July 19, 2018

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Here's the Important Stuff to Writing a Resume

Take out the objective. Your objective is always to get a job. Employers "get that" when they receive your resume. Also, they don't really care what your objective is. Their objective is to hire someone who is qualified to do the job they need to fill. The sooner you cut to the chase about why you're the perfect person for them, the better.

Put in a career summary. Think of this as the 'tell me about yourself" section, but in writing. This summary should describe what makes you unique from every other person who has a similar background as you. I will admit, these are the hardest to write, and are usually the last thing to write. Sometimes I'll even come back to it the next day after I've had a chance to let the client's background percolate in my head a bit. Do NOT use vague terms like "good time management skills" or "works well under pressure" or my all time fave: "team player." YUCK! First, everyone puts those in their resume, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone-I've seen a lot of resumes. Second, there are very few people who would not use those terms to describe themselves. For the most part, everyone's had to manage their time, finish something under a deadline or work with others. For the most part, they probably did it well. What you SHOULD talk about is what you do exceptionally well. Think back to the people you work with, and how would you distinguish your skillsets from theirs? I have described a marketing manager as tenacious because when I was interviewing her to complete her resume and I heard her describe how she worked, that was the impression I got-she was like a dog with a bone and didn't give up until her project succeeded; and succeed it always did. She was also used to working with no marketing budget and still raising revenue. In this economy-that's an incredible skill to have. What makes you stand out from the crowd?

List your jobs. For most people, there isn't a need for a functional resume (one that highlights skillsets rather than job listings). They drive recruiters and some HR Directors crazy. You might want to have one in your back pocket in case someone prefers to see it, but for the most part this can be accomplished by highlighting your skills as subheadings under the standard company, title, date banner. There is a long-standing debate about including months and years on a resume vs. just months. In most cases, you should include months on your resume to show continuous employment. Hiring managers/HR Directors understand if you were laid off from a job and it took you up to a year to find another job, especially factoring in your specific industry and location in the country. If you took classes during that time or did volunteer work-include it on the resume to show that you didn't just lay in bed eating bon-bons all day.

If you purposefully took a break, either due to medical reasons or family reasons, you should indicate that in your resume and cover letter. The important point to get across is that the situation is complete. That if it was a family or a medical condition, that you're fully recovered and ready for work, that there's no chance of it interfering with your work situation to the same extent that required you to take a break. You can simply list on the resume Family Commitments, and the date. In the cover letter you can go into a little more detail about if it was personal surgery and recovery time, or taking care of a family member. Whatever it is, make sure you close the loop and state that the situation is completely under control and will in no way interfere with your ability to do your job. It's better to call it out, than leave it up to the imagination of the hiring manager. You won't like what they imagine.

Under your jobs, list your education. The only reason you'd put your education at the top is if you recently graduated from college or if you went back to school for a degree and you're looking for your first job since receiving that degree. If you're going for your first job out of school-it's appropriate to list your GPA in your major and your GPA overall if they're both good. Ideally, your GPA in your major is your biggest selling point. If your overall GPA isn't strong (and by strong I mean over a 3.0) leave it off. It's also appropriate to list relevant coursework on the resume-again, especially if you're a recent grad or if you went back to school for something that you don't have work experience in.

As an aside. You should ALWAYS take every opportunity to gain relevant work experience while you're in school. I don't care if it's as a volunteer with an organization, an internship, a co-op assignment, part time job. Anything. Take it. You're much less of a gamble as a new hire if you have some work experience to hang your hat on.

- Melanie Szlucha

President, Red, Inc.

Job Interviewing, Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching and Career Presentations

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