Graduations, improving economic conditions, children starting school, looking for better opportunities. These are just some of the reasons people decide to start looking for a job. Even with a college degree or years of experience, finding employment in today’s economic environment is especially challenging and requires a great deal of work. A good place to start is by developing a quality resumé. A resumé is a brief summary of your educational history, your skills, your work experience and your accomplishments. While resumés alone will not get you hired, a well written resumé can open the door for an interview with a potential employer.
Several years ago, people would send out hundreds of generic resumés hoping it would catch someone’s attention. With the creation of online employment services, many job seekers use them in the hopes that a potential employer will find a match. Employers today receive hundreds of resumés, and most experts agree that you have about ten seconds to get their attention and stand out from all the other applicants. When submitting a customized resumé, you can help get an employer’s attention with a follow-up phone call or email. A call might even give you an opportunity to gain a little extra information about the position or the company so you can better prepare for the interview.
Whether looking for your first job or your dream job, resumés create a first impression that can make or break your job hunt. Following are several tips to get you started:
Crafting a Strong Resumé
- Be brief. Remember, the purpose of your resumé is to get a job interview; once you get the interview, you can provide additional information. But don’t be too brief; a good resumé highlights your skills and abilities, not just previous job titles. Be sure you present a clear focus and professional image that matches the level of the job you are seeking.
- Include a career goal or objective statement. Your statement should be similar to a newspaper headline or a teaser for a movie preview. Use it as a way to highlight your strengths and how they are relevant to your potential employer.
- Customize. Develop a different resumé for each position. There is no “one size fits all” resumé. Tailoring your resumé for an employer will greatly increase your chances of an interview.
- Be positive. Focus on the best you have to offer them and omit any negative, irrelevant or unnecessary information. It is not necessary to list the date of your graduation or personal information such as age, weight, race or religious preferences. You don’t need to include everything. Employers are more concerned about finding someone who can do the job.
- Use action words and statistics that focus on results. Instead of writing that you were an account manager, say that you managed 150 accounts valued at $7 million or you increased sales by 15 percent in three years.
- Make it pop. Be sure your resumé has eye-appeal. That includes using easy to read typefaces, uniform and consistent styles or designs, bullet points to emphasize your assets, and absolutely no typos, grammatical errors or punctuation problems. Most experts recommend using at least an 11 or 12 point readable font in an organized format to help present a positive image.
- Omit the obvious. Avoid including trite phrases such as “available for an interview” or “references available.” If you are not available for an interview or have no references, then you shouldn’t be applying for the job.
- Protect your reputation. Be very careful about what is posted on social network sites before asking a future employer to view it. While pictures of partying or friends and family may be fun to share with people you know, it probably is not the type of information you want to share with human resource staff or your potential boss. Postings on web sites reflect your character, your values, your level of maturity and your ability to handle responsibility. So, be careful about what they say about you when looking for a job. Future employers are now using them as one more tool to screen applicants.
The type of job or career you choose can have long-term implications for you and your family. In addition to providing food, clothing and shelter, employment opportunities can impact insurance, savings, college for children, retirement and other financial issues that affect a family’s financial well-being. Taking the time to research resumé writing tips and prepare a winning resumé greatly increases your odds of finding the best way to present yourself on paper to a potential employer and increases your family’s financial security.
Next month’s topic will continue the job search theme, discussing how to make a good impression when you get your interview.
Sue Lynn Sasser, PhD, is an associate professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma.