Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Persuasive Résumé

A résumé is not just a list of your qualifications. It packages your assets into a convincing advertisement that sells you for a specific job. The goal of a persuasive résumé is winning an interview. Even if you are not in the job market at this moment, preparing a résumé now has advantages. Having a current résumé makes you look well organized and professional in case unexpected employment opportunities arise. Moreover, preparing a résumé early helps you recognize weaknesses and might give you two or three years to update your credentials.

Basic Parts of a Résumé

Main Heading
Your résumé should always begin with your name, address, and telephone number.
Including an e-mail address suggests that you are computer savvy.
Keep the main heading as simple as possible.
If possible, include a number where messages may be left for you.
Prospective employers tend to call the next applicant when no one answers.
Avoid showing both permanent and temporary addresses; some specialists say that dual addresses immediately identify about-to-graduate applicants.
Don't include the word Résumé; it's like putting the word "letter" above a correspondence.

Career Objective
Objectives make the recruiter's life easier by quickly classifying the résumé.
Such declaration can also disqualify a candidate if the stated objective doesn't match the company's job description.
You have three choices regarding career objectives:
1. Objectives intended for a specific targeted position. For example, the following responds to an advertised position:
            Objective: To work in the health care industry as a human resources trainee with                              exposure to recruiting, training, and benefit administration.
            2. An objective that involves using a general statement for many prospective jobs.
            Objective: Challenging position in urban planning/ A position in sales and marketing.
            3. If you are preparing an all-purpose resume, to omit the career objective is possible.

***Some consultants warn against using the words entry-level in your objective. This means you lack experience.***

You should include the names and location of schools, dates of attendance, major fields of study, and degrees received.
Your grade-point average and/or class ranking are important to prospective employers.
A list of completed courses makes the resume dull; refer to courses only if they can relate to the position sought.
When relevant, include certificates earned, seminars attended, and workshops completed. If your education is incomplete, include statements as, completed 80 units in 120-unit program.
This section can be named Education, Academic Preparation, or Professional Training.

Work Experience
If your work experience is significant and relevant to the position sought, this information should appear before education.
List your most recent employment first and work backwards, including only those jobs that you think will help you win the targeted position.
Show the following for each position;
·                     employer's name, city, and state
·                     dates of employment, including month and year
·                     most important job title
·                     significant duties, activities, accomplishments, and promotions

***be aware though, that time gaps in your employment history will probably be questioned in the interview***

Describe your employment achievements concisely but concretely.
           Avoid generalities such as "Worked with customers."
           Be more specific with statements such as;
                       Served 40 or more retail customers a day
                       Successfully resolved problems about customs stationery orders
                       Acted as intermediary among customers, printers, and suppliers

Number matters! If possible, quantify your accomplishments, such as;
           Conducted study of equipment needs of 100 small businesses in Phoenix
           Personally generated orders for sales of $90,000 annually
           Encoded all the production models for a 250-page employee procedures manual
           Assisted editor in layout, design, and news writing for 12 issues of division newsletter                                  

In addition to technical skills, employers seek individuals with communication, management, and interpersonal capabilities. This means you'll want to select work experiences and achievements that illustrate your initiative, dependability, responsibility, resourcefulness, and leadership.

Employers also want people who can work together in teams. Thus, include statements such as;
           Collaborated with interdepartmental team in developing 10-page handbook for temporary workers
           Headed student government team that conducted most successful voter registration in campus history
Capabilities and Skills
Recruiters want to know specifically what you can do for their companies. Therefore, list your special skills, such as Proficient in preparing correspondence and reports using WordPerfect.
Include your ability to use computer programs, office equipment, foreign languages, or sign language.
Describe proficiencies you have acquired through training and experience, such as; Trained in computer accounting, including general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll.

Use expressions like
competent in              skilled in          proficient with           experienced in             ability to

Competent in typing, editing and proofreading reports, tables, letters, memos, manuscript, and business forms.

If you are current with today's technology, you might say, "Experienced in Internet navigation, including the World Wide Web search skills.

***Be sure to incorporate nouns such as those used in the job description for the position you want.***

You'll also want to highlight exceptional aptitudes, such as working well under stress and learning computer programs quickly. If possible, provide details and evidence that back up your assertions. For example, Mastered the Barrister computer program in 25 hours with little instruction.
Search for examples of your writing, speaking, management, organizational, and interpersonal skills--particularly those talents that are relevant to your targeted job.

For recent graduates, this section can be used to give recruiters evidence of your potential.
This part can be called Skills and Abilities, Highlights of Skills, or Skills Summary

Awards, Honors, and Activities
If you have three or more awards or honors, highlight them by listing them under separate heading. If not, put them with activities.
Include awards, scholarships, fellowship, honors, recognition, commendations, and certificates.
Be sure to identify items clearly. Your reader may be unfamiliar with what you mean, so give details.
Unclear: Recipient of Star award
Clear: Recipient of Star award given by the university to outstanding graduates       who combine academic excellence and extracurricular achievement.

It is also appropriate to include school, community, and professional activities. Employers are interested in evidence that you are a well-rounded person. This section provides an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and interpersonal skills. Try to use action statements.
Dull: Treasurer of business class
Strong: Collected dues, kept financial records, and paid bills while serving as treasurer of 35-member business management club.

Personal Data
The trend in resume today is to omit personal data such as birth date, marital status, height, weight, nationality, or religious affiliation. Such information doesn't relate to genuine occupational qualifications, and recruiters are legally barred from asking for such information.
Some people include hobbies or interests that might grab attention or serve as conversation starters for interviews. Be careful, though, not to include dangerous pastimes or time-consuming interests. Rather, try to indicate your willingness to travel or relocate, since many companies will be interested.

***However, when applying abroad, this section is highly advised since certain jobs require specific physical and personal qualifications.***

Other Qualifications
Include all considerable experience, awards, special talents that can't be classified under any other parts of the resume. Examples of information to be included can be; license or certificates, awards outside of school and employment, and club memberships/organizational positions in school and community.
You can name this section Summary of Qualifications, Other Qualifications or Activities.

Many experts don't agree on including references on your résumé. They believe this section takes valuable space, and it is not normally instrumental in securing interviews. Instead, they prefer that a candidate bring to the interview a separate list of individuals willing to discuss about the applicant's qualifications.
Include the title of the person (Professor, Dr., and Mrs.)
List their complete addresses with zip codes and telephone numbers with area codes.
Never include personal or character references like your friends or neighbors because employers rarely consult them. Companies are more interested in the opinions of objective individuals.

***Contrary to common practice, experts see little reason for including the statement "References Provided Upon Request" at the end of the page.***
Additional Note:

· Avoid small print and unusual typefaces. Because touching letters or unusual fonts are likely to be misread, use familiar fonts. The commonly used fonts are Helvetica or Times New Roman. Type fonts should be at least 12 points.
· Avoid graphics and vertical lines. Online résumé scanners can hardly identify the emphasis brought by arrows and vertical lines. Most can read asterisks, bullets, and bold type. Italics and underlining are also acceptable but not widely advised.
· Use smooth white paper, black ink, and quality printing. Avoid colored and textured papers as well as dot matrix printings. Use white, off-white, or buff (shiny) colored heavy paper.
· Be sure that your name occupies the first line of the page. Don't use fancy layouts that may be more attractive than your data.
· Provide white space. To ensure separation of words and categories, leave plenty of white space.
· Emphasize keywords. Keywords are usually nouns that describe what an employer wants. It also features nouns and phrases expressing important employment skills. How can you know what nouns to include? Take a look at the advertisements and job description to see what the employer is requiring. When you have these skills, be sure to highlight them.
· Avoid using the pronoun "I" in your statements
· Don't write in complete sentences. The employer expects that the subject of the statements is YOU. Experts advise using verb-centered statements.
· If the résumé is composed of more than one page, be sure to write your name in every page. You must also indicate the page number after your name.
· Revise it many times. Your resume demands careful polishing, proofreading, and critiquing.
· Verify all the facts, particularly those involving your previous employment and education. Don't be caught in a mistake, or worse, distortion of previous jobs and dates of employment. These items likely will be verified. Résumé with deception or lies are simply risky.
· Make your résumé look professional. Avoid anything humorous or cute.
· After revising, have someone knowledgeable check it. This document should be perfect!
· Be sure to write your résumé yourself because no one knows YOU better than yourself!

Choosing a Resume Style
Your qualification and career goal will help you choose among the three résumé styles:

·                     Chronological
·                     Functional
·                     Combination

           This is the most popular résumé style. It lists work history job by job, starting with the most recent position. Recruiters prefer this style because it quickly reveals a candidate's work stability and promotion record.  This format works well for candidates who have experience in their fields of employment, and for those who show steady career growth. It highlights experiences directly related to the position you seek.

            This résumé style focuses more on the applicant's skills rather than on past employment. It is used to de-emphasize limited work experience or negative employment history and highlights potentials. This is useful for people with no job experience or has large gaps in between employments. Many candidates who prefer career shift can also benefit from this style.
            This is combined outcome of the chronological and functional styles. This emphasizes a candidate’s capabilities while including complete job listings. This can also work well with fresh graduates and people who had no paid experience in the field.

***Although résumé have standard parts, their arrangement and content must be strategically planned depending on the qualification and experience status of the applicant.***

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