Looking for work can be difficult in the best of times…
These are not the best of times. Advice about resume writing
abounds and experts offer astoundingly different opinions. How is a
job seeker to know which advice to follow? The bottom line: No one
way is the right way for everyone.
For the job seeker, it is best to read as much as you can
about how to write a resume and how to job search. If you are
looking for work you might want to check out my job search column
Sort through the information and think about it in terms of your
particular situation. Some things to consider include your
strengths and weaknesses as a job candidate. Think about
Type of employment you are seeking
Your resume should emphasize your strengths and minimize your
weaknesses. A job seeker should ALWAYS seek a second opinion (or a
third or fourth). If possible, seek out the assistance of an expert
– this is money well spent and a good resume writer can be
invaluable in helping you to stand out to employers who might not
otherwise consider you.
Whether or not you seek the advice of a professional, some key
areas to consider follow. It is important that you give these
resume sections the deliberation they need to present your
qualifications in the best possible light.
Objective vs Profile
There is a lot of debate about which is the correct approach.
Some experts tout the Objective as the way to go to be considered
seriously by an employer as it commits you to a specific path that
is [hopefully] in line with what they are looking for. Others
recommend a strong Profile or Summary Statement outlining the best
of what you have to offer and, essentially spoonfeeding the
employer every good thing about you.
However, neither is going to be right or wrong in every case.
The trick is to examine YOUR qualifications and how to present them
to an employer in a way that will make you seem a good candidate
for the opening the employer has. A job seeker may use an objective
to apply for one job and a profile in another instance. There is no
black and white in resume writing.
Functional vs Chronological
The chronological resume is the traditional format that most are
accustomed to: Work History is detailed in order of date, usually
most recent first, with duties outlined either in bullet or
paragraph format beneath.
A functional resume is more modern in approach and emphasizes
skills over work history. The Skills or Qualifications sections are
often split into several subsections. This can make it easier for
employers to scan your qualifications to quickly see if you might
have the skills they are looking for.
Reported estimates are that employers take 30 or even as little as
10 seconds to screen resumes. For this reason, a functional resume
is most often the format to use to apply online or secure the first
interview. A more detailed, chronological resume can be presented
in a first or second interview if appropriate.
Subheadings with meaningful titles should be used to allow the
employer to quickly scan a resume to see that you may have what
they are looking for. Use no more than three or four, otherwise the
purpose may be defeated.
Group your skills from all of your jobs, past and present, under
these subheadings. Use current voice – just because you are
not working at a job currently doesn’t mean you don’t
posess this skill! Likewise, include skills from unpaid positions
as well as paid.
Again, include paid and unpaid positions – give yourself
credit for everything you know and can do. If you don’t, no
one else ill. If you don’t have a skill or experience
required for a position you would like to pursue then volunteer or
intern to aquire the missing attribute.
Be forward thinking about your resume and your career. Most people
don’t work for the same employer for 30 years and retire with
a gold watch these days. Plan now for your next job change if you
are working. If you are looking for any job in the storm now, be
mindful to plan beyond that next job.
Depending on your age and background, you may choose not to include
an Education section or to omit years if you are a mature worker.
Or you may choose to list certificates and other training pertinent
to the job you are applying for. Employers may assume you have a
college degree based on your background unless you list High School
Diploma in this section, for example.
If you have studied a topic or area of interest through the
internet, or books and articles read then find a way to include
them in this section. Be creative in terms of your presentation and
in getting credit for what you do know or can do.
Only give references when asked. This way you can give
who will be helpful to making you look good for the particluar
job you are applying for
a call to prepare them to look for an unknown number
some pointers on what kinds of attributes you have that they can
There are, of course, so many other things to consider when
writing a resume, for example:
Balance and Centering
But, thinking about the sections included above should get you
started in the write direction. Just remember any resume is a work
in progress and should be examined and tweaked regularly in general
and in considering specific jobs or employers in particular. In
short, a resume is always a work in progress… Good