by Pam Folger, Director of Millikin’s Career Center
What would you do if the person who had the power to hire you for your dream job asked for a copy of your resume? Would you be resume-ready? If not, it’s time to think about updating.
In today’s uncertain economy, it is even more important to keep your resume up-to-date. You never know when you might need it at a moment’s notice.
Understand the mind-set
• A resume is a living document and should be updated on a regular basis.
• Develop multiple versions of your resume focused on specific industries of interest to you.
• Your resume must be targeted for each position. Look at a position posting and identify what skills, qualifications and traits are most important in the ideal job candidate. Tweak your resume to focus on these.
• Each piece of information takes up valuable real estate on your resume. Be sure that what you list is worth the space and location. The earlier you list an item, the greater it is considered in importance and relevance.
A potential employer will read your resume for a few seconds, so information has to “pop.” Formatting is very important, but content that is relevant, compelling and powerful is a must.
Format your resume
• Bold all headings and place them in order of their importance, as determined by the position description. Keep them to the left instead of centered. Since the eye reads left to right, this will allow them to be instantly identified by your busy potential employer.
• Be consistent. For instance, if you abbreviate the state in your address in the heading of your resume, then follow suit throughout it.
• Use a professional, modern font such as Arial, and keep your font size within a 10-12 point range. Your name may be in a larger size of font, such as 14-20.
• Use a line under your heading section, so the readers’ eyes are drawn to the content of your resume first. They can look at your name later if the resume has enticed them.
• Keep your resume to an appropriate length. A new college graduate should have a one-page resume. As you gain career experience, it will need to go to two or more pages. Be sure to include your name and the page number in the upper right-hand corner of each page after the first.
Add powerful content
• Be concise.
• Use keywords (determined by looking at the position description).
• Don’t use personal pronouns.
• Consider whether or not you need an objective. You need to state an objective when you’re sending your resume and you aren’t sure if there is an opening. In this instance, it indicates what position you are seeking. You may also opt to include an objective if your resume doens’t fill the page. The objective must be specific, concise and well-worded.
• Develop a professional profile or summary of qualifications section to best highlight your career brand. These should be bullet-pointed power statements that relate your accomplishments and skills to the position and may vary depending on the position.
• Use bullet points under each job to describe your accomplishments.
• Don’t list something on your resume that you don’t want to discuss. If it’s on your resume, then it’s fair game for the interviewer.
• Consider dividing out your “career-related experience” from “additional experience.” There is no need to use bullet points for additional experience if you don’t have room to do so.
• Know your industry and what the expectation might be for resume content and format.
• An international resume is different. Resumes in other countries typically include personal information not considered appropriate in the United States. If you are writing a resume to be sent to a potential employer in another country, your resume style will vary depending on the country. Some resources for writing an international resume include www.transitionsabroad.com and www.jobweb.org.
• Don’t let someone else write your resume. No one else is going to understand your skills, abilities and experiences well enough to do your resume justice. However, do have someone review it once you’re done. It’s very easy to miss typos and other inconsistencies in your own work. Seek feedback from someone in your career industry.
• Never underestimate the value of an excellent, well-developed resume. While networking may be the most effective way to find a job, an excellent resume is still a must. The old adage of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is only true to some extent. The skills and abilities to back it up, as listed on your resume, are a must.
Once you’ve updated your resume, you should feel excited to see all of your accomplishments listed on paper. Next, channel that sense of excitement into your job search and interview, and you’ll be well on your way to landing a new position – perhaps even the special job of your dreams.
Pam Folger, director of Millikin’s Career Center, has more than 23 years experience in career and employment services, more than 11 of them at MU.
Learn about the Career Center at www.millikin.edu/career.