Writing a Résumé That Will Get Results

Looking for a job? You’re not alone, and in this economy your résumé could make or break your job search. Regardless of where you are in your career or job search, you can still put together a résumé that can help you get noticed.

The purpose of a résumé is to show potential employers your relevant experience and capabilities. A résumé is generally made up of four different sections: contact information, work history, education history and other experience. Another common component is an objective — a short written statement placed below the contact information that explains to potential employers what position you’re applying for and why.

Tailor to the Job Description

The first thing to do is tailor the content to meet the requirements for the job. The best way to do this is to study the job posting and research the company. A résumé is less about who you are and more about showing how well you’ll fit the company.

Don’t be afraid to break out of the mold when it comes to organizing a résumé. The work history and education sections don’t have to be formatted chronologically. Another technique is to list the most relevant or impressive experience first. This could be particularly useful if you don’t have a ton of experience to share — emphasize quality rather than quantity. You could list a completed internship, any relevant classes, projects or special skills. For example, if your computer skills are excellent and relevant, consider listing those first.

Don’t forget that you can include any relevant extracurricular activities, volunteer work and any honors or awards you have received.

Formatting

Figuring out the proper format for a résumé is challenging. While you have the freedom to format however you’d like, especially if you are applying to creative-focused jobs, there are some basics you can start with. Put your name in a larger font size and use horizontal lines to separate your contact information (name, address, phone number and email address) from the body of your résumé. This will give the résumé a more professional look at first glance.

Also make your educational and work experience easy-to-read. Leave the super-stylized fonts for concert fliers and stick with the classics such as Times New Roman or Arial fonts at 11- or 12-point size. Use bullet points to guide the eye to your accomplishments. When appropriate, use bolding to highlight the most relevant or brag-worthy skills. Also, it may seem counterintuitive, but leave white space on your résumé so it’s not cluttered.

In the work history section, list responsibilities from past jobs, but don’t forget to include the most important information — your results. Simply listing day-to-day work activities usually doesn’t make for an interesting read. Instead, write down exactly what you accomplished while working for past employers (in concrete numerical terms, if possible). This makes a more compelling case for hiring you, because employers will know what you’re capable of.

Opinions on proper résumé length vary, but in general, one page is considered appropriate for those with a short work history. This is easily accomplished by making sure everything included is pertinent to the job you’re applying for and cutting anything that isn’t.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

After you’ve written the résumé, be sure to give it a thorough critique. Does it look inviting to read? Are all sections properly labeled? Are your accomplishments clearly stated?

Above all else, make sure it’s correct. You want to portray yourself as experienced and responsible, and the easiest way to do this is to make sure the résumé is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Have a second person read it after you’ve edited. A parent, teacher, guidance/career counselor or friend will often be able to catch overlooked mistakes.

When navigating a volatile job market, your resume must shine, so give yourself plenty of time — at least two or three hours — to review your resume and make revisions.

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