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RT&A Resume Tips for Job Seekers

With the increasing competition, it is imperative your resume opens the door to opportunities for you. The fact is first impressions are important. In your job search, most often your resume is the first impression you will make with a potential employer.

A conservative approach is best when writing your resume. Unless you are looking for a job in a creative field, fancy fonts, boldly colored paper, and inventive formats will only distract an employer from seeing what they need to see, your qualifications.

When you send a resume to a potential employer, you may feel like you have lost control and whether your resume is being taken into consideration is now out of your hands. To prevent your resume from being tossed into a pile or filed away never to be read again, you must make it stand out. How to do that depends on you and what you do to make it stand out. Here are some tips to get your resume seen so that you are eventually heard.


Personal Information

Provide all your contact information at the top of the page. Name, address, phone number(s), email address, and even fax number, if applicable, should be easily visible. You do not want a recruiter or hiring manager having to go back to your email for contact information. If they like your resume, they may print it out when calling you. They may file your resume away, perhaps for future reference. That filing is likely downloading your resume into a resume database. Your contact information should be on the resume, or it will not be accessible to them if another job comes available. You should also avoid putting your name and/or contact information in a header since many resume databases will have trouble locating that information when parsing the resume into their system.

Reading the Documents

Summary

Many times job seekers include an objective, indicating what type of position they are seeking. This is all well and good provided your objective matches the job you are applying for. However, it is understood, by applying for a specific job that getting it is your objective. Better to write a summary to highlight your achievements. Many hiring managers and recruiters will pass over the summary and jump right to your work experience, but it cannot hurt to provide the highlights of your biggest achievements right at the top. Did you make the company money? Did you come in and save the day for a project or situation that appeared to be a lost cause? Did you win an award? Did you save the company money? If you did something to make yourself stand out, list it in your summary. An objective is more appropriate for someone looking for work right out of school.

Experience

Show the company name, site of employment, and job title. List the months and years of employment chronologically starting with the most recent experience since this is where hiring managers' often focus on first. What have you done lately? You may wish to provide a brief description of the company and their culture/environment. Create bullet points to avoid creating an overly long resume. Do not worry about fragmented sentences. Bullet points highlighting the most important aspects of your previous work are easy to read and conserve space. With each bullet point, make sure to prioritize the content based on biggest accomplishments first. You may also choose to tailor your resume to the job requirements and will prioritize bullet points based on your experience relating to the job specifications. With the idea of, "what have you don't lately" along with keeping your resume short, you will want to use, what is known as an inverted pyramid style. With this, you will have more bullet points for your most recent work and decrease these points to perhaps just one point for your first job. With each new job on your resume, it gets longer. To control the size, you will have to decide which bullet points to eliminate from previous jobs to maintain the one-, two-, three-page, etc...resume you wish to continue presenting. As part of the tailoring process to a specific job, you may choose to eliminate different bullet points to target your experience to the job you are applying for.


Professional Membership/Certifications (Not Always Applicable)

For those, with technical skills, who have specific certifications list them before the skills section. For other professions, memberships are a good way to show who you know. These "extra" achievements will help an employer see the dedication you have to your profession and thus, to the company you are hoping to impress. Even if the membership is not necessarily specific to your profession, it may show you are an active member of society with a passion their company wishes to see in their employees. Some will indicate their certifications with a logo toward the top of their resume. Let people know up front your expertise. You may also choose to include this information within your summary if it is considered a bigger selling point than other achievements.

Skills (Not Always Applicable)

Depending on your profession, you will want to list your skill set. For technical people, it is important to list the buzz words that hiring managers/recruiters often look for in determining the right candidate. For many job requirements, candidates must have specific skills. Listing your skills will give the hiring manager a clear understanding of the technical environment that you are familiar with and if you are right for the job. For technical candidates, do not rely on the skills category to stand out. Indicate within the body of the resume your technical skills to let hiring managers know exactly what you have done lately. It is one thing to list a technology/skill you are familiar with and quite another to list that technology and your practical experience in that area. Just listing a skill may get you heard, but if you do not have the on-the-job experience in that area, they may not like what you have to say.

Education (Higher Priority For Recent Graduates)

Simply list the schools and the degrees earned along with the concentration of study. If you earned a BS or BA degree, list it clearly. Do not be ambiguous. Some candidates that have studied but never earned a degree make it appear they have graduated from college. If you earned a degree leave no doubt and leave the ambiguity to those candidates that took courses towards but never earned their degrees. Indicating you are taking classes will not necessarily get you in the door for an interview. But, if you are not actively taking classes, despite what your resume indicates, you will only hurt your chances in the interview.