Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Resume Overview: The Basics

This is the intro to perfecting your resume. The most common type is the standard chronological resume. The basic sections are, in order:

Overview (optional) – If you can briefly summarize your pertinent experience, e.g., “Project Manager with 8 years of experience in X, Y and Z, then it’s ok to have this section. Don’t include an Objective section that details what type of job you’re looking for. Recruiters don’t care what you want, they only care if you match the position they’re trying to fill. Make it easy for them to find the skills and experience they’re looking for.

Work Experience – in reverse chronological order. Include company names, locations, job titles, dates (month/year), and key accomplishments/highlights. Unless you’re just getting started in your career and don’t have a lot of work experience, this section should be the meat of your resume and will be covered in more detail in a later post.

Education – if you’ll be graduating from school soon, put Education before Experience, especially if it’s a degree that’s highly relevant to your job.

Additional Information – certifications, activities, interests, talking points to build rapport with your interviewers. Don’t give a huge list, only the most important or interesting ones. No one reads long lists.

This is so basic, but proofread! It’s all about first impressions and a typo or grammatical error signifies someone without attention to detail. Some companies will throw out a resume based on these details. Remember they’re going to make snap judgments about you unless you have someone on the inside who can vouch for you.

Key words – many companies nowadays scan through resume submissions with key word searches. Make sure the relevant ones for the job you want are sprinkled throughout your resume. The Overview section is a good place to do this, if the necessary key words don’t appear elsewhere.