picture of a potential employee.’” (Chen, Anne. “The Perfect Résumé.” Grand Forks Herald).
B. On a practical level, the rJsumJ is a summary of your work life.
1. It enables you to pass the employer’s screening process (requisite educational level, number year’s experience, etc.), to give basic facts which might favorably influence the employer (companies worked for, salary levels, promotions, awards, etc.), to provide contact information (phone number, email address, fax number, mailing address), and to indicate support from other professionals (your list of references).
2. It establishes you as a professional person with high standards and excellent writing skills, based on the fact that the rJsumJ is so well done (clear, well-organized, well-written, well-designed, of the highest professional grades of printing and paper).
3. It serves as a covering piece or addition to another form of job application, as part of a grant or contract proposal, or as an accompaniment to graduate school or other application.
4. It is a formality for an employer’s personnel files.
C. Design the rJsumJ to get you the interview.
1. Use a clean, easy-to-read format.
a. Have your personal information, such as name, address, etc., on the top.
b. Use at least size 12 font for details; use larger for headings, etc.
c. Make sections easy to find.
1. Use adequate white space; the line spacing between items should be greater than the line spacing within an item.
2. You should be able to see the different sections clearly if you stand and look down at the résumé on the floor by your feet.
d. Use indentation clearly.
1. Indent each sub-section clearly from the section of which it is a part.
2. Indent turnovers, the second line of a single item in a list.
e. If you use different fonts for headings, etc., use easy-to-read fonts, such as Courier, Arial, Times New Roman.
2. Do not use gimmicks, humor, or flashy tricks.
a. Don’t use bright-colored paper or colored print.
b. Don’t add graphics or pictures.
c. The gimmicks only distract rather than make your résumé stand out.
d. One applicant sent a manager a plastic boot filled with M&Ms along with her résumé and cover letter with the comment “If I can get my foot in the door, I can convince you I’m right for the job.’” She didn’t get an interview.
e. It’s the information that’s important, so make it easy to find.
f. Humor indicates that the applicant is not a professional.
3. Research shows that your rJsumJ will be quickly scanned so that you have only 10 to 20 seconds to persuade prospective employers to read further.
a. By the time, they have read the first few lines, you have either caught their interest, or your rJsumJ has failed.
b. Thus, the top half of the rJsumJ can make or break you.
2. Address the rJsumJ to the employer’s needs.
a. Ask yourself these questions to fit the rJsumJ to the job.
i. What would make the perfect candidate for the job?
ii. What special abilities would this person have?
iii. What would set a truly exceptional candidate apart from a merely good one?
iv. What does the employer really want?
b. Do this step well.
i. If you are seeking a job in a field that you know well, you probably already know what would make a good candidate.
ii. If you are not sure, you can gather hints from the advertisement for the job.
iii. If you aren’t sure, call the employer and ask.
c. Putting yourself in the place of the person doing the hiring is the first, and most important step, in writing a rJsumJ that markets you rather than simply describes your past.
D. A great rJsumJ contains this additional information.
1. Start by naming the job that you want in the “Objective” section.
2. Have a summary of your skills.
3. List skills and accomplishments from your education or experience.
E. Essential information includes experience and education.
1. List jobs in reverse chronological order.
a. Don’t go into detail on the jobs early in your career.
b. Focus on the most recent and/or relevant jobs.
c. Decide whether the job title or the company is most impressive and list that information first.
2. Include the years at which you were employed at that job or that company.
a. Don’t include months, unless the job was held less than a year.
b. Include military service, internships, and major volunteer roles—the latter if your employment experience is weak.
3. List education in reverse chronological order.
a. Include certificates and advanced training.
b. Don’t include any details about college except major and awards, unless you are still in college or just recently graduated.
c. Include your grade point average if it is over 3.4 (employers want to hire people who demonstrate knowledge and reliability, both reflected by a high GPA).
d. List selected course work if doing so will help convince the reader of your qualifications for the targeted job.
e. If you are working on an uncompleted degree, include the degree and, in parentheses, the expect date of completion.
F. Extra information can help.
1. If the only awards received were in school, put these under the Education section.
a. If you have received awards, you need to include them.
b. Mention for what the award was given.
2. Refer to professional organizations which are relevant to the job.
3. Include a section on personal interests if you have room and the interest is related to the job.
a. Someone in aviation might mention racing model planes.
b. Someone in advertising might want to mention an interest in photography.
G. You may put “References available upon request” at the end of your rJsumJ.
1. References should be given out only in the final stages of an interview.
2. Use only education and experience references, no personal ones.
H. Do the rJsumJs with care.
1. Keep it brief—no longer than two pages.
2. Use quality paper.
3. Send originals only, never copies.
4. Make sure everything is honest and accurate.
5. Use short sentences and phrases.
6. Have no mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
a. Mistakes may make employers laugh, but they also indicate the level at which the applicant is writing.
b. They also indicate that an applicant makes mistakes, not what an employer is looking for in an employee.
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