The Ultimate Resume Guide
1) Write for the Future not the past
The objective of a resume is to present you in best way possible to a future job. It is not the story of life. The employer needs to know more about what you can achieve at the moment rather than how you evolved in detail. That does not mean that you should not list past jobs but don’t theme your resume in a boring chronological order. List all the achievements in your professional life at the beginning and then in brief list the previous jobs and the companies’ names.
2) List Achievements, not Tasks
Avoid listing detailed daily tasks and duties that are just part of your job description. Everybody knows that an administrative secretary takes care of filing papers and organizing appointments, but does anybody know that you are the one who introduced the “Shared Calendar” concept to announce meetings to the staff? Compare these two resumes (reception manager position):
Achievement Oriented Resume
» Reduction of customer waiting time
» Improve the quality of service using multiple feedback options
» Introduced a queuing system to handle large amount of customers
Task Oriented Resume
» Setup employees shift timings
» Make sure appointments are taken on time
» Follow up on schedule
3) Quality not Quantity
Try to make your resume as short as possible. By that we don’t mean to cut on important information. It is important for your resume to be as short as possible without skimping on the important information. A successful technique followed by many is to write a full length detailed resume and start chopping after that. After you have decided on the minimum amount of content, use software editing techniques to squeeze your resume in the least number of pages as possible without hurting clarity and organization. As rule of thumb, a resume should not be more than three pages long.
4) Use Bullets not Paragraphs
Replace all paragraphs with bullets. Bullets and listing add clarity to the resume and makes it organized. Furthermore, bullets make the resume easier to assess in the initial 10 resume screening process (where 90% of all resumes go the trash).
5) Career Title instead of Objective
If you have enough experience in your field and claim yourself an expert, it might be wiser to use a professional job title under your name instead of and objective paragraph. When you use an objective paragraph you are saying: “This is what I would like to do”. When you use a professional title, you are saying: “This is whom I am and this is what I do best”. Compare the two resumes below. Which one would you call for an interview first?
Use of Career Title:
Information Technology Manager
Use of Objective Paragraph
Looking for a position as an IT Manager in a reputed company with progress potential.
6) Use a Summary of Qualifications
The first thing that should be in your resume right after the objective section is a summary of qualifications that lists three or four reasons of why you are qualified for the job. In this section do not write about virtues and qualities like “very organized” or “excellent communication skills”, instead list accomplishments or landmarks in your career that you consider important for the job. Listed below are two examples (one good and one bad) of “Summary of Qualification” for an office manager resume. Again, which one would you call for an interview?
Example of a good summary of qualifications:
» Conversion to 100% paperless environments
» Streamlining cross department communication through shared calendars
» Cost reduction though proper use of asset management software
Example of a bad summary of qualification:
» Very organized and able to manage time effectively
» Excellent communication skills
» Dedicated and hardworking
Ideas for writing a summary of qualifications:
» Experience Duration
» Education Levels
» Past Projects
» Personality Characteristics
7) Avoid Gaps Wisely
If you have gaps in your working history, you may need to hide that wisely. There is nothing wrong in having gaps and that can be for many legitimate reasons: illness, unemployment crisis, death in family etc… People are subjective and may not be willing to understand these things or think assume you are hiding something. For all those reasons, follow the recommendations below to smartly cover these gaps without lying:
Use years not months:
For example if you quit your job in January 2007 and rejoined in December 2008 then do not phrase your work history like that:
>> April 2006 – January 2007 Job One
>> December 2008 – March 2009 Job Two
This exposes a two years gap in your career. Instead rephrase it like this:
>> 2006 – 2007 Job One
>> 2008 – 2009 Job Two
That looks much more decent and most importantly, it is true.
Reduce your working history to hide the gaps.
For example the following work history exposes a two years gap:
>> 2001 – 2002 Job One
>> 2005 – 2006 Job Two
>> 2006 – 2009 Job Three
Write off the first job; after all it is only one year and it is at the beginning of your career. Early jobs are much less important than newer ones and this particular case they will do more harm than good because the employer will be wondering what have you been doing from 2002 to 2005?
Fill gap years with important info:
If the gap is too big to be hidden and can be justified in a way that can enforce your chances then by all means list it. Example:
>> 2000-2003 Job One
>> 2004 -2007 Full Time Parent
>> 2008 – 2010 Job Two
In this case, it would be too harsh to remove the first job since it comprises of three full years. Instead, you can explicitly mention what you have been doing during that time, which is taking care of your new born baby. That tells a lot about how responsible and caring you are. It would definitely look better than this:
>> 2000-2003 Job One
>> 2008 – 2010 Job Two
Use a functional resume instead of chronological one.
If you have many gaps or one very long gap, functional resume will suit you better. Read more about Functional Resumes
8) List Promotions Clearly
If you had one promotion or more within a single company, you might want to mention that clearly in your resume. The correct way to do it is to write the company name once and list the different job title under it. Example:
2005 – 2008 Company X
Job Title One (2005 - 2006)
Job Title Two (2006 - 2007)
Job Title Three (2007 - 2008)
The wrong way to do it is:
Job Title One (2005 - 2006) Company X
Job Title Two (2006 - 2007) Company X
Job Title Three (2008 - 2009) Company X
If you write it in the second way, the employer may not pay attention to the repeated company name and will think these are three different jobs at three different companies, also they might think you are a job hopper (a person that changes job a lot)
9) List Pending Education Degrees
Do not miss a chance to credit yourself and boost your chances. If you are studying for a second major or upgrading your degree, talk about it. Example:
>> BS in Mechanical Engineering, 2007 (Harvard University)
>> MBA degree, expected graduation 2009 (Cambridge University)
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