Get your resume in shape
Every professional resume is unique and requires careful planning as well as strategy to make sure that it presents the best virtues of a job applicant.
And because the professional resume is at the beginning of every job search, it’s important to know how to put together a successful one. Resume builders can certainly help, as they provide step-by-step guidance as it’s being written.
Making a resume that catches the attention of a recruiter or potential employer is hard enough. But creating a professional resume that successfully sells a jobseeker to a company - that’s much harder.
Before writing a professional resume, there are several aspects to take into account. No two resumes are the same, but there are some general professional resume guidelines that will help improve a jobseeker’s chances of landing an interview.
The first bit of advice is to perform a thorough background assessment before actually creating a professional resume. Making a professional resume successful requires a job applicant to take inventory of his or her skills and work experience beforehand to see what they have to offer.
The suggested questions below will help a jobseeker articulate their strengths before writing a professional resume. This is important not just for the resume itself, but for the interview, during which some of these same questions may come up again.
Begin by making a list of previous positions and companies. Note down as well any volunteer experience, internships, or special training. Also record any degrees held as well as the institutions where they were earned. These are the essentials of any professional resume.
Jobseekers should then ask themselves a series of questions about their background to make writing a professional resume easier. These might include questions like:
After the background assessment has been completed, the next step is to think about resume formats. This doesn’t just mean fonts, colors, and general layout, though.
Generally, there are 3 types of resume formats to choose from. Each has its strengths, depending on a candidate’s background and level of experience.
The reverse-chronological resume is the most classic resume style. It focuses on latest work experience first and then works backwards, showing the lineal progression from one job to the next. If a jobseeker has changed jobs a lot throughout their career, this might not be the best option.
Next is the functional resume. This type of resume format focuses on achievements.There is less emphasis on overall progression and more on the results achieved. This type of resume is recommended for jobseekers with large gaps in their work history as it emphasizes results and not linear progress.
Finally, there’s the combination resume. This resume format blends both and emphasizes progression, while highlighting an applicant’s skills. This type of resume is ideal for individuals looking to break into a different industry or applicants with extensive experience
Choosing the correct resume format is crucial to a job search. The wrong choice can be the difference between a call-back or getting rejected.
Though every professional resume is unique, there are 3 sections that every employer looks for when reviewing a resume.
SUMMARY OR OBJECTIVE
Both the summary and the objective statement are normally the first section on a professional resume. They give a prospective employer an overview of who a candidate is and what the kind of employment they are looking for.
The objective tells a prospective employer about the job an applicant is seeking. Whereas the summary statement gives a brief overview of an applicant’s overall career trajectory until the present moment. Including a summary statement is ideal for jobseekers who have a long career full of achievements.
The education section lists completed formal education and training. This isn’t limited to just schools and universities, but also includes vocational schools and any special diplomas or certifications that have been earned.
While the education section may be vital for a student resume, it’s also important for more experienced jobseekers. An employer wants to make sure that a candidate has the necessary education to do their job.
This section is perhaps the most important for any professional resume. The work experience section details a candidate’s work history. This includes the companies worked for, job responsibilities, and dates of employment.
The work experience segment of a professional resume is critical as it tells a potential employer if a candidate has the relevant work experience to fill a given position.
As a general rule, references should never be sent with a professional resume. When someone trusts a candidate with their personal contact information to serve as a reference, this information should not be readily shared with everyone.
Omit references when sending a professional resume for the first time. In most cases, they will be requested later, at which time they can be sent.
With all the basics in line - the background assessment, the resume format, and the 4 general sections - a jobseeker is ready to begin writing the perfect professional resume. Jobseekers should make sure to keep the following tips in mind as they begin to write.
Given the volume of resumes they receive, most companies nowadays have digitized their hiring processes. This is done by filtering resumes through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) enabled software that sorts candidates based on the keywords used on the original job posting.
This means that if the job posting has the keyword “sales development” or “organic growth,” a professional resume that’s missing these keywords can be easily eliminated by ATS software as they will be found to not fit the requirements.
Jobseekers should study the job posting carefully, making sure to repeat every keyword throughout a professional resume. Otherwise, the risk of elimination is high, especially at large companies.
Most professional resumes should not exceed 1 single A4 page in length. Most jobseekers can condense their work experience and qualifications into 1 page.
However, jobseekers who have extensive experience and qualifications such as executives and academics can extend their resume to 2 pages if need be.
A cover letter is a document that tells an employer why an applicant should be hired. It normally accompanies a professional resume when it is sent and serves to introduce the jobseeker to the employer.
A well-written cover letter is also the opportunity for a jobseeker to tell an employer more about their previous work experience and background - before the interview. This serves to give a company an idea as to what a candidate has to offer as well as to get more information about their background.
A cover letter is normally sent along with a professional resume. Because they complement each other, a jobseeker shouldn’t just repeat what’s found in their professional resume.
Instead, a jobseeker should expand on what an employer can already find in their professional resume and provide more details to pique interest.
Jobseekers don’t need to start from scratch whenever they start a job search. But a strategic layout and attractive formatting are also essential parts of building a professional resume.
Looking for a professional resume template that best fits a candidate’s background and skills might be a good place to start. The right resume template can help push a potential employer from indecision to making that call for an interview.
Choosing the right professional resume template can make a huge difference in a jobseeker’s chances.
Creating a professional resume is hard work and requires jobseekers to constantly evaluate their choices. Today’s job market also demands that jobseekers be creative and that they know how to market their abilities.
Difficult as it is, the payoff makes all the difference: landing that dream job.