Article18

Qualifications – what do employers look for?

When applying for jobs, it is important that you read through the job description thoroughly before submitting your application. A lot of what employers are actually looking for in their potential associate is written right in the job description and requirements. In fact, you should review your resume against the requirements listed in order to make sure you have covered everything the employer is looking for. If you can address all the requirements by the information in your resume or in your cover letter, you will be on the right track for getting the job.

However, there is a whole list of skills employers look for that are never spelled out in the job description. These skills are typically referred to as employability skills, which are skills beyond your technical knowledge and qualifications that make you a great professional in your field. Don’t panic, you already have employability skills, you just may not think of them as critical for getting a job.

The employability skills have been grouped in eight categories:

• Communication skills

• Teamwork skills

• Problem-solving skills

• Initiative and enterprise skills

• Planning and organizing skills

• Self-management

• Learning skills

• Technology skills

Now that you have read the categories, you are thinking to yourself, yes, I have those skills. But did you ever think to list them on the resume? Most people focus on their professional achievements and responsibilities, and they often skip these skills in favor of those that are job specific. However, more and more employers look for these skills in resumes. Your potential employer wants to know that you are a team player, that you communicate well, and will show initiative when needed. While you may think this is implied by your interest in the available position, employers like to see these skills called out on your resume or cover letter.

The best way to demonstrate these skills is through your experience and under your qualifications. Point out the initiatives you have participated in that required you to work in a team, under a deadline, or as a self-starter. Demonstrate your loyalty through pointing out your accomplishments at an organization and how they benefited your team as a whole (not just you). You can showcase the employability skills in your cover letter by openly showing your enthusiasm for the available position, stating your commitment to your career objective, indicating your motivation and your integrity, and showing that you are above all un-selfish and credible. These skills are just as critical to your ability to do a great job as your professional experience and education – employers are looking for someone who will be a great fit on their team and in their organization, someone who works well under pressure but also has a sense of humor and has a balance between their personal and professional life.

Review your existing resume. Does it contain any employability skills? If not, make revisions to incorporate those employability skills you feel you excel in. If you are unsure, ask your friends or family for an objective opinion, so that you can get a better idea of how people around you see you as a person as well as a professional. Keep these attributes in mind as you compose your resume and your cover letter, and especially as you are taking part in interviews. These skills can make a difference between knowing how to do a job and being qualified to exceed goals and grow in your career.

Article16

Prioritizing job descriptions in your resume

The most difficult and time consuming section of any resume is the listing of your work experience, no matter the level you have reached in your professional career. If you have just graduated college and don’t have any full-time professional experience, you are concerned if your part time job and summer internship are enough to get your foot in the door. If you are a seasoned professional with extensive work experience, you are worried how to fit all of your hard work on only one page. If you are changing careers, you are unsure which skills best showcase your qualifications. Listing work responsibilities on our resumes doesn’t get easier as our career progresses. The key is to consider your career objective and prioritize your work in accordance to your goals.

When people are asked about work responsibilities, they have a tendency to disclose the routine items first. This method can be a costly mistake for listing your professional experiences on your resume because it leaves all of the important and key qualifications at the bottom of the list. To avoid falling into this practice, first put together a list of your responsibilities on a sheet of paper. For your initial draft, don’t worry about how you are phrasing each statement – just make a list of everything that you do in your current or have done in your previous jobs.

Once your list is completed, consider all of the responsibilities you have included. What are the three most important items on the list for each job? How do those items relate to your career objective? Are there any other responsibilities you have listed that better support your career objective than the three you picked as the most critical to your job? You have to consider all these questions in order to prioritize your job descriptions on your resume.

Begin each description with a power word, such as managed, developed, communicated, etc. Make sure that the statements you list first quantify your achievements – don’t be afraid to list sales figured, customer acquisition rates, budget and timeline successes, or any other figures which help put your responsibilities in a context of the business/field you are working in. Also, these statements should be aligned with your career objective. If you want to get a job in project management, letting your employer know that you managed a team of 20 people will effectively highlight your qualifications. It is important to quantify your job description statements on your resume; however, as a word of caution, do not quantify all statements, just one or two that are most critical to your job and are goal driven. This shows your employer that you think in terms of exceeding your goals. All subsequent descriptions of your responsibilities should support the first one or two items on your list.

Prioritizing doesn’t only apply to your job descriptions, although it is the most commonly disregarded element in this particular area of the resume. Achievements and qualifications are often misrepresented because they are not ordered properly. Same rules apply – consider which of your achievements and your qualifications are most complimentary to your career objective, and list them first. For example, if you are applying for a job in customer service, list your communication skills before your computer skills. While both are important, your communication skills are more in line with your career objective, and therefore should take priority.

As a final test, put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Cross-check the job description and make sure that you address the qualifications required for the job with the information on your resume. Let your potential employer know you have what they are looking for, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.

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How to write an effective and original objective statement

A career objective, often listed as objective only on your resume, is a statement of your career goals. It sounds simple – you want to get a good job, utilize your experience and education, and get paid well. However, this is the most difficult part of the resume to compose, as you are limited to one to two sentences in which you are expected to convey your professional expertise, expectations from a job and an organization, as well as goals for your professional growth. Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it?

The most common mistake people make is not listing an objective. Most people operate under the assumption that the objective is not necessary to include in a resume because it states the obvious – your objective is to get the job you are applying for. However, this is a big misconception. Employers are looking for an objective; they want to know what it is that you are looking for in order to determine whether or not you are a good match for their company.

The second most common mistake is including a career objective that doesn’t actually express your goals and your qualification. For example, a statement like the one below is commonly used is resumes:

“To obtain a position where my experience and education can be utilized and expanded.”

If you examine this statement, you will find it doesn’t say anything specific about what you are looking for in terms of professional growth. Avoid using generic statements like this. They will hurt you more than help you in your job search, because your employer will be left with an impression that you don’t have a set a goal in mind.

Now that you know what not to do, here are some helpful tips on creating a winning career objective that will get your resume noticed and get your foot in the door. First, make your career objective personal. Think of your whole resume as a sales tool; your career objective is your opening statement. You want your employer to know what you want, not just restate what other people want. Second, you want to state your commitment to your career goal. If you are unsure of what you want, how is your employer to believe that you really want the job at their organization and you are not just applying because you want to get out of your current work environment? Don’t be afraid to state what you want from a job and from an organization. Third, while you want to state your commitment, you also want to show that you are willing to take action to achieve your goal. Indicate what direction or action you are willing to take in order to accomplish your career objective. Fourth and most important factor in a successful career objective is being specific about what you are looking for in a work situation. While you can say that you are looking for a “challenging” environment, this doesn’t mean anything to your employer, as people define challenges in various ways. Avoid using generic and broad terms. Simply state what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it.

Keeping in mind these criteria, let’s revise the above career objective statement so that it effectively states what you want.

“To obtain a position of a sales representative in a health insurance industry, where I can utilize my management and customer relations skills, with the opportunity for performance-based advancement.”

This statement tells a potential employer that you know what kind of job you want, what experience you have in order to get the position, and what you are willing do to become a successful professional with the company. Thus, you have just created a winning career objective for your resume.

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What to do when your job title doesn’t match your job responsibilities

A friend of mine asked for my help recently in composing her resume. She works as an Office Manager for a small business. In her role, she assumes all responsibilities of an Office Manager. In addition, she partners with the company owner to set policies, works with freelancers on marketing materials, serves as a liaison between vendors and shipping service companies, and conducts calls for sales leads that are collected at trade shows. In other words, her title doesn’t encompass all of her job responsibilities. Several potential employers have in fact had concerns about the difference in her title and her overall position in the company, wondering if she had exaggerated her responsibilities on her resume.

Many professionals run into situations where the title they have at their current job is so specific to the company that it carries no meaning outside of the organization, or it implies that they are a level or more below their actual work responsibilities. The difficulty we face in these situations is accurately accounting for our professional experience on our resume in order to advance in our careers. There is no easy way to address this as you want to remain truthful on your resume; you wouldn’t want your potential employer calling for a reference check and getting an impression you lied about your work history, do you?

There is a debate among professionals about listing job titles versus job functions on your resume. Some people prefer listing their title as it is, followed by a list of responsibilities, while others strongly prefer finding a way to rephrase your title to encompass your job function(s). The best option, however, is to find a happy medium and list your job title along with a few words that describe your job function, before you begin listing your job responsibilities.

First, let’s explore making changes to the job titles as you include them on your resume. If your title unusual, or very specific to the organization, you should try to find an equivalent title that is well accepted and understood within your industry. For example, if you work as a customer support representative supporting a specific product and your title contains the product name, you can simply list Product Support Representative on your resume. However, be careful not to exaggerate your title. Do not change your title so that it implies change in responsibility or salary level; do not change the area of the organization where you work, or change your title in a way that suggest you are directly reporting to a person in a higher position than that of your manager. Any such changes on your resume are dishonest, and will negatively impact your credibility with your potential employer.

If your title implies less responsibility than you hold, chose the middle ground option described above. List your actual title on your resume. For example, if you are a Product Support Representative but are also responsible for training new hires for your team, list your title as follows: Product Support Representative/Customer Support and New Hire Training. All you are doing here is elaborating on your job title by including a brief description of your job function. Following this title, make sure that your resume includes power statements describing your actual job responsibilities, in order of their importance and relevance to your career title. This method is preferred because you are honest about your title, but you are also indicating to your employer that your responsibilities are slightly different than what the title implicates. When background checks and reference calls are conducted, you will not have to worry about misrepresenting your title, or causing raised questions about your credibility. Above all, your resume must be honest. Do the best you can to remain objective when it comes to your job titles and functions – focus on the positives, and you are sure to have a winning resume.

Article49

Addressing the cover letters – avoid these three major mistakes

Many professionals spend hours writing and re-writing their cover letter. With each resume submission, we tend to revise our cover letter to make sure that it is personalized for the position we are applying for. While we spend so much time on the content of the cover letter, we seem to disregard a very important and prominent area of the letter – the address line. Most mistakes in the cover letter are made in the address line. This is very problematic as this is the first piece of information that the potential employer sees on your resume. If mistakes are made in the address line, it is likely that the potential employer will discard the letter and you will lose an opportunity to be considered as a candidate for the job that you want. The following three mistakes are most common in addressing the cover letter and should be considered before your cover letter is sent to the employer:

1. Not addressing the letter to a person. This is a big mistake in the world of cover letters. Generic greetings, such as “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Human Resources Team,” are not favorable. If the job description or posting does not include the contact person, you will need to do some research to find out who the appropriate contact is for the job you are applying for. Additionally, avoid addressing the letter to a job title. Call the organization and find out who is the hiring manager or the recruiter for the job, and address the letter directly to them. In case it is impossible to find out who the appropriate contact is, it is often recommended that you leave off any generic greetings and simply begin the cover letter.

2. Misspelling the name of the organization. Even if you are addressing your cover letter to a specific person, you will still need to include the name of the company and their address. Always make sure that the company name is spelled correctly. Hiring managers and recruiters know from experience that misspelling the company name is a common mistake, but it’s the easiest one to avoid. Triple-check the company name on your cover letter. If your potential employer receives the letter with the incorrect company name, your letter will never make it past the first person who receives it.

3. Your first sentence doesn’t explain why you are contacting the company. This is a common mistake as many people assume that stating that you are contacting the company regarding employment, as you are including your resume, is unnecessary. However, this is not the case. Let your potential employer exactly why you are contacting them; state the title of the job you are interested in, and how your qualifications make you an ideal candidate for the job. Your first statement needs to be straight forward, energetic, and positive, and it should invite the employer to read through the rest of the cover letter. Bland and generic opening statements will result in disinterest on the part of your employer, and your resume will not get pass the first review.

Article39

Transferable skills – what they are and how to demonstrate them in your resume?

People put a lot of thought into changing careers. After all, it is one of the more important decisions one can make. We have to consider our families, our living and financial situations, our competitive advantage in the new field, etc. Making a career change typically means starting with a blank canvas; while you have the freedom to paint that canvas any which way you wish, you have to invest time, energy, make sacrifices and prove yourself as a credible professional in your new field. You have to be competitive, and motivated, and sustain the drive that is necessary to be successful. After you convince yourself that changing careers is the right thing to do, you will have to convince your potential employers to give you the job you are seeking.

To do so, you have to do your research. Demonstrate to your employer that you have an extensive knowledge of the industry, even if you don’t have the accompanying experience. Before you begin your new career, make sure that you understand what professional paths are available for you, and determine what your ultimate goal is. This will help you form the career objective for your resume. Additional, make sure to do your research on the company you are interested in, as well as their competition (if you are interested in non-profit organizations, make sure to brush up on other organizations with similar missions); if invited for an interview, you will want to appear very knowledgeable not only about their company, but about the industry as a whole. You will have to convince your potential employer that you the best person for the job, better than the candidates with experience – to do that, you have to showcase not only your enthusiasm for the opportunity, but your eagerness to learn and your knowledge about the field.

Transferable skills, those skills that can be utilized in numerous fields, are also a key to a successful career change. Consider your qualifications to date. What experience have you acquired that can be transferred across industries? Transferable skills include verbal and written communication, people management, customer relations, organization and project management, development of new processes, generation of new ideas or concepts, etc. Such skills can be adapted to all organizations, and you should utilize them to showcase your qualifications for the job you are seeking. For example, if you would like to ditch the 9-to-5 desk job for a hectic, unpredictable life of a high school teacher, let your potential employer know that your previous experience in leading by motivation makes you a perfect candidate for the job (even if that marketing project you managed has nothing to do with teaching English composition). Making a list of all your professional experiences and the qualifications needed for the job you are seeking will help you in determining which skills are transferable to your new career. Once you define your transferable skills, use a functional resume to assure most (if not all) of the qualifications needed for the new job are met in your resume.

In addition to your resume, use your cover letter or email to let your potential employer know why you are changing careers, and that your new interest is not a passing one. Make sure that your resume reflects your newfound interest in a genuine and professional manner, and you are sure to have a successful career change.

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Make your resume scannable

Most job applications are now done electronically, and most employers, no matter the job level, request a resume from the candidates. Have you ever wondered why employers would request resumes from all candidates, when it can be extremely time consuming to review them all? Employers don’t actually review every resume they receive; companies use various software to scan the resumes they receive for key words and content specific to their available positions. Typically, this is the first round of resume review. Your resume has to make it pass the computer-generated scan in order to make it into the hands of the hiring manager.

While your resume may be well-written and well-formatted, it may not be scannable. This may be the reason why you are not receiving calls from potential employers, even if you have great qualifications for the job. To make your resume scannable, follow these tips:

• Special formatting may cause certain letters in words to touch, and blend into one character. This is especially the case if a word is bolded or italicized. Make sure that you review your resume and revise any parts where letters are joined together, so that the words can be scanned.

• Font type and font size are very important for both your printed and electronic resume. When the resume is scanned, it is important that the font is recognizable by the software. Stick to the basic fonts, such as Ariel and Times New Roman, and to the basic font size, such as 10 or 12 points.

• Do not underline words or phrases in your resume. In an electronic format, underlining implies that the text links to another document or a web site. Additionally, do not have any lines in the resume that touch the text, as this will prevent the resume from being scannable.

• All the text in your resume should read from left to right in order for your resume to be scannable. No special formatting, such as tables, or columns, should be contained within your electronic resume.

• Do not use special characters that may not be recognized by scanning software. This includes special formatting of bullets, use of ampersands or percent signs, copyright signs, or any other characters that may not be easily recognizable by scanning software. If you are quantifying information on your resume, make sure to spell out the percentage instead of using “%” as you are indicating increase in sales, for example. Whenever possibly, avoid using signs or special characters in your resume.

• Even if you submit a printed resume, the document may be scanned for key words to match your qualifications with available positions. It is very important that your submission is on plain white paper, in basic font type and size. If you are submitting multiple pages, make sure that all the pages are numbered, with your name in the top left corner. Do not staple multiple pages. If you do so, only the top page will be scanned.

• The most important element of a scannable resume is the selection of active keywords, or power words. Do your research and make sure that you use the appropriate keywords in your resume that apply toward the position you are seeking. Having appropriate keywords throughout your resume makes it easier for the software to find matches when scanning the document. Helpful tip: review the employer’s job requirements for keywords. What are the required qualifications for the job? Make sure that your resume contains the same terminology as that on the job description, without direct copying of the text, of course. When your resume is scanned, the software will pick up these key words and you can be one step closer to landing your dream job.

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Resume writing from scratch – how to get started

Facing a blank page when you are trying to write a resume can be very scary. You may think that you don’t have enough to say about yourself to fill a page; you may be wondering just how to list all of your skills and experience within a single sheet of paper. To get started, ask yourself some questions about your past jobs and your career goals.

Before you even begin writing a resume, define the exact reasons why you need one. While this may sound simple, it takes more than saying, “I want to get a new job.” Consider your career objective first. Make sure that your goals are specific in terms of industry, position title, and future professional achievements. Once you are clear on the type of job you are seeking, it will be much easier to compose a resume that highlights your expertise in the area of your interest.

Once you have your career objective developed, do some research on a resume format that is most commonly used and may be most appropriate for your industry. Search the Internet or check out the books in your local library to get a better idea of what well-written professional resumes look like. Once you find a format that best suits your field and your career objective, use the same layout to get started.

When listing your personal information at the top of the resume, include your address, home and/or mobile phone number, and your email address. A helpful hint about listing your email address – make sure that it contains your name, as this helps you appear more professional. You can create a free Yahoo email account; it also maybe helpful to have one email address as a point of contact for your job search.

Before you begin listing your experiences, make sure to list them out on a separate sheet of paper, in chronological order, starting with the most recent job you had (possibly the job you are presently holding). List up to five previous jobs you have held, although make sure that your resume does not exceed two pages in length. Make sure that are listed in order; don’t skip any of your employments as this will create gaps in your professional history.

When listing your education, start with your college attendance and move to your most recent accomplishments. If you never attended college, make sure to include any courses, even if they were taken as training at your previous jobs, which will help in showcasing your qualifications. In terms of skills, make sure to list, in bullet point form, all of the abilities that confirm that you are the best candidate for the job you are seeking.

You can omit references from your resume, but let your potential employer know that you can provide them if necessary. You can do so in the cover letter or by including a line at the bottom of your resume that simply states, “Professional references available upon request.”

As your final check point, ask a friend or a family member to review your resume, and give you feedback. Having a second pair of eyes can help you correct any typos, or even bring to your attention anything that appears unclear or confusing. A well-written, error-free resume will help you put your best foot forward and get the job that exceeds your career goals.

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Resume headings – what information to include and how to format it

The first and most prominent item on your resume if your name and contact information. Your name is typically in the largest font, standing apart from all other text on your resume. A common mistake professionals make is trying to emphasize their name in a special font type. As it is difficult to anticipate the software and its version your potential employer is using, you run a risk of not knowing exactly how your name will show up on their screen. Stick to the basic font types – Arial and Times New Roman are most commonly used and are least risky when it comes to formatting your resume. Don’t go overboard on the font size either. Your name should be in point size 14 or 16; all other headings should be in 12 or 14 point font, while the remaining text of your resume should be between 10 and 12 points. Along with your name, the very top of your resume should contain your mailing address, your email address, and at least one phone number where you can be reached. It is best to include a physical mailing address over a P. O. Box, whenever possible. You should never include an email address at your current place of employment (believe us, it happens). A helpful hint about listing your email address – make sure that it contains your name, as this helps you appear more professional. You can create a free Yahoo email account; it also maybe helpful to have one email address as a point of contact for your job search. At least one phone number should be listed; make sure to indicate if you are listing a home or a mobile number. If you have a professional web site, you can include the address to it along with your contact information. Please note, only do so if there isn’t anything on the web site that is personal; the only reason your potential employer may want to look at a web site is if your professional portfolio or a copy of your resume can be found there.

Whether you decide to create a chronological or a functional resume, you will need to separate the information by headings. The best advice we can give you is to keep the section headings professional and stick to the basics. Don’t try to come up with creative titles for your professional summary, or for your qualifications. Your chronological resume should have the following sections/titles:

- career objective

- professional summary (optional)

- professional experience/work experience/experience

- education

- publications/special achievements (if applicable)

- qualifications/skills

- references/references and portfolio

A functional resume is slightly different, and the headings you chose will truly depend on the skills you are trying to highlight. You should include:

- career objective

- education

- professional skills/professional qualifications (this section will include sub-headings as they relate to specific qualifications you want to promote, such as communications, customer relations, managements, etc.)

- work experience/work history (if applicable; should only include dates, titles, companies and locations without listing responsibilities)

- volunteer work/activities (if applicable)

- references

These are the typical sections of chronological and functional resumes. Do some research on resume styles and find sample resumes of professionals in your industry. You may need to adjust these headings based on your field, although the content should be consistent across industries. Stick to the basics; don’t try to be creative in order to stand out. A professional and polished resume will get you noticed, so do your best to create a resume that is error free and best supports your career objective.

Article47

Why you need a resume even if you own your own business

As a business owner, you may think that having an up-to-date resume is not as important as it would be if you were actively seeking a new job. However, having an updated resume is critical for any professional, even if you are not looking for a job. Small business owners should have an updated resume in order to be able to share their professional experience with potential investors, vendors, clients, etc.

If you have a viable business idea and are looking to start your own business, it is important that you have a very well written, polished, professional resume. You will need to use your resume, along with your business plan, in order to gain investment opportunities for your business and gets started. Your resume should be written as if you are applying to be a business owner of the organization you wish to start. While this may sounds silly, as you would of course be working for yourself, it is important to show your investors that you have professional experience to run the business you are proposing. Your qualifications, career goals, education and prior experience should all be aligned with your business venture.

Once you have started your own business, you will come in contact with vendors, independent contractors, and clients who will want to know what you are about before they decide to do business with you. While you can promote your business through a web site, or other advertising mediums, if you are new to what you do, people will want to know about you. To help assure then in your abilities, you can use a resume to let them know of your qualifications. You can use the same resume for your vendors or clients as you used you’re your investors. Keep in mind that any financial goals pertaining to the business, that may be necessary for your investors, should never appear on the resume or personal letter you send to your clients or business partners. Your professional summary should be changed to show how you would service your clients or your vendors; a statement about client satisfaction would be necessary in a resume you are to share with your clients, for example.

Additionally, as a small business owner, you may have an opportunity to branch out into another business, start a new location of your existing business, partner with another company, or even have an opportunity to go work for a larger company in your field. In each of these scenarios, you may need an up-to-date resume highlighting your professional and entraprenureal experience. It is best to have a prepared resume, and keep updating it or customizing it for specific audiences as necessary. Avoid finding yourself in a position of not having a resume when requested, or having to develop a resume from a blank page in a short period of time. This exposes you to appearing unprofessional, and not representing yourself or your business in a professional and serious light. Thus, you will want to have a well-written and a well-formatted resume even if you own your own business; marketing yourself well, in addition to marketing your business well, will assure your success as a business owner.

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How to write a professional summary for your resume

In today’s competitive job market, employers relay on well-written resumes to screen potential candidates. In many instances, employers look through job search web sites, such as HotJobs. com or Monster. com, to find professionals with skills, education and experience that fit their needs. These employment search web sites, along with many companies’ own online applications, require candidates to upload their resume in order to express interest in a specific opportunity. Without an opportunity to send a personal email, or a cover letter, you have to make sure that your resume expresses your personality in addition to listing your professional and educational experiences and achievements. To do so, you can include a professional profile or summary at the beginning of your resume that allows you to market yourself through a narrative. This section allows your potential employers to learn something unique about you and your career, as well as get a good feel of your communication skills.

To write an effective summary, you should first understand what information should not be communicated in your resume. While a summary provides an insight into what is unique and competitive about you, it is not a place for you to indicate any personal information that does not relate to your career. Information such as ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and affiliations, etc. should be left out of your resume. While descriptive of who you are, this information is not relevant to your potential employer in order to pre-screen your qualifications for their opportunity. Additionally, the summary should not contain your previous professional experience, unless you can clearly demonstrate how such background can be of value in your future career development. Beware of generic statements, such as “I am well organized and detail oriented.” Employers want to hear your unique voice and get a sense of your communication skills while reading the summary portion of your resume. Using generalizations about your abilities will make the employers believe that you are either a poor communicator or are using such statements to fill up space on your resume.

Your summary should be in form of a short paragraph or bulleted statements, containing only several sentences. There isn’t a sentence limit, but as a rule do not take up more than one quarter of the page. Your summary should begin by a headline that summarizes your professional title and/or your professional statement. Emphasize your title by featuring the headline in bold and larger font, as it allows your potential employer to grasp who you are quickly. For example:

Financial Planning Professional

Achieved Double-Digit Return for All Clients through Well-Balanced Financial Portfolios

It is important that this title is well crafted, as it is the first impression your potential employer will have of you.

There are three things a well-written summary should address:

- Your experiences and skills as they relate to your idea job

- What you can bring to the organization and the open position that no other candidate can

- Your professional goals.

Even though your resume summary is written by you, it should be composed in third person, in present tense. Think of it as a summary of what one of your best colleagues would say about your professional achievements. Reinforce your title, and sell only the experiences and skills that meet your career objective. If you have multiple career objectives, such as you wish to get a position in either marketing or public relations, develop separate resume summaries for each of the objectives. A summary can also contain a brief bulleted section highlighting only a few vital competitive skills that you bring to the table. An example of an effective summary would be as follows:

Successful financial planning professional with over 15 years of personal and retirement planning experience. Managed a small financial planning firm, achieving double-digit financial returns for all clients by developing personalized investment portfolios. Leader in development and professional growth of four other financial planners in the firm through effective and motivating mentoring strategies.

Key competencies include:

o Personalized portfolio development

o Financial forecasting

o Retirement portfolio management

o Development on-going professional growth strategies

Much like your overall resume, your summary should be well-written and error-free. Make sure to review your summary, and customize as necessary for the various opportunities of interest. An effective summary will help you “hook” your employer; it should sell you as a primary candidate for the job, leaving your employer with a great first impression of you.

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What is a resume and why is it so important?

A resume is a one - to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background. The heading of the resume should contain your name, address and contact information. The body of the resume should be broken into the following sections: career objective, profile/summary, professional experience, achievements, scholastics, and references. Your career objective should be brief, up to two sentences; it should give your potential employers an idea of how you wish to move forward in your professional life. A concise profile or a summary should discuss who you are and how your skills and experience best apply to the job you are interested in. The summary, as well as other parts of your resume, should not contain personal information that discloses ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, living situations, or any other personal information that is not directly related to your career. Personal profile/summary should only contain a few well-written sentences that convey what you can bring to the table in terms of the specific job. Use this section to attract the employer’s attention, but don’t go overboard in trying to be creative – stay professional. Your experience listing should include information on one to five jobs you’ve held, starting with your current or last job, and listing previous positions in chronological order.

The listing should include the date range of your employment, name of the companies or person(s) you have worked for, and the city and state where the place of employment is located (full address of employment is not necessary). List your title and your main responsibilities, with emphasis on duties that are applicable to the type of work you are seeking. Your education should include college, graduate and post-graduate work, as well as any courses or professional certifications that are relevant to your career development. Achievements, volunteer positions, publications and interests should only be listed if they apply to your professional work experience References should be listed if requested; best practices suggest not to list generic statements about references being available upon request as this is understood.

In the competitive, internet-driven world of job searches, your resume represents you to potential employers. It serves as your tool to attract attention, get the interview and/or get a job. A great resume will make you stand out from other candidates by showcasing your aptitudes. Think of your resume as your sales pitch – you need to sell yourself in the best possible way. Invest some time and research into developing your resume. You will want to make sure that your resume is error free – double check your grammar and spelling, make sure that all company and school names and cities are spelled properly. A resume containing errors, no matter how minimal, will give your potential employer an impression that you do not have attention to detail, that you don’t take time to double check your work, and that you are a poor communicator. Additionally, make sure that your resume is formatted well. Stick to basic fonts, like Arial and Times New Roman. Keep the font size and color standard; don’t use large fonts or multi-colors in your resume. Don’t go overboard with bold, italicized, or large-cap text. Keep your format consistent and make sure that the resume looks great when viewed online as well as when printed out. Keep your resume to one or two pages – any additional pages give an impression that you either don’t know how to concisely summarize your education and experience, or that you are listing unnecessary information for the sake of taking up space. If you’ve never written a resume before, reference books, Internet resources or seek assistance from a professional resume writing service. A well-written resume can make a difference between being stuck at your current job and getting an interview to land the job of your dreams.

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Quantifying your resume

The most difficult and time consuming section of any resume is the listing of your work experience, no matter the level you have reached in your professional career. The key is to consider your career objective and prioritize your work in accordance to your goals.

Your professional experience should not only showcase the activities you have done in your previous jobs, but should demonstrate your qualifications in the way that motivates employers to want to know more. Of course, we are referring to results, any tangible, measurable items that are impacting to the bottom line. Let your employers know that your project came within budget, that you exceeded the timeline, that you acquired X number of new customers, or that you increased sales by a double-digit percentage. Employers can wrap their minds around numbers, because they are focused on them daily. You want to let your potential employer know that you can think in the same way they do and that you take results into serious consideration as your perform your job on day-to-day basis.

To get started with your work history, begin each description with a power word, such as managed, developed, communicated, etc. Do some research and use only the power words and phrases that are appropriate for your industry. Make sure that the statements you list first under your job responsibilities quantify your achievements – don’t be afraid to list sales figured, customer acquisition rates, budget and timeline successes, or any other figures which help put your responsibilities in a context of the business/field you are working in. Be specific. The only way your statements are truly quantified is if you include numbers. Saying that you acquired new customers is significantly different from saying that you increased the customer database by 10%. As mentioned above, this is the most critical aspect of listing your job descriptions on your resume. Your employer wants to know not only what you did, but how well you did it. Also, these statements should be aligned with your career objective you included at the top of the resume. If you want to get a job in project management, letting your employer know that you managed a team of 20 people and the overall results you achieved will effectively highlight your qualifications. It is important to quantify your job description statements on your resume; however, as a word of caution, do not quantify all statements, just one or two that are most critical to your job and are goal driven. This shows your employer that you think in terms of exceeding your goals. All subsequent descriptions of your responsibilities should support the first one or two items on your list.

As a final test, put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Cross-check the job description and make sure that you address the qualifications required for the job with the information on your resume. Let your potential employer know you have what they are looking for, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.

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Designing your resume to grab employer’s attention

Job hunting can be one of the most exhilarating and yet one of the most agonizing experiences in your life. While you look forward to the new chapter in your professional life, finding a way to stand out from other candidates, who are at least equally qualified for the position you want, is a difficult task.

Your resume is the first contact your potential employer has with you. A well formatted and a well-written resume can make a difference between getting the interview and getting the job, and being passed over. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not hey want to read further. You only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression. Don’t panic. Instead, focus on the design of your resume as it is the first thing your employer, whether on paper or in electronic form.

The most commonly made mistake in resume design include using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. While these templates provide a quick, easy to follow tools to create your resume, they are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine web sites.

Second most commonly made mistake in resume design is inclusion of graphics on the page. Your picture and/or any other graphics are not appropriate for a resume. Including anything outside of plain text will make you stand out in a way that makes the employer think you are not taking yourself seriously as a professional, and this is certainly not the first impression you want to make. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.

The following are basic formatting rules for your resume:

- Limit the length of the resume to two pages.

- The page should have one-inch margins, top and bottom, right and left.

- Use left justification only – as a rule, do not center the content of your resume.

- The font and font size should be consistent.

- The bullet points should be basic – use circles or squares, but never any symbols that may not translate well when you email your resume to your potential employer.

- Headlines can be in all caps; the remaining text should not have special formatting.

- Do not underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link.

- The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.

- Use the Tab key instead of the Space bar to create spaces between the text in your resume.

As a last formatting check point, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends – ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesn’t appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind – when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are seeking.

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Cover letter must haves

Before we discuss what your cover letter should contain in order for the employer to take notice and review your resume, it is critical that understand the importance of having a cover letter. The most commonly made mistake in resume submissions is not including a copy of your cover letter. If you are emailing your resume, the cover letter can be included in the body of the email, or attached (although employers typically prefer no attachments in email submissions). If you are faxing or mailing your resume, assure that the cover letter comes before the resume. Omitting a cover letter from your job application appears unprofessional to your potential employer; having a well-written, personalized cover letter allows the employer to get an insight into who you are, how you communicate and how you present yourself as a professional.

Here are some great tips on composing a winning cover letter to accompany your resume:

- Address the letter to the appropriate person. The biggest mistake professionals make is not taking the time to address their cover letter to the appropriate person, such as the recruiter or the hiring manager. Take the time to address your cover letter to the appropriate person; if the job description does not include a person as a contact, take queue from the text and address the letter to the team listed as the contact. Using generic lines, such as “To whom it may concern,” is not acceptable on a cover letter.

- Know what the goal of your cover letter is and express it clearly, and concisely. Sell yourself in the best possible light; make sure that you sound confident professional in your cover letter. Concentrate on the positives, and highlight those qualifications that make you a perfect candidate for the job. Even if you are insecure in your qualifications, or feel that you may be slightly under-qualified for the job, put your best foot forward.

- Customize your cover letter to the position you are applying for. It is very important that your cover letter address why you are the best person for the job you are seeking. This includes indicating the job title in the cover letter. Generic statements, or statements indicating that you are interested in any open position with the company, make you appear unprofessional and unprepared.

- Answer these two questions: why do you want this particular job, and what can you do for the company? These two questions must be addressed in the cover letter in order to let your employer know that you are serious about your interest, that you have considered the opportunity and how it fits with your professional goals, and what you are willing to bring to the table in order to benefit the organization you want to work for.

- Proof your cover letter. Errors and misspellings leave a poor impression on the employer.

- Close the cover letter by indicating to your potential employer when you intent to follow up on your application. Do not end the letter with a statement that leaves it up to the employer to call you at their convenience. Let the employer know that you want to follow up, when and how you will do so. This confirms your interest in the position, and your professional etiquette. Note, you must follow up when and how you indicated on the cover letter.

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Resume Banks – what they are and how should you use them?

Whether you have decided to change jobs, have been laid off and are looking for a new opportunity, or brand new to the job market, you will likely resolve to search for work on the Internet. There are two ways that you can find job listings on the Internet: company web sites and resume banks. Most companies now have a special area on their web site dedicated to careers, listing available positions from entry level to higher management (executive positions are often filled through head hunters, or personal recruitment). Larger, more sophisticated companies allow you to create a professional profile on their web site and upload your resume. This allows you to apply for an available position of your interest, and it allows company’s recruiting team to match your resume to an available position they are looking to fill. Most companies list contact information for their available positions, so that you can reach out to the appropriate person and submit your resume for consideration. However, unless you are targeting a handful of organizations, consider the amount of time it would take you to review web sites and job postings of all the different companies in your area. You would surely get frustrated and give up. Resume banks, more commonly known as resume databases, are a much better resource for job seekers. These databases have two functions: they allow you to search a comprehensive listing of available jobs from a large number of companies, as well as upload your current resume and make it available for those same employers find you.

Resume databases, such as monster. com or careerbuilder. com, have been successful in building their online presence because they responded to the growing needs of the companies looking for qualified professionals, and to the needs of busy professionals looking to expand their careers. Resume databases should be free – while you will be asked to register on the web site, you should not have to pay any membership fees. You can search through a resume database without having to register on the web site; some sites however may restrict the number of jobs you can view or the amount of details you can get from a job posting.

Registering with a resume bank has its benefits. If you are looking for jobs, you know first hand how time consuming the search can be. Making your resume available to a large number of employers can certainly help speed up the process. When registering, include your contact information and your most up to date resume. Do not post a sample cover letter. Although they are mostly discarded from resume banks, cover letters are meant to be personalized. Posting a generic cover letter along with your resume doesn’t help you get noticed. If you are seeking a new job while still working, you have valid concerns about your employer finding your resume in one of these databases. Some resources recommend leaving off your current job – however, many professionals don’t want to do so, because it is their current job that serves as that step stone to the next point in their careers. We recommend including a title, but leaving off the company name. Also, consider posting a functional resume over chronological one, and make a note in your profile that a detailed resume can be emailed upon request. Make sure that the resume you have posted in the database is current. Do not date your resume – this way it will not appear out dated to employers. Log into the web site once every few months and update your profile and your resume if you are actively looking for a job (always provide most up-to-date contact information, even if you don’t have time to update the complete profile).

Resume banks, or databases, can help you gain access to a large number of job postings, so don’t steer away from them. However, make sure that your profile and your resume are posted on reputable sites, such as monster. com. If you are unsure of the credibility of the site, do some research online and see what others have to say about it. Make sure your profile is up to date. And finally, don’t rely on employers to find you. If you are actively searching for a new job, review the listings regularly and seek out the opportunities that best meet your career objectives.

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Hobbies and interests – is there a place for them on your resume?

There are two types of resumes: chronological and functional. As its name implies, a chronological resume is one that lists your experience and education in order, starting with the most recent jobs or achievements. This type of resume is sometimes also referred to as reverse chronological resume, because the order of the listing starts with your current employment. Functional resumes focus on your qualifications, not your career timeline. This style of the resume highlights what skills you have, rather than where and when you acquired or utilize them. In other words, instead of listing your experiences by your job titles, your resume will contained sections titled by your skills such as verbal and written communication, customer satisfaction, project management, etc.

The functional resume style is recommended for college students seeking internships or their first jobs out of college, for those with no professional experience, those who have not worked for some time, or for career changers. This resume style allows you to reference your hobbies and interests in a way that apply to your career objective only; listing hobbies and interests outside of your career objective is not recommended as it doesn’t promote you as a professional in any way.

Any time you are composing a resume, it is important to keep in mind your career objective. You want to present yourself in a best possible light to your potential employer. Thus, the information on your resume has to answer one question: Why are you the best candidate for the job?

The biggest mistake people make on their resumes is including information that is not related to their professional experience. Facts pertaining to your volunteer positions, community work, interests and hobbies that disclose your race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any personal descriptors that do not directly impact your professional performance must be excluded from your resume. The functional resume does not require you to list names or organizations you have worked or volunteered for; thus, you can list the experience you have acquired there without potentially disclosing any demographic information. Additionally, don’t create a separate section on your resume for hobbies and interests. This is typically seen as amateur, and gives your resume less credibility.

Listing hobbies and interests as they apply to the position you are applying for should be done under specific functional sections. For example, if you are seeking a position in graphic design, and have samples of work that you have done as a hobby, indicate this fact on your resume or in your cover letter. If your hobbies are related to the type of work you are seeking utilize them to your advantage. If you have read books or completed seminars at the community center that are applicable to your job, make a mention of them. Any employer will welcome the opportunity to have you demonstrate the qualifications that make you a perfect candidate for the job.

As a final step, have a friend review your resume, or if you are a college student, seek assistance from a career center at your school. Having another person review your resume will help uncover any items that may raise questions about your experience or education, as well as address if the inclusion of your hobbies and interests works to support your career objective. Perfecting your resume will assure that you show your potential employer that you are the best candidate for the job.

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Including references on your resume

Have you ever wondered what the most commonly used line on a resume is? It would have to be the all time favorite, “References available upon request.” There is an ongoing debate among professionals about the inclusion of references on your resume. Some people will strongly encourage you to include the aforementioned line at the bottom of your resume. In a way, this lets your potential employer know that, if asked, you can name at least a couple of people that think you are a great asset to any company. The opposing side will argue the validity of this line as it doesn’t provide any information with a call to action; we should operate under the assumption that every professional with a resume will be able to provide references from his previous employers. And yet another group of professionals will urge you not only to include this section in your resume, but list anywhere from three to five references, along with their titles, contact numbers and a description of your relationship to them. So, how do you know who to listen to?

We advocate mentioning references no matter what. It is proper resume etiquette that you include a section for your references at the bottom of your resume. This lets your potential employer know that you not only have professional references but you understand that checking references is an important part of your interview process. Additionally, you will want to have an employer request references from you so that you can let your references know they can expect to be contacted. Listing someone as your reference on your resume without letting them know, even if they have previously provided a reference for you, is not a good practice. You don’t want anyone on your reference list to be caught by surprise when they are contacted; you’ll want to let them know about the job you are applying for so that they know which qualifications they should highlight when they are contacted.

If you are posting your resume on job search web sites, such as monster. com, or are working with a head hunter to find the best opportunities for you, it is best that you simple use the line, “References available upon request” at the end of your resume. As indicated above, you will want to let your references know ahead of time if they will be contacted by a potential employer. Listing references on your resume and making it available to multiple employers for review may result in calls to your references by employers you may not have even been in touch with directly. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid this kind of annoyance to people you are using as references. You don’t want to abuse your relationship with them; therefore don’t include a full listing of references on your resume if you are making it available to masses.

If you are sending a resume to a specific employer, after you have been in touch with the hiring manager or someone at the company that will refer you for the job you are interested in, we suggest including references on your resume. This allows your potential employer to have all the information necessary to consider you as a serious candidate for the job. The reference list should include the person’s name, their title and the company they are working for, their relationship to you and their day-time telephone number. As a best practice, before you submit the resume, let your references know about the job opportunity, and that you are passing along their contact information to the potential employer.

If you have already submitted a resume without references, but are going to meet with the employer for an interview, bring a printed copy of your resume that includes a list of references. Following a good interview, employers typically check references – as a best practice, you will want to provide the hiring manager with a one-stop-shop of your qualifications and your references, so you should always bring a printed copy of your cover letter, your resume and references with you to an interview. Your vigilance is sure to make a great impression and bring you one step closer to getting the job you want.

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How to format your resume

Having a well-formatted resume is almost as important as having a well written resume. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not hey want to read further. In addition to key words, what stands out the most about your resume is its format. It is essentially the first thing people will notice, whether on paper or in electronic form.

There are a number of rules you should keep in mind when formatting your resume. First, start with a blank page. Avoid using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. These templates are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine web sites. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.

Ideally, your resume should fit on one page; if you have extensive experience, limit the length of the resume to two pages, but only list experiences and skills relevant to your career objective. Even if you are applying for a job in a creative field, do not insert images or pictures into your resume. If you are looking to show off your creativity, you can do so in a separate portfolio of your work.

The page should have one inch margins, top and bottom, right and left. Use left justification only – as a rule, do not center the content of your resume. The font and font size should be consistent. Your name, and any headlines in your resume should be displayed in the same manner. Typically, the headlines will be in all caps, and in bold. Try not to underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link. Thus, using underlining for emphasis is not appropriate. The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.

When trying to align your resume, be ware of spacing and tabbing. Stay consistent in the way that you are spacing out the information on the page. Use tabs, rather than spaces. You always have to anticipate that the person you are sending your resume to may have a different version of the software than you and thus may not see the exactly the same resume you are sending – it is possible that the margins will reset, paragraphs will shift, bullet points will change shape, etc. This is why you must keep the spacing consistent, as well as try to keep the font and the bullet points as basic as possible.

As a last formatting check point, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends – ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesn’t appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind – when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are looking for.

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Tips on listing publications in your resume

There are many industries where publication of your own work is a critical part of your career development. As professionals in industries that require us to actively publish research studies, essays, articles, textbooks, etc. we have to find ways to account for such publications on our resumes. There are a number of things to consider in respect to publications as you develop your resume.

First, ask yourself how relevant the publications are to your career objective. If you have recent publications that support your career objective, make sure to create a separate heading on your resume and list the publications in reverse chronological order. Follow the AP style when listing your publication, omitting your name from the listing if you were the only author of the text, as that is implied. Do not list publications that do not support your career objective on your resume; while they may be helpful to mention to your potential employer via a cover letter, it is not necessary to take up space on your resume with information that is not directly impacting to your career. If you have submission in progress, or are working on texts that you know will be published at the later time, and they support your qualifications for the job, include them on the resume under a sub-heading of “submitted to (publication name)” or “to be published in (publication name)”. However, if you decide to include works in progress, be certain that they will get published at some point in the future. This is mostly critical for freelance magazine, newspaper or creative writers; do not list every article you have submitted for publication, unless you are certain that it will get published.

If your list of publication is fairly extensive, do not dismiss it completely from your resume. You want your employer to know that you have either published or are in the process of publishing your work. You should create a section within your resume dedicated to publications. Don’t go overboard with the number of publications you list on your resume. List three to five publications, in reverse chronological order in this section. This will give your employer an idea of your work, the publications and audiences you have reached. At the end of your publication listing, include a statement that tells the employer a complete listing of publications can be provided upon request. In your professional summary, or cover letter, you can indicate the total number of publications you’ve had in your career. Create a separate document that includes a complete listing of your publications, following the ASP style. You should make sure that the list of your publication credits other authors properly, as well. You should have a print out of this list, along with your resume that you can bring to any job interview, or forward to the hiring manager at their request. In addition, if asked about your publications, offer your potential employer a copy of any of your articles for their review (although if given the appropriate reference information, your employer, if interested, will be able to locate your publications on their own).

Overall, disclose any information about publications if it supports your career objective and highlights your qualifications for the job. Review the information you list carefully and make sure that names and dates of publications are correct – even minor mistakes can raise questions about your credibility.

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Listing your experience – how far back should you go?

One of the biggest concerns in creating a resume has to do with your professional experience. Before you begin your resume, consider the following questions.

- What is your career objective?

- Are you changing careers or looking for professional growth?

- What experience have you had so far that will help in meeting your professional goals?

To get started in developing your resume, list all of your previous experience, in chronological order, starting with your latest job on a piece of paper. List the dates of employment, your job title, the full company name and the location of your employment. Now, consider just how much experience you have had. In recent years, it has become more commonplace to change jobs more frequently and not build your career in one place. As such, it is possible that someone with ten years of professional experience following college has had over three jobs. That doesn’t seem all that much to include on a resume, right? Consider someone with over 30 years of experience. It is important to set limits on what you include and what you can freely exclude from your resume under your professional experience.

Ideally, your resume should not exceed two pages. Depending on the type of jobs you have held and your responsibilities, having only two pages doesn’t account for a lot of space. The best practice for listing your experiences is not to exceed the most recent five jobs you have held. Again, keep the mind the length of the resume when you are deciding on the number of jobs you will list – if your last five jobs and their accompanying responsibilities will take over one page alone, than consider narrowing the experience down to the three most recent positions you had. Also, consider the time you spent at each organization you have worked for – list up to the last ten to fifteen years of experience. It is not necessary to list every job you’ve ever had to showcase your qualifications and years of experience. If you have a long professional career, focus on the last three to five jobs, but use the profile or summary at the beginning of the resume to highlight the number of years you have spent working, or the number of years you have spent in a certain industry, acquiring specific skills.

When listing your experiences, it is important that you do so in chronological order without skipping any of the jobs you have held. While you may feel that certain jobs are not particularly complimenting to your current career objective you should not avoid listing them on your resume. Work on highlighting the responsibilities that are transferable across various industries. Leaving any unexplained gaps in your work history will raise questions by your potential employer – thus don’t create those gaps on your resume by listing your experience out of order or by skipping jobs you have had. Finally, make sure that your cover letter accounts for any additional qualifications you would like to bring to the attention of your potential employer that you didn’t include on the resume.

Your resume should be concise, well written, and sell you as the best candidate for the job. Just remember that it is quality over quantity that counts.

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Electronic resumes – dos and don’ts

There are two most commonly used methods for resume submission: uploading your resume to the employer’s web site or to the resume bank, and e-mailing your resume to the employer. Faxing or mailing your resume is virtually an obsolete practice, because employers are heavily relying on software programs that scan resumes for key words related to the available positions at their organizations. However, printed resumes are necessary for interviews. Thus, as professionals, we essentially have to have two versions of our resume. While there are numerous resources for composing a more traditionally formatted resume, many professionals are not sure how to create electronic resumes that will get noticed. To help you out, here are some dos and don’ts on

• DO create a plain text file of your resume. While you want certain items on your resume to stand out, you should still have a plain text file (.txt file) of your resume. Most employers request a plain text file, because they can run the file through computer software that scans your resume for key words related to the available jobs. When creating a text file, makes sure that you take the time to format the resume; check spacing and adjust any lines of text that seem out of place.

• DO follow instructions of your potential employer. If the employer is asking that you send your resume in the body of the e-mail, do not send them an attachment. Copy and paste the plain text resume you have created into the body of the email; take the time to check for potential formatting changes. Do not try to format the text by making portions of your resume bold, or change the font size or type. While you may have the email editor which allows for this formatting, your potential employer may only accept plain text messages. Stick to the basics for a successful transmission of your resume.

• DON’T save your resume as a PDF. This file type is typically larger in size, and is not very common for an electronic resume, that your potential employer may completely discard your email.

• DO test your electronic resume by sending it to a few friends via email. Because they may be using different e-mail providers, or have different software than you, they can let you know how your resume appears to them. This will help you in uncovering and correcting potential formatting problems, to assure that your resume is in great form by the time it reaches potential employers.

• DON’T make an assumption that including a resume in the body of an email is the only information you should include in your message to your potential employer. Even if the resume is copied into the email, you still need to let your employer know a little bit more about yourself via a cover letter. However, since you will include your address at the top of the email, feel free to start your resume with a career objective instead of including the heading with your name and address.

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Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae

A resume is a one - to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background. The heading of the resume should contain your name, address and contact information. The body of the resume should be broken into the following sections: career objective, profile/summary, professional experience, achievements, scholastics, and references. Your career objective should be brief, up to two sentences; it should give your potential employers an idea of how you wish to move forward in your professional life. A concise profile or a summary should discuss who you are and how your skills and experience best apply to the job you are interested in. The summary, as well as other parts of your resume, should not contain personal information that discloses ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, living situations, or any other personal information that is not directly related to your career. Personal profile/summary should only contain a few well-written sentences that convey what you can bring to the table in terms of the specific job. Use this section to attract the employer’s attention, but don’t go overboard in trying to be creative – stay professional. Your experience listing should include information on one to five jobs you’ve held, starting with your current or last job, and listing previous positions in chronological order. Your education should include college, graduate and post-graduate work, as well as any courses or professional certifications that are relevant to your career development. Achievements, volunteer positions, publications and interests should only be listed if they apply to your professional work experience References should be listed if requested; best practices suggest not to list generic statements about references being available upon request as this is understood.

Curricula vitae or CV is a collection of documents that describe your education and professional history, focusing on your achievements and showcasing higher level of detail than a resume. People most typically using CV as form of application are seeking positions in education, entrance into graduate and post-graduate programs, or research, and they are required to discuss their professional philosophies. While resumes are often limited to one or two pages, CV is a compilation of documents, has no length limit and extends over at least several pages (most frequently four or five pages, but can be more based on experience and achievements). A CV contains similar information as your resume, but places higher emphasis on education and scholastic accomplishments. Unlike your resume, a CV would contain information on scholarships you may have received, texts or research you have completed and published, grants you received, community and volunteer work, teaching philosophy, etc. You will begin by listing your career objective, in summary form, to showcase your commitment to your goals and actions you are willing to take to achieve them. If you are applying for a teaching position, give a brief outline of your reaching philosophy. Immediately following your goals, list your achievements, highlighting your education first. Here, you can mention your thesis project or dissertation, courses that support your career objective, publications and research (in progress or completed), certifications, studies abroad, languages, etc. Your experience should be included next, focusing on the work history that supports your career objective. This should conclude your CV.

If you are unsure which form of application to use, do the appropriate research and create a resume or CV that best fits the format commonly accepted in your industry.

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Printed resume – dos and don’ts

As professionals, we rely on the Internet to search for jobs and on e-mail to apply for them. We create our resumes and cover letters to fit the electronic format, so it is not a surprise that having to print out a resume can result in concerns and mistakes.

First, let’s discuss when a printed resume is needed. While you are completing numerous job applications online, you still need to have a printed resume to bring on an interview with you. You also must keep in mind that it is very likely your potential employer will print out your resume from a job search web site or from the message you sent expressing your interest in the job. Thus, it is very important that you print out a test copy before submitting your resume to employers to assure the layout is what you want it to be.

As a rule, when printing out your resume, make sure to use white or ivory paper. You can get a stack of resume paper at any office supplies store. You will want your resume to appear as clean and professional. Do not use color paper, or change the color of the font in order to make your resume stand out; your employer will find this unprofessional and childish, which is not the first impression you want to make. If your resume is longer than one page, print out multiple pages. Don’t print on the front and the back of a single page; rather, include headings in your resume file, indicating page numbers and print each page on its own sheet of paper. You should not have any handwriting on your resume; make sure that page numbers are in fact printed along with the rest of the resume content.

Make sure that you let your resume sit on the printer for a few moments before picking it up. This will help you avoid smudging the ink of the paper, especially if you are using an Ink Jet printer. You want to assure that the resume doesn’t have any smudging, stains, or crumpling when you are handing it to your potential employer. First impressions are important – you don’t want yours to be that of someone who is sloppy and careless.

When going in for an interview, you should bring multiple copies of your resume with you. Some people think this is not necessary because your potential employer already has your resume. This is a common misconception. You should always have several copies of your resume printed out and with you when at an interview. Often times, the hiring manager may ask another associate to meet you during the interviewing process, and he/she may not have a copy of your resume. Having extras makes you look professional, prepared and organized, which helps you set your best foot forward. Additionally, it is helpful that the copy of the resume you bring in for an interview has a complete list of references. You can include the references directly on your resume (typically at the bottom of the page), or you can include a separate sheet of paper with the list. The first option is preferred, because it provides the employer with all of the critical information about you in one place. Including your references preempts the employer from asking you for this information; it also shows that you are seriously interested in the available position.

Having a well-formatted, clean and professional resume will only help you make a great first impression, and help you get the job you are truly interested in.

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Top 5 common resume mistakes and how to avoid them

If you have ever tried to write a resume, for yourself or for someone you know, you are already familiar with the fact that this is not an easy task to take on. So much information goes into a resume; from your career objective to the list of your qualifications, your resume should be personal, convey confidence and set your best foot forward in order to impress a potential employer. However, creating a winning resume is not easy. The following are the most commonly made mistakes in resume composition:

• Including references to personal web sites.

You may wonder why referencing a personal web site may be a mistake. What if you have a sample of your graphic design work on your site that you want your potential employer to see? It sounds like a great idea, if the site you are referencing only has work-related information available. Many people make a mistake of including their personal web sites that may contain information potential employers may find irrelevant (and now you are wasting their time) or inappropriate.

As a rule, do not include your personal web site if it contains your photo or other photos that may be viewed as inappropriate, if it contains jokes (even if they are clean jokes), or your blog. In other words, if the site you have is entirely for personal purposes, you are best leaving it off your resume.

Include a link to your web site if the pages are set up to showcase your professional portfolio, a copy of your resume, reference letters, presentations, photos taken for professional use, or your web development skills.

• Using very small fonts in order to get everything to fit on one page.

One of the most common challenges is creating a resume that formats well on a single page. As a rule, a resume should not exceed two pages. However, in recent years, it has become commonplace for professionals to change jobs frequently, and listing all the experiences, in addition to your career objective, education, qualifications and references, can certainly take up a lot of space.

Do not use a small font in order to fit everything into your resume. There is not a single area in your resume that should have a font size of less than 10 points. Keep in mind the font type you are using – stick to the basics, Arial and Times New Roman are your best bet. Instead of changing the font size, review and revise your resume to make your statements more concise.

• Incorrect company/school listings.

The biggest mistake people make, without realizing that they are making it, is not referring to the past employers and/or the school(s) they’ve attended by their full names. Do not use variations of company and school names. Don’t use abbreviations unless they are in fact part of the name. If you have attended New York University, list the complete name, not just NYU (even though it’s commonly known and your employer will likely recognize it). You don’t want to appear sloppy or as if you don’t pay attention to details.

• Lengthy paragraphs describing your experiences.

To list the responsibilities you’ve had in your past professional experience, you are best off using bullet points that begin with action verbs, such as managed, developed, etc. You do not need to use full sentences, and you certainly do not need to use the paragraph format. This makes the information in your resume overwhelming and difficult to review quickly. Make your statements brief and clear; don’t add words to fill in space.

• Typos.

The most important factor in achieving a winning resume is proof reading. You want to put your best foot forward. If your resume contains grammar and spelling problems, your potential employer will get an impression that you are not detail-oriented. It is hard to proof a document you have been working on so closely – use spell check (but be ware, it will not catch everything), ask your friends for help, meet with a career counselor. Do your best to present the most polished resume to your potential employers.

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What to do when you don’t have the experience for the job that you want

People think of their resume as a collective of their education, skills and professional experience. Many employers rely on resumes as form of job applications for the open positions within their organizations. Thus it is very important that you have a well-written resume prepared when searching for jobs.

Creating a resume is not an easy task, even if you are a professional with years of experience and many skills. However, composing a resume when you are looking to completely change careers, or when you are fresh out of school is much more difficult, because you do not have any experience to highlight.

If you are changing careers, and nothing from your past professional experience qualifies you for the new job you are seeking, highlight those qualifications that can be transitioned along the various industries. For example, if you’ve managed people, no matter the type of business, you should highlight this under your experience. Rather than not highlighting your professional experience, even if it is not directly related to the job you are seeking, you should consider writing a professional profile, or summary at the start of your resume. The summary will allow you to address the career change by highlighting your skills and how they relate to your career objective. In addition, this is one situation where it is ok to reference any volunteer or community service work that you have done if it can help promote your qualifications for the job.

If you are fresh out of college, and don’t have much to bring to the table in terms of full time professional experience, don’t get discouraged in creating your resume. Focus on highlighting your skills and your education. Avoid using a professional profile, or summary. Rather, list your career objective and start the resume by listing your education. Make sure to mention any awards or honors you received while in school. Following your education, list all the skills that will qualify you for the job you are seeking. Make sure to mention any courses, such as project management or business communication that you have taken and can apply at work. Instead of listing any experience, title the section “Pre-professional Experience” and divide it into categories applicable to your career objective. For example, instead of say that you spent a summer working at the Gap, use a sub-heading of “Customer Relations” and list any responsibilities where you have provided customer service. Tap into any community service, volunteer, or school club positions you have held in order to highlight your abilities and showcase that you are the best candidate for the job.

Don’t be afraid of not having the right experience, or not having any professional experience to include in a resume. Focus on what you can do rather than what you don’t have the experience in doing and you will have a winning resume.

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What to do with gaps in your work experience

Listing your professional experiences on your resume is a difficult task. There are so many elements to consider: job titles, time frames, key responsibilities, transferable skills, etc. The process becomes even more difficult if you have gaps in your work history. Your potential employer will not have a way of knowing why there is a three and a half year gap in your professional experience just by reviewing your resume, for example. The employer may wonder if you skipped over one of the jobs you held because it doesn’t meet your career objective, or they may assume that you didn’t work at all during the time frame that is unaccounted for on your resume. Any gaps in your employment history will need to be explained in writing; thus, don’t skip any information on purpose.

There are a few general rules about resume gaps:

- Any unaccounted time that is shorter than three months doesn’t need to be explained. Having 60-90 days in between jobs is not too unusual, and often goes unnoticed within a resume. However, any gaps extending beyond three months should be addressed in your cover letter or e-mail. Whether you had personal or professional reasons for not working, the gaps in your employment history need to be explained as you don’t want to leave the employer to make their own assumptions.

- Be honest! We can’t stress this matter enough. If you are honest with your potential employer, you will not have to worry about them checking your references, doing a background check, or surprising you with questions in an interview.

- Don’t exclude months of your employment from the job listing. You are better off explaining the gaps in your resume than trying to cover them up. Honesty is really the best policy when it comes to your resume.

- If you have held jobs that are not applicable to your career objective, list them on your resume anyway. Rather than create gaps in your resume, explain why you held jobs outside of your field in your cover letter or in an email to your potential employer. Again, whether the reasons are personal or professional, explain yourself honestly and don’t leave room for assumptions on the part of your potential employer.

- Regardless of the reasons for the gaps in your professional history, it is important that the tone in your cover letter and your resume remains positive. Do not sound apologetic – life happens and you don’t need to be sorry for taking time off of work. Be positive, and show your potential employer that you never lost focus on your career.

While we all agree that life takes unexpected turns and respect that there will be circumstances that create gaps in our resumes, we can always consider the following actions in order to stay competitive within our field:

- Apply our time and experience to volunteer positions, community projects, and consulting or freelance work.

- Take a class at a community college or at the community center that improves your work-related skills and allows you to interact with people with similar professional backgrounds.

- Read about the new developments in your field. Get a subscription to a professional publication/magazine, or get the newly published books that discuss changes or improvements in your profession.

Most of all, be honest and stay positive. You can’t change your work history, so do your best to show your employer you are a perfect candidate for the job by focusing on your experience and your education, highlighting your achievements and your qualifications.

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Switching Jobs – How to adapt your resume to your new career choice

Changing jobs has to be one of the more difficult decisions a person can make; staying in the work environment we are used to can sometimes be easier than having to embrace uncertainty, and having to prove your professional qualifications and credibility in a new workplace. The decision for change becomes that much more difficult if the new job you want means changing your career. While you will face a challenge in trying to get the job that meets your new career objectives, writing your resume should not be one of them.

On the Internet alone, there are numerous resources for career changers. From helping you decide which career you are best suited for to providing helpful advice on how to succeed in your new job, you will find an overwhelming amount of resources to help you in your new journey. While most of the information you find will be helpful, be careful about the sources you utilize in order to put together the most persuasive resume for your new career choice.

There are really two basic elements to successfully creating a resume for a career changer: research and transferable skills. Most people put a lot of thought into changing careers. They consider their families, their living and financial situations, their competitive advantage in the new field, etc. After you convince yourself that changing careers is the right thing to do, you will have to convince your potential employers to give you the job you are seeking. To do so, you have to do your research. Demonstrate to your employer that you have an extensive knowledge of the industry, even if you don’t have the accompanying experience. Before you begin your new career, make sure that you understand what professional paths are available for you, and determine what your ultimate goal is. This will help you form the career objective for your resume. Additional, make sure to do your research on the company you are interested in, as well as their competition (if you are interested in non-profit organizations, make sure to brush up on other organizations with similar missions); if invited for an interview, you will want to appear very knowledgeable not only about their company, but about the industry as a whole. You will have to convince your potential employer that you the best person for the job, better than the candidates with experience – to do that, you have to showcase not only your enthusiasm for the opportunity, but your eagerness to learn and your knowledge about the field.

Transferable skills, those skills that can be utilized in numerous fields, are also a key to a successful career change. Consider your qualifications to date. What experience have you acquired that can be transferred across industries? Transferable skills include verbal and written communication, people management, customer relations, organization and project management, development of new processes, generation of new ideas or concepts, etc. Such skills can be adapted to all organizations, and you should utilize them to showcase your qualifications for the job you are seeking. For example, if you would like to ditch the 9-to-5 desk job for a hectic, unpredictable life of a high school teacher, let your potential employer know that your previous experience in leading by motivation makes you a perfect candidate for the job (even if that marketing project you managed has nothing to do with teaching English composition). Making a list of all your professional experiences and the qualifications needed for the job you are seeking will help you in determining which skills are transferable to your new career. Once you define your transferable skills, use a functional resume to assure most (if not all) of the qualifications needed for the new job are met in your resume.

In addition to your resume, use your cover letter or email to let your potential employer know why you are changing careers, and that your new interest is not a passing one. Make sure that your resume reflects your newfound interest in a genuine and professional manner, and you are sure to have a successful career change.

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Three things to make your resume unique

A resume is a one - to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background. To stand apart from other candidates, you should consider the information in your resume carefully and make sure that it is personal to you. Here are three tips on making your resume unique to you:

1. Customize your career objective. Think of your whole resume as a sales tool; your career objective is your opening statement. You want your employer to know what you want, not just restate what other people want. State your commitment to your career goal. If you are unsure of what you want, how is your employer to believe that you really want the job at their organization and you are not just applying because you want to get out of your current work environment? Don’t be afraid to state what you want from a job and from an organization. While you want to state your commitment, you also want to show that you are willing to take action to achieve your goal. Indicate what direction or action you are willing to take in order to accomplish your career objective. Lastly, be specific about what you are looking for in a work situation. While you can say that you are looking for a “challenging” environment, this doesn’t mean anything to your employer, as people define challenges in various ways. Avoid using generic and broad terms. Simply state what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it.

2. Highlight the best elements of your experience. This is the most commonly missed aspect of writing a resume. The entire professional experience section on your resume is unique to you. Take advantage of that. Use power words to list your responsibilities, and make sure that you have a winning attitude in each of statement. Focus on those responsibilities that best describe the skills you acquired while in each job that make you the most qualified candidate for the position you are seeking. Quantify your responsibilities when possible to showcase to your potential employer that you are drive by results and are capable of exceeding goals. Don’t be shy about promoting your qualifications – you earned them with your hard work and dedication.

3. Personalize your cover letter. The biggest mistake professionals make is not spending any time on their cover letter. Your cover letter should receive the same attention as your resume as they go hand-in-hand. Address your cover letter to the appropriate person at the company (contact info is typically listed in the job description). Make sure to mention what position you are applying for, and demonstrate how the information in your resume aligns well with the job requirements. Your cover letter also allows you to address any information in your resume that may raise questions – take the time to do so, as you don’t want your resume discarded because you chose not to create a personalized cover letter. Overall make sure that your cover letter supports your resume and presents you as the most qualified candidate for the job.

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Helpful tips for emailing your resume

In order to seek out and apply for the jobs you are interested in, you will most likely post your profile and resume on a job search web site, such as monster. com or hotjobs. com. These search engines allow you to upload your resume in a Microsoft Word or text file format, or create one using their forms.

Outside of the job search web sites, e-mailing your resume as form of application has become commonplace. However, each employer or headhunter has different rules on the file they will accept via e-mail. Most companies will accept an attachment in Microsoft Word – this is why you have to be conscious of the font type and size, as well as margins you are using when composing your resume. If a company is requesting a text file, you should follow these steps to convert your Microsoft Word document into a text resume:

- Select File, Save As

- Name the file; as a best practice, use your name as the file name, and use underscores as spaces

- Under Format, select Text Only

- Select Save.

Now that you have converted your file to a text file, make sure to open it and review how the spaces, tabs, and bullet points have transferred over. You may need to do some edits in order to format the resume to fit the file type. Note that the plain text file doesn’t allow for bolding, italicizing or underlining. Make sure that all your text is left justified and that the spacing is correct.

If an employer asks that you include your resume in the body of an email, treat this as a text file when formatting. Copy and paste your whole resume in an email. Keep the font styles basic; use Arial or Times New Roman fonts and keep the size at 10 or 12 points. Adjust all the spacing and bullet points as appropriate. A good rule to follow is to keep the email simple – avoid bolding or italicizing text since you don’t really know the type of email software your recipient is using or if the accept HTML or text emails only.

If you are sending your resume as an attachment, format the body of your email as a cover letter. At the top of the email, include your name and address, as well as the address of your recipient. Typically, the address can be found either on the job listing or at the company’s web site. If you are sending the resume in the body of the email, follow the same guidelines in terms of the email content. Don’t make an assumption that including a resume in the body of an email is the only information you should include in your message to your potential employer. Even if the resume is copied into the email, you still need to let your employer know a little bit more about yourself via a cover letter. However, since you will include your address at the top of the email, feel free to start your resume with a career objective instead of including the heading with your name and address.

Much like proofing is critical in perfecting your resume, testing how your resume is displayed in a body of an email or how it opens as an attachment via another computer is important. Rally your friends or family for help, and send them sample emails with your resume included in the body of the message or as an attachment. This will provide a great opportunity for you to assure that your resume is reaching your potential employers in the format that is clean and professional.

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