Resumes – Part I

Resumes are such a critical part of the job hunting process that I will be devoting at least two issues to them. Although a resume itself does not get you a job, it can get you an interview which can get you the job.

Effective resumes “sell” you. They are, in effect, a detailed business card and summary of your accomplishments. Employees are looking for workers who can add value, cut costs, work independently and are flexible and adaptable. Your resume, therefore, must show that you have these qualities.

There are two basic types of resume: chronological and functional. Chronological resumes list your careers in reverse chronological order. They are the more popular type, and for good reason: employers want to easily see how your career has progressed. Functional resumes list your skills by type or function, and are often used if you are trying to cover gaps in your employment history. Because of this, they may be viewed suspiciously, so try to use the chronological format if possible.

Resume Basics

In general, a resume should:

  • Be printed on white or creme-colored 8 ½ x 11 paper.
  • Use basic, legible fonts, such as Time Roman or Arial.
  • Avoid wasting space by using graphics, rules, or fonts that are too large.
  • Make good use of white space.
  • Be written in clear, business-like English.
  • Include bulleted points.
  • Be a maximum of two pages.

Resume Elements

The top section of the resume is your identifier: it includes your name, address, phone numbers and email address. Include your title next to your name, for example, Joe Smith – Technical Writer.

I am against including any kind of objective on a resume. The objective should be obvious based on the rest of your resume.

The profile section is perhaps one of the most important areas of your resume, and one of the most difficult to write. It must describe you as a worker, and summarize your skills, strengths and experience. Avoid clichés like “team player” and “cost-cutter”. Be specific about what makes you unique. Remember that the profile is often the first thing potential employees will read about you, and first impressions are critical.

Here’s an example of an effective profile:

  • Five years experience creating and enhancing a wide variety of documentation including User Manuals, Online Help, Release Notes and technical reference manuals.
  • Able to work effectively with developers, quality assurance engineers and others to create clear, concise and meaningful documents from the end-user’s perspective.
  • Expert knowledge of a wide variety of applications including Word, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Visio, and WebWorks Publisher.

The next issues will discuss the remaining sections of the resume.

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