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Crafting A Resume: Tips to Get You Noticed

2:57 AM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
(AP)
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Resume Recommendations: The following details are recommendations on developing a resume, but are not "absolutes". Every job is different; every employer is different; every job seeker and work history is different. Therefore, there is no "perfect formula" to writing a resume. It's all interpretational, and job seekers have to determine the best fit for them.

Tailor it to the employer/job - Generic resumes are OK to have, but they don't always represent you in the best way to an employer. Take the time to research the employer, the job, and the job description/ad that you're applying to. Use details that you learn and compare them to your skills and abilities. All of this will help you decide how to flush out your resume and determine what you do and don't want to use. You can even incorporate key words that you identify in the job description/ad into your resume to make details stand out for the employer to see!

Proof your grammar and spelling - Proof read!!! If you don't care to take the time to read over what you wrote and send it to an employer - and it is full of errors - the employer may decide not to take the time to read it either. If you're not the best in this area, have someone else take a look at your resume. FYI - spell checkers DO NOT catch everything. You may know the difference between their, there and they're OR two, to and too, but a spell checker doesn't. Also, step away for a little bit. When you're constantly working on something, you can get bogged down in the details. If you step away from your work for a breather and come back at a later time, you may find mistakes you didn't previously catch or you may think of things you forgot to include or you may decide what you've created doesn't work and you need to rebuild!

Using present tense or past tense & power verbs - Simply put, if you're currently working somewhere and you include the detail about that job on your resume, use present active tense for verbs. For jobs that you worked in the past, use verbs in past tense. For example: "Assemble and test components on assembly line" vs "Assembled and tested components on assembly line". As for your power verbs, use words that say a lot. If you "made" something, why not say "created" or "produced". For folks who may not be "wordies", a thesaurus can be really helpful. There are also available lists (many online) of good power verbs. This can help you keep from using the same verb over and over again.

Formatting your resume - Keep it simple. Resumes are not just handed to employers these days. They're sent by email, uploaded into websites, scanned and faxed, etc. When choosing a font, go generic with something like Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri. These are fairly common font types for most typing programs.

The reason to keep it simple is because the programs or emails, etc., that you're sending your information to may not understand one of the fun texts you can select to use in your typing program, and you can end up with documents that transfer over with weird symbols in them, or worse, send blank documents. Also, don't shrink your font or page margins too much. General rule of thumb - no smaller than font size 10 (no larger than 12) and no smaller margin size than .5 inches (no larger than the default of the typing program).

It's not "formatting", but personal taste plays a part. We all like to put ourselves into our works, but if your favorite color is pink and your favorite scent is rose, it doesn't necessarily mean that your resume paper needs to be pink and small like roses. If a paper in color is copied on a copier or faxed, it doesn't show up in that color (unless the machine has a color print function) and turns dark. And smells... Well, you never know if someone has an allergy or if a scent can conjure up a bad memory for someone. Go with a white/off-white color and no scent.

Keep it to one page - employers only have so much time to get through a stack of resumes, and sometimes that stack is huge! Focus on important details and include them on the resume. During the interview, you can elaborate more using the details that you may not have included on your resume. It doesn't hurt to have a little extra information to share later on as conversation starters or additions! Use bullet points instead of paragraphs, too. Seeing lots of text on a page can overload the visual system, and you don't want to turn off the employer with 'word overload'. The goal of your resume is to sell you to the employer so you can get an interview with them, so tell them what they need to know.

Template or no template? - Templates are handy if you're trying to get an idea on formulating a design your resume or if it's your first time creating a resume or if you're just not a creative person. Templates are not a bad thing; however, think about how many other people are using the same template as you and may be applying to the same job as you. That's a lot of the same thing for an employer to see. You want to stand out from the crowd, so put in a little extra time and effort to come up with a design for your resume that suits the material you're presenting and reflects a little of you.

Don't pay for your resume. There are tons of free resources out there to use - the internet, local libraries and educational centers, as well as your local workforce center. The Midlands SC Works centers, in fact, provide workshops on resume building and have case managers in programs that can help you with writing your resume.

"Do I" or "Don't I" use References and an Objective on my resume? - For references, no. Put those on a separate sheet. If you put them on your resume, you're using up valuable real estate that you need for the actual resume details. Not only that, but unless it's specified by an employer or application, you don't necessarily have to give references when you're first applying to a job. It is handy to have them available though, just in case.

When considering whether or not to use an Objective statement (this is commonly recognized as the "blurb" at the top of someone's resume after they list their name and contact details, and before they get into the meat of the resume), this is another situation where you want to decide if it's worth sacrificing the space. Simply writing "Seeking employment as a ____ at your company" isn't enough - that's better suited for a cover letter. Beef up the details that you're going to present by adding in things like the overall amount of experience you have with a field of work or a boiled-down statement of the skills you possess that make you a stand-out candidate. It doesn't have to be super long but needs to say more than the obvious. Switch your thinking from writing an "Objective" to writing a "Summary".

"What kinds of things can I include in my resume?" - Depending on the style of resume you choose to go with, there are all sorts of choices for things use. Many times, aside from completing an application, resumes are a first introduction, your "sales pitch" per say, to an employer. The elements you put into it will be decided on what you want the employer to know.

Name and contact information are a given - first and last name, phone number, mailing address, and email. (Side note: If you don't have an email, get one. They're free and many employers contact applicants via email, plus online applications will likely ask you to have one. Don't rely on someone else's email either - employers want to be contacting you, not your friend, significant other or child. 

Make sure it's professional. The email you had when you were 13 years old probably isn't something you want to share with a potential employer.) Things to consider: professional summary, employment history, educational history, training and/or certifications, honors and accomplishments, volunteer work (yes, volunteer work is still work), etc.

Cover Letters - Some people forget that a cover letter can be a beneficial part of your arsenal when applying to jobs. Sure, it's true that some employers don't use them to decide who they want to consider for a job, or may not even read them, but a cover letter is a good opportunity to show a little of your personality and explain some things that are seen on your resume.

Think of your resume as a list - it's a bulleted list (maybe with a spare few paragraph-type statements) of your skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. A list doesn't have a whole lot of personality; a cover letter can help make up for that. It can show your strengths in writing, your professional presentation, your ability to put together a cohesive document, and more. You can even use your resume to explain possible gaps in your employment. For example, If you were out of work for 5 years, and it shows on your resume, then use your cover letter to explain the reason for that gap, but only if you're comfortable doing so. You may have been a stay-at-home parent or went back to school during that time period.

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