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Ask any English student who their literature nemesis is and they’ll tell you Shakespeare. Now ask the job seeker what their nemesis is and they’ll respond, “Writing my résumé!” As with any archenemy it’s better to face the threat than remain in a state of limbo.Your success begins with a résumé that represents you and your unique skill set employers want working for them.
The beauty of facing the writing of your résumé is you don’t have to tackle it alone. In fact, if you put the words “résumé writing or résumé sample” in any search engine, you’ll find over 78 million sites at your fingertips. As problem-solving as that sounds, you can have too many choices. So I wanted to make this as simple as possible and offer some basic steps for you to follow to jump start your job search. It’s essentially your first opportunity to make an impression with a potential employer, so it’s just a tad important.
There are three types of résumés:
- Chronological (starts by listing out your work history, beginning with your most recent position first and continuing in reverse chronological order).
- Functional (focuses more on the skills you have acquired rather than a listing of positions you have held).
- Combination résumé (a hybrid of chronological and functional resumes; skill clusters with accomplishments are listed first, followed by a work history section in reverse-chronological order).
How do you know when to use which one? A general rule of thumb is:
- Chronological: if you’ve maintained steady employment with a progression in skills and professional growth.
- Functional: if you’ve held a number of dissimilar jobs and want a potential employer to focus on you wide variety of skills and achievements.
- Combination: if you want the advantages provided by both the chronological and the functional résumé.*
*WARNING: Use the combo format at your own risk. Many employers find it too long, confusing, and sometimes repetitious.You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Once you determine the format, sit down and write everything you can think of about your education, skills, employment history.
Don’t get caught up in writing the résumé yet; this is more of a free form of writing – though I would keep each category separate for ease of reading later. Now it’s time to organize it. Remember, your first draft is beyond rough. It’s downright ugly, but it’ll have all the working information you’ll need to create a beautiful piece of writing.
Back in my recruiting days, I preferred the chronological format. It presented easily accessible information in order for me to make a hiring decision, so I’ll focus on this format as I discuss a few key elements that must be in a résumé. P.S. Don’t forget to check out the links below for great info to help you generate your own powerful résumé.
Sometimes résumé writers think fancy fonts, creative boxes or even photos will “sell” them to employers, but in fact, they do the exact opposite. This is where my version of K.I.S.S. comes in (keep it straightforward stupid…no offense). Start with:
- Contact Information – your legal name, address, primary phone number and email
- Summary of Skills – pretty important since it’s the first thing a potential employer will see. Don’t be shy here. In fact, brag a bit, but be truthful. What can you do for the company? How do your skills align with the available position’s needs? Bottom line, why should he hire you?
- Education – if you’re relatively new in your career field place it immediately after your summary; if you have many years of experience it can go after…
- Employment – start with your most current job first and work your way backward. You can generally eliminate short-term (6 mos. or less) positions if they’re irrelevant to the position you’re seeking. These jobs will raise flags about why you left them so quickly (i.e. bosses will think you were fired).
- Training/Certifications – only those relevant to the position for which you’re applying; most recent first. Include the name of the training or certification and the month/year it was completed.
Arguably, the résumé is the most important element in the job search. Your success begins with a résumé that represents you and your unique skill set employers want working for them. I know I said this before, but IntelliTec’s Career Services department is the best place for you to start the employment search. Their services go beyond the basics of cover letters and résumés; they can guide you in the networking process and have many employer contacts right in town.