Think of your résumé, not as a biography, but as a marketing tool. To avoid including a lot of data that you may be very proud of but that does not sell your suitability for this particular position, try to emotionally separate yourself from the résumé writing process. Imagine what an ad agency would choose to include and what they would choose to leave out. Your résumé should clearly show your employment goal and give supporting arguments in a powerful and easily understood way, and leave out most of the rest.
RÉSUMÉ FORMATS - The use of one of a couple of a traditional résumé formats will make it easier for the hiring official to quickly read (or visually scan) and come away with enough good reasons to consider you further.
Because your most resent employment is typically the most important, an Inverse Chronological résumé puts that information right up front and therefore is used most frequently. It will show each employers’ name, dates of employment, your last title there, your primary duties and your major accomplishments.
Some reasons to opt for a Functional résumé, which lists your skills and accomplishments first and then lists only your former employers’ names, your titles and the periods of employment; are the following: :
- a need to play down the subject’s age,
- to disguise a job-hopping pattern,
to show transferable skills to support a change of careers,
to disguise a lack of steady advancement or consistent career path.
With either format, your résumé should include complete contact information, your educational background (unless by omitting your education you avoid calling attention to your lack of a degree), related honors and certifications and, at least, the most recent ten years of professional experience. Your résumé should be no longer than two pages, preferably one, with enough white space for an interviewer to be able to make notes in the margins.
A "Profile/ Accomplishment/ Keyword" format is sometimes used when catering to the résumé-scanning software that automatically screens résumés and fills in databases from the data and keywords found in the résumé. This type of software has gotten pretty sophisticated and can handle most résumés but may still have difficulty processing overly fancy formats and deciphering résumés made up of tables, floating text boxes, graphics and embedded images.
Omit personal information that is unrelated to the job you are applying for. Omit marital status, age, height, weight, number of kids, social organizations, references, salary, reason for leaving, religious organizations, etc. There is also no need to waste a résumé line advising that, ”References can be provided”.
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVES. Your résumé should present your professional background in the most positive manner, and answer questions without raising unnecessary new ones. Use strong, confident language to describe your achievements, not just by describing a feature you bring but also spell out the benefit the new employer can extrapolate receiving. For example, "As the chief manufacturing engineer, I redesigned our assembly line process, cutting production time by 20 percent, increasing annual profits by $2.3 million." Or, "As senior account supervisor, brought in seven new clients and increased existing client business by 25 percent. These efforts boosted the agency's profitability by more than 15 percent over the previous year."
Use strong action words such as directed, established, created, designed, earned, saved, produced, took control, accomplished, lead, developed, installed and implemented. For job pursuits within most for-profit industry, weaker words to avoid are administered, documented, liaison, participated, attempted, tried, requested, and coordinated.
For the benefit of the résumé scanning software, show keywords in all their common forms, avoiding proprietary nomenclature, unexplained acronyms and uncommon job titles (give more commonly used titles in parenthesis).
PERFECTION COUNTS. Neatness counts and typographical errors, poor spelling and faulty grammar are unacceptable It may take several drafts to turn your résumé into your ideal marketing tool. Proofread it carefully. Have someone else proofread it, too. Get another opinion on its content and presentation. Now make sure it answers "yes" to the following important questions:
- Does it effectively describe your background?
- Does it highlight your strong points and accomplishments?
- Is it honest and accurate?
- Is it complete, yet concise?
- Is the format clean and attractive?
- Is it a successful marketing piece?
- Does it focus on your value to your previous employers?
- Does it make you stand out from the crowd?