Compiling the Necessary Information to Include on Your Resume (page 3)
PUTTING TOGETHER AN awesome resume is an extremely important part of the overall job-search process. This short document needs to capture the attention of an employer quickly and then demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, that you're a qualified candidate for the job. Your resume needs to summarize who you are, what you know, what skills you have, what you've already accomplished professionally; list your career goals; and demonstrate why you should be hired.
Some people think a resume can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, because it's often only one page and typically uses bulleted points or sentence fragments. A resume is actually a rather complex document to create, however, because it has to convey key information in a limited amount of space. Anyone who doesn't invest the necessary time and energy to write an outstanding resume will most likely have a difficult time landing a job. When it comes to writing a resume, there are simply no shortcuts.
What a resume says is as important as how it's said and how the overall document looks from a visual standpoint. This chapter helps you determine what information you need to include in your resume. Later, once you know what needs to be said, this book will help you determine the best way to convey that information. Later chapters also help you choose the best resume format to meet your individual needs, select the best possible wording, and then format your resume so that it looks professional.
For now, don't worry about specific wording, resume format, or anything else. Simply focus on what information you believe needs to be conveyed within your resume. The following questions will help you summarize your skills, educational background, professional accomplishments, past work experience, career objectives, and other information you need to tell a potential employer.
"Remember to ask yourself why your potential employer needs you specifically. What can you bring to the job that no one else can? Make sure to emphasize your best skills and accomplishments that come naturally and make you unique."
Once you gather this information, you will later condense it, choose what's important, and decide the best way to convey it. As you answer the questions in this chapter, however, use complete sentences and spend whatever time is necessary to gather the specific information requested, such as dates or other pieces of information that will be pertinent later when actually creating your resume.
Be brutally honest with yourself as you respond to these questions. With accurate information, you will better determine what types of job opportunities to pursue, evaluate the offers you receive, and ultimately choose the best career path to follow.
Gathering Your Information
No matter what resume format you decide to adopt, the basic information included will be the same. As described in Chapter 1, typically, a resume includes the following sections:
- Contact Information
- Job Objectives
- Accreditations and Licenses
- Your Skills
- Previous Work and Employment Experience
- Professional Affiliations
- A History of Your Military Service (if applicable)
- Professional References
- Personal Information
The questions you're about to answer in the rest of this chapter will help you determine what information to place within each of these sections. If individual questions don't apply to you, skip them; otherwise, include as much specific information as possible.
One of the worst mistakes you can make as a job applicant is lying on your resume. These days, almost all employers check resumes and references before offering someone a job. If an employer discovers that you weren't 100% honest, the chances that you will receive an offer are minute. Your resume should be used to help you land jobs you're qualified for, not as a tool to convey lies or misinformation to a potential employer. Also, be forewarned that your new boss will expect you to utilize all the skills you list on your resume. Wouldn't it be more embarrassing if you couldn't perform the duties of your job?
Not only will completing this questionnaire help you create your resume, it will also help you prepare for your interviews and write your cover letters. You're about to summarize all of the reasons why a potential employer should hire you and identify reasons why it might not.
"Don't neglect seemingly unrelated job experience. You can spin most skills into the skills required for the position you seek. For example, your skills as a babysitter require you to juggle multiple tasks at once, negotiate and settle tough and stubborn conflict, and manage your time effectively. These skills all make you an invaluable job candidate, no matter what job you are applying for!"
Even if you ultimately choose to hire a professional resume writer or resume-preparation service to write your resume, you will have to supply the majority of this information. The same holds true if you purchase off-the-shelf resume-writing software for your computer.
Although it's not necessary to include an e-mail address on a resume, it's strongly recommended for several reasons. First, it's often easier for a potential employer to contact you via e-mail. Second, listing an e-mail address on your resume demonstrates that you're computer literate, something most employers require. Listing a personal website also showcases your computer skills and provides potential employers with an additional way of learning more about you. Before releasing the URL, make sure your site or homepage is free of inappropriate or possibly damaging material.
If you don't yet have an e-mail address, consider joining one of the popular online services, such as America Online (www.aol.com), or signing up with a local Internet service provider. Many companies, such as Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com), Hotmail (www.hotmail.com), and Juno (www.juno.com), offer free personal and private e-mail accounts that can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet.
Write a short description of the job you're seeking. Be sure to include as much information as possible about how you can use your skills to the employer's benefit. Later, you will condense this answer into one short sentence.
On your actual resume, you probably don't want to list your GPA or your class ranking, unless you graduated in the very top of your class. For now, however, include the information within this questionnaire. While in school, if you received any specific honors or awards, consider listing them within your resume, especially if they relate to the job for which you're applying.
Personal Skills and Abilities
Your personal skill set (the combination of skills you possess) is something that differentiates you from everyone else. Skills that are marketable in the workplace aren't always taught in school, however.
Your ability to manage people, stay cool under pressure, remain organized, use Internet resources or software applications (such as Microsoft Office), speak in public, communicate well in writing, communicate in multiple languages, or perform research are all examples of marketable skills.
"When writing your resume, be sure to sell yourself—use phrases like responsible for, initiated, strategy execution, international, oversee. Your potential employers need to see that you are a really proactive person. Every employer wants someone who will take the initiative and get results."
—ANDREW, SALES DIRECTOR
When reading job descriptions or help-wanted ads, pay careful attention to the wording used to describe the employer's requirements. As you customize your resume for a specific employer, coordinate what the employer is looking for with your own qualifications as closely as possible. Try to use the wording provided by the employer within the ad or job description.
Be sure to list all of your marketable skills, whether you believe they're unique or not. For each of these skills, be prepared to describe how you've used them successfully in the workplace.
Complete these employment-related questions for all of your previous employers, including part-time or summer jobs held while in school, as well as temp jobs, internships, and volunteer work.
When it comes time to communicate with potential employers, you probably won't want to reveal your past earning history. You will want this information available to you for reference, however, when you begin negotiating your future salary, benefits, and overall compensation package.
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