6 Resume Must-Haves
It's three months after the start of the New Year - how's that "get a new job" resolution coming along? If you haven't made much headway because the idea of making cold calls and pounding the pavement is too daunting, start small: with your resume. These six points should absolutely be included in your resume, whether you're looking for your dream job, or just a temporary position. (This widely watched indicator of economic well-being also directly influences the market. Find out more in What You Need To Know About The Employment Report.)
- Contact Information
Calling Captain Obvious, right?! But you would be surprised at how often something as simple as correct contact information can be left off a resume. Make sure you provide every reliable (that's the key here) way for a potential employer to contact you: phone, email and physical mailing address.
But don't stop there. Include your other digital IDs, such as your Twitter account name, website and any Facebook pages that pertain to your craft. Remember, though, that whatever information you provide is also your implicit invitation for a potential employer to check you out diligently. (Find out how professional resume writers can help you land a coveted career, in Resume Scribes Seal The Deal.)
View your resume as a marketing piece – you're trying to sell yourself to a potential employer. And what most employers are buying is a worker with the experience necessary to jump in and contribute from day one. Use your resume as a tool of showcasing your relevant (and that's an important word here!) experience. Instead of sharing all of your accomplishments and interests, list the experience you have that the employer is looking for, even if it's not something that was a major part of your job description.
For example, if you are looking for a management position but you have not, up until this point, held a similar job, highlight the managing work you have done, such as voluntarily coordinating peer groups in your department or overseeing projects for a superior from initial concept to completion. (The Peace Corps and AmeriCorps offer low pay, but they offer higher benefits down the road. Find out more, in Are The Volunteer Corps Right For You?)
Many human resource staffers will automatically scan your resume or use software or a digital database to check for certain keywords that relate to the position for which they are hiring. If you are familiar with the position and/or work within the same industry, you may know important words to use. If you're not sure what keywords an employer will be looking for, review similar job postings, talk to friends who hold that position or work within the industry, etc.
No, not just your phone number. In order to attract the attention of a potential employer, it's going to help if you can provide some bottom-line data to quantify what you have accomplished in the past. Consider the difference between these two examples:
- "managed staff and department budget"
- "oversaw 14 direct employees and 28 indirect employees in three different office locations; created and managed $1.5 million budget and reduced department operating expenses by 7% over two years"
Most every job requires a certain set of skills. Don't leave a potential employer wondering if you have at least the basic skills required for the position. For example if you are applying for a graphic designer position, you should list all design-related skills you possess right up front, such as proficiency with Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Professional etc. If you have earned certification or a professional designation related to technical skills, include that as well. (If you want to switch careers, you may not have to go back to school to do it. Learn more in Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree.)
This is your time to shine. Don't gloss over your past jobs with generic titles. Try to be descriptive while also being accurate. For example instead of simply listing "PR Assistant," which leaves a lot to the imagination, get more detailed by listing "Media Liaison, In-House Writer and Event Coordinator." If you're not sure what title to put down start by listing all of the duties you regularly are responsible for, and search for how other companies describe similar positions.
Your resume can be your "golden ticket" to getting through to the next round in the hiring process. Take your time to create a resume that demonstrates you understand the hiring company's needs, and most accurately describes your relevant background and achievements. Be sure to tweak each resume you send out to the position you're seeking and the company you are applying for. Time spent on your resume is literally time well spent.