What is a Resumé?
- A concise, written summary of skills, knowledge, and experience.
- A resumé is not an autobiography; it is more like a sales brochure.
- A factual document.
- Your first contact with an employer — your attempt to get an interview.
- Used to compare you with other candidates.
- Guides the interview.
- Information to be included with a cover letter.
Which resumés receive the most attention?
- Easy to scan.
- Inviting to look at — stands out from the others.
- Show that the person applying is qualified and can deliver results.
What should you include in your Resumé?
Unlike other sections of your resumé, this section does not have a special heading like “Contact Information.” Instead it simply lists the following information at the top of the page:
- Your full name.
- Your permanent address.
- Your local or campus address (if applicable).
- Your phone number(s) — make sure your phone answering message is professional.
- Your e-mail address — make sure the address you use is professional! Also be sure that you check it regularly.
The objective is an optional component of the resumé. It should be included when you can be specific about the position/industry in which you are trying to obtain a position in.
- Be short and concise (one sentence, two at the most).
- Do not be so specific that you eliminate opportunities that you might be interested in (such as including job titles rather than focusing on the range of jobs that you would be willing to consider).
- Tailor your objective to the specific job you are applying for.
- Include your most marketable skills in the objective.
Not Specific enough:
"To obtain an internship allowing me to utilize my knowledge and expertise in different areas."
"To obtain a challenging internship in Human Resources, with a specific interest in training and development."
The profile or summary is a section that can be included in place of an objective. This section gives you an opportunity to highlight your key skills using action words. This allows you to focus on what you have to offer, which is what employers are most interested in. You want to highlight the attributes/qualifications you have that make you the best candidate for the job. The more concrete, the better. Be bold, confident and positive when you construct these key statements. Orientate the descriptions to the type of job you are seeking. If you have an impressive qualification and it's relevant, include it as the final point.
- Experienced and innovative general manager with sophisticated sales, customer service, and business administration skills.
- Highly articulate, confident and persuasive team-builder, able to motivate and communicate to achieve exceptional business performance.
- Efficient and determined individual with exceptional interpersonal, computer, and leadership skills.
An education section highlights your relevant schooling and academic training. Individuals who have a substantial amount of work experience might keep this section brief; however, if you lack work experience you can expand upon this section to highlight some of your achievements and skills.
The following information should be included in this section:
- Include the name and location of the university; you can include the specific school (the school is optional but if it is a well known school this is a good idea).
- Date of graduation, actual or anticipated.
- Degree(s) earned and area (example: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies), date of graduation (if you haven’t graduated yet you can indicate expected or anticipated graduation date).
- Grade point average (GPA) if it is over a 3.0.
- Only include other college/universities you attended if you achieved a degree or accomplishment there that is relevant to the position.
If your educational background is your strongest qualification or may help your resumé “stand out,” then you'll probably want to put it near the top. Especially if you are a recent graduate, this section may be a major focus for recruiters. On the other hand, if your experience sections are stronger, then you'll probably want to move your education section below them.
Things you can include:
- Relevant Course Work/ Course Highlights (specific courses can be included in bullet format).
- Honors/Awards (If you have more than two awards you can incorporate it into a section called “Awards” or “Awards and Activities.”
An experience section emphasizes your past and present employment and/or your participation in relevant activities. There are several ways you can title this, some include:
- Work Experience
- Professional Experience
- Work History
- Field Work
- Volunteer Work
You can customize your headings for this section, and it is a good idea to do so if you are tailoring your resumé for a specific position. For example, if the job ad calls for someone with editorial experience, you may want to create a section with the heading “Editorial Experience.” This will obviously draw attention to your resumé.
Also, you may discover you need more than one section to organize your experiences. For instance, you may want a section for volunteer work and another for your work history or one for internships and another for professional experience.
Information to include in this section:
- Company or organization, city, state.
- Position title.
- Dates of employment.
- Key responsibilities and accomplishments in the position (these can be bulleted).
General Tips for Employment section:
- Include your most recent important experience first.
- Describe contributions you made to the position and the responsibilities you assumed.
- Be specific and give numbers where possible (size of budget, number of people supervised, percent increase in sales, etc.).
- Use active phrases and action verbs at the start of each bullet.
Awards and Activities
This section is optional and can be included if you lack work experience but have a good deal of relevant activities and/or awards.
An honors and activities section might include the following:
- Academic awards and scholarships.
- Membership in campus, national, or international organizations.
- Leadership positions held in campus, national, or international organizations.
- University and community service/volunteer positions.
- Date of award or dates of involvement in an activity.
This is an optional section that you can include if you are computer savvy or possess knowledge of computer programs. List computer languages and programs you are capable of working with.
This section is not necessary; employers know that you will provide references if they request them.
- One page is ideal, but do not eliminate important information to keep it to one page. Going beyond one page is acceptable.
- Make sure that you take a “top down” approach. This means that the resumé should start out with the most important information and end with the least important, so make sure you organize the main sections accordingly.
- Make sure all pages include your name and contact information.
- Tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying to. Look for key words from job description and integrate them into your resumé.
- Proofread over and over. One mistake is unacceptable. Have friends, classmates, teachers, etc. proofread for you.
Common Criticisms of Resumés by Employers:
- Too long, short, or condensed.
- Poor layout and physical appearance.
- Misspellings, bad grammar, and wordiness.
- Poor punctuation.
- Lengthy phrases, sentences and paragraphs.
- Too slick, amateurish, and “gimmicky”
- Too boastful or dishonest.
- Poorly typed or reproduced.
- Irrelevant information.
- Critical categories missing.
- Hard to understand or requires too much interpretation.
- Unexplained time gaps.
- Does not convey accomplishments.
- Text does not support objective.
- Unclear objective.
- Lacks credibility and content.
- Too much jargon.
Source: High Impact Resumes and Letters by Krannich & Banis
Purpose of cover letter
- To introduce yourself.
- To inform employers what position you are applying for.
- To personalize your resumé.
- To arouse an employer’s interest and to encourage them to read your resumé.
Content of cover letter
- Must be typed using business letter format.
- Use opening sentence that states the purpose of the letter — Why are you contacting them?
- Mention a name if you have permission, i.e. “Professor Smith suggested I contact you.”
- If you use an individual’s name, be sure the individual you are writing to knows the person you are referring to.
- Briefly state your educational background and or work experience relevant to the job you are seeking. Show the employer that you have the skills/qualifications they are looking for.
- Use a few short sentences emphasizing your particular interests in the organization.
- Indicate what excites and interests you about the job (and the field).
- Close the letter with a reference to the enclosed resumé and specifically request a personal interview.
- Limit your letter to one page. Make it pertinent and brief.
- Tailor each cover letter to the position you are applying; highlight your key skills that match the qualifications/experience they are looking for.
- Go through the job description and underline the key words and qualifications. Make sure that you use those in your cover letter and resumé.
- If possible, address the letter to a specific person in the organization; a quick phone call or search on the organization’s Web site can often provide you with this information.
- Remember, this is your opportunity to demonstrate your written communication skills, so do your best to impress!
What is an Informational Interview?
One of the most effective ways to meet people in a professional field in which you are interested is to request an informational interview. Informational interviewing is a networking approach that allows you to:
- Meet key professionals.
- Gather career information.
- Gather company information.
- Determine if a field is for you.
- Investigate career options.
- Get advice on job search techniques.
This is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about your field. Despite many people’s hesitation to request such interviews, most people enjoy sharing information about themselves and their position and welcome the opportunity to meet for an interview. At the very least this type of interview will allow you to gather valuable information and insight, with the possibility of either directly creating an opportunity or getting a referral to someone else who may have an opportunity. Some interviewees may simply feel a kinship to newcomers to their profession and want to encourage them, while others may be identifying prospects for anticipated vacancies.
How do you get an informational interview?
One approach to securing an interview is to send a letter requesting a brief informational interview. Be specific in indicating that the purpose is to gain information and there is no job expectation. Also specify the amount of time you would like to request; 30 minutes should be a sufficient amount of time. Follow up your letter with a phone call to schedule the face-to-face meeting. Another option is to simply make cold calls in an attempt to get the interview. The most effective way to set up an informational interview is by being referred from one professional to another. This process becomes much easier once you begin to expand your network. If you currently do not have a network, you can start by searching online, using the Yellow Pages, and talking to your professors about potential contacts.
How do you prepare for an informational interview?
You should prepare for your interview in the same way that you would for an employment interview. Conduct research on the organization and be prepared to talk about your own career goals. Keep in mind that you are the one who requested this interview; therefore, you are the one who will need to facilitate the interview. The flow of conversation will be directed by your questions. Outline an agenda that includes well thought-out questions to make the best of the limited time you have.
During the Interview
Begin the interview with questions that demonstrate your genuine interest in the other person, such as having them describe a typical day. Below are some additional example questions. Do not limit yourself to these questions. Ask the questions that will be most beneficial to your exploration process.
- What are the typical career paths in this field?
- What is the advancement potential?
- What can I do to make myself more marketable in this field?
- How did you get your position?
- What do you like most/least about your field?
- Are there any professional organizations in your field that I should know about?
- Can you suggest anyone else in the field I might talk to?
Never leave an information interview without asking for suggestions as to whom else to talk to. This will assist you in expanding your network and increasing your potential employment opportunities. Also, remember to send a thank you letter to the interviewee for taking the time to meet with you.
Transferable Skill Sets for Job-Seekers
Marketable job skills can be broken down into five basic categories — skills sets that job-seekers can use in showing applicable skills from one job/career to the next.
Below is a list of five broad skill areas, which are divided into more specific job skills. These skills can be transferred from one job to another; even when the positions seem completely unrelated. When preparing your resumé think about what transferable skills you have and highlight these skills in your resumé. Do not just include “listen attentively” on your resumé, but instead demonstrate that you have this skill. For example:
- Listen attentively to employee needs and develop procedures accordingly.
- Negotiate client contracts.
- Interview potential candidates and make hiring decisions.
In preparing your resumé, think about the different positions you have had and highlight the skills that you have learned and made good use of in those positions.
Communication: the skillful expression, transmission, and interpretation of knowledge and ideas.
- Speaking effectively
- Writing concisely
- Listening attentively
- Expressing ideas
- Facilitating group discussion
- Providing appropriate feedback
- Perceiving nonverbal messages
- Reporting information
- Describing feelings
Research and Planning: the search for specific knowledge and the ability to conceptualize future needs and solutions for meeting those needs.
- Forecasting, predicting
- Creating ideas
- Identifying problems
- Imagining alternatives
- Identifying resources
- Gathering information
- Solving problems
- Setting goals
- Extracting important information
- Defining needs
- Developing evaluation strategies
Human Relations: the use of interpersonal skills for resolving conflict, relating to and helping people.
- Developing rapport
- Being sensitive
- Conveying feelings
- Providing support for others
- Sharing credit
- Delegating with respect
- Representing others
- Perceiving feelings, situations
Organization, Management and Leadership: the ability to supervise, direct and guide individuals and groups in the completion of tasks and fulfillment of goals.
- Initiating new ideas
- Handling details
- Coordinating tasks
- Managing groups
- Delegating responsibility
- Promoting change
- Selling ideas or products
- Decision making with others
- Managing conflict
Work Survival: the day-to-day skills that assist in promoting effective production and work satisfaction.
- Implementing decisions
- Enforcing policies
- Being punctual
- Managing time
- Attending to detail
- Meeting goals
- Enlisting help
- Accepting responsibility
- Setting and meeting deadlines
- Making decisions
Source: Quintessential Careers: http://www.quintcareers.com/