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How To Write a Good Resume

It is important to have a well-written, informative but concise resume to be able to compete for the most wanted jobs. Refresh your resume often to keep it current and add key words that parallel a specific job you are applying for.

A good resume follows these guidelines:

  • Make sure you meet the qualifications of the job you are applying for
  • List your current job. If you omit it, an employer may think you are unemployed and that can create a red flag. You do not want big employment gaps.
  • Be honest. Do not lie on a resume. You can be fired if you lie on a resume and it can affect future employment. It is illegal to use or claim to hold a post-secondary degree you know to be fraudulent, substandard, or fictitious in order to obtain employment.
  • Add a headline or profile. Create a brief headline or profile to grab the attention of the person reviewing your resume. Make sure it focuses on what you can offer the employer, not what you are expecting from the job.
  • Customize your resume for the job you are applying for by using the title and description of the job in your resume. Repeat the description the employer has on the listing so that the words will be picked up in a scan and sent to the employer. Mirror the job description.
  • Use keywords and use them carefully within the body of the resume. Hiring managers look through many resumes so they look for skills, abilities, credentials, and qualities.
  • Keep your resume clean, simple, and easy to read
  • A two-page resume has now been proven to be more accepted than a one-page resume if it is easily read and can be skimmed easily for important information. Precise and concise is the key. Do not create a three-page resume.
  • Use a basic font, Calibri, Cambria, Garamond, Georgia, Helvetica, Arial, Book Antiqua, Times New Roman.
  • Use bullets. Employers like a chronological resume to be able to view your accomplishments briefly. Being too wordy will lose the employer’s interest. The most desired is a Basic Chronological format. There are other formats often submitted. Functional formats are wordy and use adjective-driven sentences often causing HR workers to stop reading them. These are the least desired. There is a combination of Chronological and Functional format and then Targeted formats.
  • Focus on your accomplishments to show a history of dependable employment
  • It is not necessary to put the dates of employment on a resume and don’t include your birth date or graduation date.
  • Include your most relevant skills by adding a Skills section
  • Use numbers in places instead of words; example: use 60% instead of sixty percent.
  • List all jobs and dates employed. You do not have to list the reason you left a job nor should you on a resume. You may be asked during an interview why you have short-duration jobs. If you worked at temporary jobs, do not list the company you worked for but list the recruitment agency you worked with to get those jobs since that was your employer.
  • If you were self-employed, list that on your resume. Give yourself a job title that reflects your freelance work. Add a company name if you had one and provide a summary of the services you offered. Use bullet points to highlight noteworthy projects or clients. This goes for seasonal work also. List it, list your skills and create a summary of the job. Keep it short but precise.
  • Recruiters look for qualifying titles. If you have them, list them such as consultant, project manager, business analyst, administrative assistant, customer service manager, strategy manager, software engineer, financial analyst, etc.
  • For each position list the job title, name of the company, city/county/state, description of your job responsibilities, your achievements, and accomplishments.
  • Remove non-essential information, no personal life, hobbies, or family. Remember, the resume is a professional document, not personal.
  • Remove old jobs. Only list the last 10-15 years of your work history. An application with the company may ask for your work history but your resume is a synopsis of your employment history only.
  • Add information if your work history does not include many paid full-time jobs. If your work experience qualifies you for the job, add internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work if it applies to the job you are applying for.
  • Move any Education accomplishments to the bottom. You want to focus on your work experience at the top of your resume. Do not include high school information of GPA it you graduated a while ago. Do not lie about your education. Some employers will check your education history and check with the college or graduate school to make sure you attended and graduated.
  • Make sure you review your resume for spelling and correct grammar. Spelling errors or misuse of grammar will immediately be noticed and not be in your favor. Have another person review your resume carefully to ensure you have not overlooked a spelling error or grammar error.
  • Give your resume a recognizable name so that the file name identifies you. Never call your resume “Resume.pdf.” Always use your name in the file name. Example: Firstname_Lastname_Resume.PDF identifies you to the employer and makes your resume easier to find among other resumes.
  • Save your resume as a PDF to save the formatting you have created on the document. Unless the employer requests a specific file format, only send a PDF so the reader views the document as you created it.
  • Add a cover letter. Even if one is not required, it is a good way to highlight your specific qualifications you have for the job. Your cover letter allows you to focus on the experience that best suits you for the job.
  • If possible, use a referral to get your resume to the employer you wish to apply to. If you know someone in the company you are applying to, write them a letter (do not call) and ask if they would give you a referral. If you do not know anyone within the company but know a client or a vendor who does business with them, write them (do not call) and ask if they would give you a referral. You can check Linked In for the company you are interested in and look at the contacts to see who may be able to assist. You can also check with a college career office to see if they can provide an alumnus who works at the company you’re interested in. But the best type of referral is from an employee at the company.
  • Update your resume often. Keep it current and revise it at least once a year.

Do not:

  • Do not apply for a job you are not qualified for
  • Do not provide irrelevant personal information
  • Do not bury important information
  • Do not have spelling or grammatical errors!
  • Do not have missing contact information
  • Do not leave off important information.
  • Do not use an unprofessional email address. Create a domain or a free gmail email address that uses your name.
  • Do not include outdated or irrelevant information
  • Do not use annoying buzzwords or obvious keyword stuffing
  • Do not have unexplained gaps in employment
  • Do not highlight duties, only accomplishments
  • Do not go into unnecessary detail or be too wordy but also do not cut things too short where it appears you do not have enough to supply an employer

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