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Quick Reference Job Search Guide
Resumes, Cover Letters, Networking, Interviewing, & Salary Negotiations
Typically, an employer views a resume for about 15-20 seconds! Consequently, your resume should be attractive, concise, easy to read, and error free.
What are your goals/targets?
How can you connect your experience to your goals?
Take an inventory of your strengths, skills, and values.
Start with experience, not education
Put the most important and relevant information at the top of your resume. After you have been in the working world for some time, education becomes less relevant and your particular experience more so. One exception may be if you are in a graduate program relevant to your career.
Utilize a Professional Summary
As an undergraduate you may have utilized an objective statement on your resume. Once you have gained significant experience in your industry/field, however, a summary statement may be a better way to highlight key skills and strengths. A professional summary allows you to pick out the most salient information from your resume that is quantifiable and specific-skill driven. Summary statements may be adjusted to correlate with the particular job description you are applying for (e.g., include industry "buzz words" and particular organization needs).
Your personal summary should present you clearly and succinctly. Include information such as your profession, areas of expertise, types of organizations/environments you have worked in, and unique skills.
Example of a Professional Summary:
Higher Education administrator with more than eight years in the field.
Extensive experience programming, planning, and implementing strategic goals.
Volunteer management expertise and supervisory skills.
Professional association annual conference planning experience.
Increased student appointments by 25 percent over a two-year period.
Accomplishments & Responsibilities
Your resume should be specific, concise, and measurable wherever possible. Instead of generally describing your position, discuss what you have accomplished while in that position. Quantify information (e.g., number of people managed, number of dollars saved, percentage increases). Utilize strong action statements to begin your descriptions (e.g., use words like aided, implemented, adapted, planned, integrated, led, developed, presented, designed). Make sure you customize your resume to the position for which description you’re applying. In other words, emphasize what the employer is seeking by making small changes to your resume that may have a large impact.
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
XYZ Company, Philadelphia, PA (March 1999-present)
Met with doctors in both private practice and hospital settings to promote the awareness of gastrointestinal drug innovations.
Covered three states and more than 110 clients.
Increased sales revenues by 20 percent within first year.
Awarded citation for excellence in customer service (2001).
Aided in the implementation of new software for sales representatives to track effectiveness and provide more extensive pharmaceutical background.
Extremely familiar with FDA approval methodology and regulations.
Founded monthly networking group for new sales representatives to share information and learn from experienced company leaders.
If you are to include outside activities on your resume, make them relevant in some way to your professional development or skill set. Hobbies that are not specific simply waste space on your resume that could be better used for discussing accomplishments. Examples of potentially relevant activities may include: your alma mater’s alumni association involvement, and volunteer work for non-profit, philanthropic, community, government, or other organizations.
Professional Associations & Trainings
Include any professional associations you are a part of and any leadership roles or involvement in those associations. For example, did you help plan a conference, serve on a board, co-chair a committee? Also include any relevant training you may have undergone within and outside your company. Languages, licenses, certifications, military experience, publications, and/or technical skills also should be listed.
Length and Format
Traditionally, an undergraduate resume is one page in length. As you gain experience, however, that may change. The rule of thumb is if you have five or more years of experience a two-page resume is probably necessary. Unless you are writing a curriculum vita, resumes should be no more than two pages. If you do have a second page, make sure you use the entire page. Utilize your formatting to display information on either one or two pages so it is easily readable and the most salient information tops the first page. Additionally, make sure your name is on the second page in case the pages become separated.
Make sure your resume is easily readable. Utilize bold, italics, and/or underline features to emphasize aspects of your resume. Do not, however, go overboard with formatting techniques! Stick to traditional fonts, bullet dense areas of information, and/or increase your page margin to 0.5 inches to optimize page space.
Stay away from "template" formats! Your resume will resemble other resumes in the pile! Templates also force you to format your resume in a way that may not be conducive to your needs. Utilize caution if using a professional resume service. The very process of creating and updating your resume is an exercise in self-assessment that is key to the job search and interviewing. Being very familiar with your accomplishments, skills, and areas of expertise are crucial. Who knows you better than yourself?
Do not list references. References should be listed on a separate sheet and provided at the request of the company. Do not include "References available upon request" as this is assumed.
Do not use personal pronouns. Your resume is a first person document and should not include I, me, or my.
Functional vs. Chronological format
Traditionally, resumes are organized in reverse chronological order with accomplishments corresponding with employer information.
Functional resumes organize your accomplishments by skill area (i.e., management experience, communications experience, technical expertise). They are typically used in career transitions to emphasize transferable skills. Employer information also is included in a functional resume after the skill areas and accomplishments are enumerated. As with all resumes, bulk the most important information toward the top of the resume when choosing a functional format.
For additional information and examples go to:
About.com Career Planning: Resume Writing >>
Quintessential Careers: Should You Consider a Functional Format for Your Resume? >>
The Curriculum Vitae (C.V)
Typically a C.V. is used for academic, international, research, scientific or educational arenas and/or for scholarship/fellowship applications. It is usually longer than a resume (the standard two page limit may be exceeded) and it is also more detailed. While some of the same resume writing techniques and tips are very much applicable, also be sure to include the following on a C.V.:
Honors, scholarships, awards
Professional association memberships
Related work experience
Professional development (conferences, workshops, etc)
Lab, language or technical skills
As with writing resumes, you may have different versions depending on what you are applying for. Be sure to be organized and clear in your descriptions and utilize section headers to aid the reader. Objective and summary sections are also appropriate if they are deemed necessary. References are on a separate page.
Applying for positions internationally can be a bit tricky. Be sure to research the country you are applying within to find out what information they would like included in the C.V. It may differ from that of the U.S.
By Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Many companies, especially high-tech companies, use databases to quickly and efficiently match job openings with qualified job-seekers. Searches are done using keywords and phrases that describe the skills and education required for the position, thus when writing a text resume it is extremely important to use terms and familiar industry acronyms/jargon that describe your skills and experience.
Use one of the standard serif or sans serif typeface such as Courier, Times, Helvetica, Futura, Arial, Optima, Palatino, Univers. Avoid using decorative fonts.
Use a normal type size, usually in the range of 11 to 14 points.
Maximum number of characters per line is 65 (partly dependent on type size).
Avoid graphics or shading.
Keep formatting simple. Use all caps for major headings, but avoid using bolding, italicizing, and underlining.
Do not use bullets or lines.
Left justify text.
If your resume is more than one page, place your name at the top of each additional page.
Print your resume on a high quality laser printer or inkjet. Do not use a dot matrix or low quality printer.
Use only white or a very pale color paper – in standard letter size (8 1/2 x 11 inches).
Always send original copies.
Mail or deliver your resume in a flat envelope or by fax. Do not staple multiple page resumes.
Include your major and minor, as well as your college degree(s).
Include key skills and certifications, using industry standards to identify each.
Use industry or job-specific keywords that employers might use to find candidates for the job you are seeking.
While action verbs are still important, you need to add key phrases and nouns that could be used as search terms by your potential employer. Examples of phrases include "under budget," "surpassed goals," and "successfully developed." Examples of nouns include "HTML programming," "results oriented," "professional selling," "account manager," "marketing research," "strategic planning," and "certified public accountant (CPA)."
After your objective, you might consider adding a "summary of accomplishments" section that focuses on results you achieved in your field rather than specific duties and responsibilities. A "Key Skills" section is also an option. The idea behind this section is to allow you to use more of the words, phrases, and jargon that resumes may be searched with by the potential employer.
Use common abbreviations (such as B.S. for a bachelor of science degree) and maximize use of industry jargon (such as CAD for computer-assisted design), but when in doubt it is best to use both abbreviations and write it out.
©Copyright by Quintessential Careers. The original article can be found at www.quintcareers.com
. Reprinted with permission.