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Things To Keep In Mind While Preparing The Resume

In preparing your resume, the more you know about the position you are targeting, the better. If you know the company’s missions and goals, if you understand the needs of the position, if you recognize the company’s “concerns,” and if you know who comprises the company’s competition, you will be prepared.

And if you (and your unique skills and experience) can meet the needs of all the above (you would need to have accurately assessed your own value to those who have employed you in the past), you will have the material necessary to create an effective marketing piece.

As in any type of marketing material, it is important to present the information so that it captures your customer’s interest quickly. Your goal is to encourage the reader to stay with your document as long as possible. Your chance for a more detailed reading increases when you give the reader that information which he or she most wants to secure, early in the document.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create a Summary Section at the beginning of your resume. A Summary Section highlights for your reader those personal and professional skills you possess that allow you to excel in your chosen field and position.

Items and skills of greatest importance (from your readers’ viewpoint) should be listed in priority, supporting an impression of both “fit” and potential success. In addition, these should be aspects of your background that set you apart from your competing candidates, particularly candidates with skill sets similar to your own.

You are, in effect, showing your reader how you will solve their problems – better than the competition – and why interviewing you will be a worthwhile expenditure of their time.

You are not writing your resume in order to put your career autobiography out there for posterity. This is not about you – seriously. It is about how you can meet the needs of your reader – in this particular position at this particular company. As discussed in What is a Resume, it is all about them.

During the interview is when your first opportunity for negotiation takes place and you get to discuss what you get out of the deal. But right now, the only person who matters is your reader. They hold all the marbles.

When writing your resume, keep in mind your specific reader. Listing information that will be of no value to the position or company being targeted is just a waste of time.

Check for redundancy in your statements. If the positions you have held are similar, then repeating the same functions in detail throughout your document is unnecessary (heard it, got it). However, do not short-change yourself on your accomplishments.

Your potential employer is most interested in seeing how hiring you will benefit him/her and the company. If you are dealing with a hiring manager or human resource director, you can bet he or she has a lot resting on the fact that, if you are hired, they found the right person for the job.

It is expensive to hire, train, and let someone go – and it is their job to make sure this does not happen. All parties involved want to know they are making the right decision, and it is your job to assure them that they are.

The most effective way to do this is by identifying how you have benefited employers in the past. Take credit for your participation and accomplishments. While looking at the aspects of your background may seem minor or of little value to you, they may be seen as a valuable asset to those looking to fill a need.

The layout of your resume is extremely important. Your resume needs to maintain a “clean” and professional appearance (remember, it is representing you!). It should allow the reader to access the information quickly. Neat margins, adequate “white space” between groupings, and indenting to highlight text, aid the ease of reference and retention of the material.

Use “bolding” and italics sparingly. Overuse of these features actually diminishes their effectiveness of promoting the material they are intended to highlight.

Your contact information (how the reader can reach you) is essentially the most important information in the entire document. Make certain your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if included) are clearly visible and at the top of your document (from habit, this is where your reader will look for this information – do not make them search for it).

If you are including additional pages, be certain that your name is on these secondary pages.  Consider including your phone number here, too, in case your sheets become separated.

The standards for resume length have changed. It used to be typical for resumes to be one-page in length, and no longer. For candidates with years of experience, having held multiple positions, or with outstanding achievements, this one-page constraint often results in a document that is unreadable, looks “squashed,” or utilizes a font size so small that the reader is required to squint (no, they won’t actually bother). The one-page standard no longer holds true.

Use as much space as you need to concisely, accurately, and effectively communicate your skills, history, achievements, and accomplishments – as these relate to the position and company being targeted.

A two-page document, if presented well, will not diminish the effectiveness of your marketing strategy – as long as the information you provide is relevant and valuable to your reader’s goals and interests.

A three-page resume is requiring much of your reader’s time (and patience), and may not be as effective as a more concise presentation. In academic fields and European markets, it may be necessary to go over two pages in length, but only provide this much information if you absolutely can not present your history and achievements in less.

If you are certain your reader will agree with you, they will not mind reading a resume over three pages. An overly long presentation may leave your reader wondering if you can be concise in anything you do.

Document in detail your most recent 10-15 years of employment and/or experience. Longer if the most recent position extended 10 years or more. Be certain to document growth in a company where multiple positions have been held, including identification of promotions and increased responsibilities.

List positions held prior to this in decreasing detail, unless a previous position more effectively documents relevant skills for the position you are currently targeting.

You want to entice you reader into wanting to meet you (the interview) to learn more. Current history and recently utilized skills will hold the most value.

Remember, you will have an opportunity to expand on the information in your resume during the interview. So, entice your reader to want to learn more, but don’t forget to leave something to tell.

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