Chapter 6: Preparing Your Résumé
Your resume is a very formal and stylized document. The fact that an employer will probably look at your resume for only a few seconds makes every detail even more important.
Begin by carefully choosing paper that is an appropriate quality and color and planning a layout that emphasizes the headings you want noticed. Because that first glance will be a quick one, you need to be sure that your most important points will stand out immediately. Next, carefully compose the text that will fall under each heading. Create an effective objective and remember that you may need to tailor it to each job for which you apply. List your educational experiences in a brief but flattering way, and decide how best to describe your work experience using telegraphic phrases and action verbs. You also need to decide whether or not it benefits you to include a "summary of skills" heading or a section listing your activities and interests. Remember to use the standard phrase, "References available upon request" at the end of your resume and try to keep the resume to one page if you have less than ten years of work experience.
Next, experiment with several different versions of your resume, moving headings around and deciding whether a chronological or functional resume is most appropriate. A chronological resume highlights the sequence of jobs the applicant has held. The "Experience" section lists jobs in order of dates, giving the most recent positions first. Dates are emphasized, which best serves those who've made clear progress on the corporate ladder and have had few gaps in their job history.
A functional resume stresses skills, not dates. After a clear job objective at the top of the resume, the next heading listed is "skills." Three or four broad skill areas are identified, each of which relates to the objective. This type of resume is best for those who have held a variety of unrelated jobs, are switching career fields, or have gaps in their job history. If you're an experienced job hunter, you may face the additional challenge of documenting an extensive or complicated work history.
After determining which of the two types is right for you, experiment with several different layouts. Look at as many different resumes as you can, and decide what appeals to you. Note which graphic elements catch your eye and have a clean, professional look. You may want to try resume software, but be sure to carefully customize the final product. You should also create one version that is computer friendly and keyword rich for those companies that scan resumes or to post your resume online at career web sites.
Finally, revise your draft again, keeping in mind the basic resume do's and don'ts and being careful to keep your resume concise, carefully worded, free of information that might bias the employer and absolutely perfect. Show your resume to many people who you trust, including those who are employed in your field, and make further revisions based on their feedback.
In the end, bear in mind that while resume preparation can be a time-consuming task, a well-planned and well-written resume is a tool that brings with it not only confidence, but results.