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Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to format your resume

Having a well-formatted resume is almost as important as having a well written resume. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not hey want to read further. In addition to key words, what stands out the most about your resume is its format. It is essentially the first thing people will notice, whether on paper or in electronic form.

There are a number of rules you should keep in mind when formatting your resume. First, start with a blank page. Avoid using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. These templates are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine web sites. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.

Ideally, your resume should fit on one page; if you have extensive experience, limit the length of the resume to two pages, but only list experiences and skills relevant to your career objective. Even if you are applying for a job in a creative field, do not insert images or pictures into your resume. If you are looking to show off your creativity, you can do so in a separate portfolio of your work.

The page should have one inch margins, top and bottom, right and left. Use left justification only ?as a rule, do not center the content of your resume. The font and font size should be consistent. Your name, and any headlines in your resume should be displayed in the same manner. Typically, the headlines will be in all caps, and in bold. Try not to underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link. Thus, using underlining for emphasis is not appropriate. The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.

When trying to align your resume, be ware of spacing and tabbing. Stay consistent in the way that you are spacing out the information on the page. Use tabs, rather than spaces. You always have to anticipate that the person you are sending your resume to may have a different version of the software than you and thus may not see the exactly the same resume you are sending ?it is possible that the margins will reset, paragraphs will shift, bullet points will change shape, etc. This is why you must keep the spacing consistent, as well as try to keep the font and the bullet points as basic as possible.

As a last formatting check point, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends ?ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesnꊰ appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind ?when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are looking for.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is a resume and why is it so important?

A resume is a one- to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background. The heading of the resume should contain your name, address and contact information. The body of the resume should be broken into the following sections: career objective, profile/summary, professional experience, achievements, scholastics, and references.  Your career objective should be brief, up to two sentences; it should give your potential employers an idea of how you wish to move forward in your professional life. A concise profile or a summary should discuss who you are and how your skills and experience best apply to the job you are interested in. The summary, as well as other parts of your resume, should not contain personal information that discloses ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, living situations, or any other personal information that is not directly related to your career. Personal profile/summary should only contain a few well-written sentences that convey what you can bring to the table in terms of the specific job. Use this section to attract the employer's attention, but don't go overboard in trying to be creative ? stay professional.  Your experience listing should include information on one to five jobs you're held, starting with your current or last job, and listing previous positions in chronological order.

The listing should include the date range of your employment, name of the companies or person(s) you have worked for, and the city and state where the place of employment is located (full address of employment is not necessary). List your title and your main responsibilities, with emphasis on duties that are applicable to the type of work you are seeking.  Your education should include college, graduate and post-graduate work, as well as any courses or professional certifications that are relevant to your career development. Achievements, volunteer positions, publications and interests should only be listed if they apply to your professional work experience References should be listed if requested; best practices suggest not to list generic statements about references being available upon request as this is understood.

In the competitive, internet-driven world of job searches, your resume represents you to potential employers. It serves as your tool to attract attention, get the interview and/or get a job. A great resume will make you stand out from other candidates by showcasing your aptitudes. Think of your resume as your sales pitch ?you need to sell yourself in the best possible way. Invest some time and research into developing your resume. You will want to make sure that your resume is error free ?double check your grammar and spelling, make sure that all company and school names and cities are spelled properly. A resume containing errors, no matter how minimal, will give your potential employer an impression that you do not have attention to detail, that you don't take time to double check your work, and that you are a poor communicator. Additionally, make sure that your resume is formatted well. Stick to basic fonts, like Arial and Times New Roman.  Keep the font size and color standard; don't use large fonts or multi-colors in your resume. Don't go overboard with bold, italicized, or large-cap text. Keep your format consistent and make sure that the resume looks great when viewed online as well as when printed out. Keep your resume to one or two pages ? any additional pages give an impression that you either don't know how to concisely summarize your education and experience, or that you are listing unnecessary information for the sake of taking up space. If you're never written a resume before, reference books, Internet resources or seek assistance from a professional resume writing service.  A well-written resume can make a difference between being stuck at your current job and getting an interview to land the job of your dreams.

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