Jobs And Careers - Resume Art

 

HOW TO WRITE AND PRESENT SUCCESSFUL RESUMES AND JOB APPLICATIONS

Every year, hundreds of job seekers submit resumes to prospective employers or send them off in response to advertisements offering promising career opportunities. Many of them however, fail to make a strong impression and end up as a pile of discarded paper or worst yet never get read at all. The main reason for this degree of failure is that not enough thought is given to the whole purpose, preparation and presentation of the resume.

If you are considering writing or putting together your resume, you should bear in mind that the whole purpose of the exercise is to introduce or present yourself to a potential employer in a way that will stimulate enough interests to get you an interview. The resume will not miraculously or instantaneously get you a job, but it can open doors and capture the attention of people who are in a position to hire you. If it creates a poor impression, it can also close doors and prevent you from getting a job. You should therefore; pay special attention to how to prepare your resume because it is your personal presentation of yourself and as such, will make an important statement about you and create a positive or negative first impression.

Imagine what happens to your resume after it leaves your hands and comes before an employer or recruiter. It most likely will be one of many sent in application for a job or advertised position. The employer or recruiter will sort through and pick out the resumes which are neatly presented and clear to read and look for relevant details. This is a quick procedure which can range from a few seconds to a few minutes and which mainly focuses on your work experience and/or educational background and accomplishments in relation to a particular job. The reader’s objective is to find out if you match up to his or her job requirement and how well you qualify for a specific position or relate to a particular working environment.

If your resume is not clearly written and does not focus on your aptitudes and skills in relation to the job, it will not capture the reader’s attention and will be passed over. If it is too long and wordy, it will appear boring and will fail to stimulate interest and may not get read at all. If it is carelessly written, you will appear as a sloppy and untidy individual and this will create a poor impression.

If however, your name is well organized with relevant details pertaining to the job, neatly as well as concisely presented; it will attract the reader’s attention and stimulate enough interest for you to be invited for an interview.

How to Prepare and Organize Your Resume

In order to present a well organized and interesting resume, you must take time to prepare it carefully. It is not something that you should do hastily. Think about what you are writing when you decide to compose a resume. A resume is a summary of your work experience, education, skills and aptitudes and is not meant to be a biography on everything you have done. Before you begin to write your resume, start by focusing on the type of job or position that you are after and make a list of your skills, experiences, education and training that would qualify you for it. While you are making a list, you will become aware of your strong points and assets, as well as your weak points and disabilities. Concentrate on your strong points and write your job experiences and functions in active, positive terms such as supervised, managed, edited, organized and directed, etc. Once you have made this list or personal inventory, you must decide on a format in order to present this data in an informative way. Basically, there are three types of resume formats:

  1. The chronological
  2. The functional
  3. The combined

The Chronological Resume

The chronological resume lists your employment and educational experiences in reverse order starting with your present or most recent ones. It states date, name of employer and lists work functions. This format presents a progressive history of your education and work and is effective for the person who has had a record of successful jobs or promotions in the same career field. It is not effective however, for the person changing career fields or for the person who has a history of unrelated job changes or for the person re-entering the job market after a long time lapse.

The Functional Resume

The functional resume organizes your work experiences according to work functions and not under dates or employment headings, i.e. office management, sales, advertising, business administration, etc. It begins with a brief outline of your career or professional objective and will indicate to an employer how you intend to use your skills and qualifications in a preferred area of work. This format emphasizes your aptitudes and the transferable skills which you may have acquired in a field of work which is different to the one which you are embarking on. It also helps to distract from an erratic or poor work record and allows greater personal flexibility in interpreting or presenting your skills and experience. It is ideal for the person switching career fields, re-entering the job market or with a patchy work record. It is now effective however, for the person with a steady progressive work history.

The Combined Resume

The combined resume is a combination of the chronological format and the functional format. The main body of the resume lists work functions and skills and the latter half contains a chronological listing of employers and dates. This resume is useful if you are switching careers and will focus on transferable skills or job functions that will support your new career or area of employment. It does not however, emphasize your work history with specific employers.

Think about which of these resume formats would be best for you and then make a draft or outline of your resume. If you find this difficult to do on your own, you can seek advice and assistance from a professional resume and writing service. However, you must participate in the drafting of your resume and should take time to discuss what information and details are most relevant to the position which you are seeking. You may need to draft your resume once or twice, highlighting important information and deleting unnecessary details.

The organization of your data should start with your name, address and telephone number. You can omit the latter from your resume, but should include them in a cover letter or letter of application. The main categories which will follow this are: (i) education; (ii) work experience and (iii) special skills. You may also include special achievements and awards, publication and research, associations and professional societies, hobbies and references, as well as a career objective.

If you decide to write a career or professional objective, it should be written after your name, address and personal data. A career objective should be written if you have a specific job target or career goal. However, you should not include it if you are uncertain or not targeting a specific position.

When you have organized your data under these various categories, read the resume through and see if it makes sense. See what stands out and what does not and think about what you could present in a more descriptive or graphic way. Arrange and re-arrange your data until you have a good format.

Style and Presentation

Resumes vary in length, but on a whole the rule is that they should not be too long. In North America, the one page resume is widely used. However, in Europe and Jamaica, the average length is two to three pages. This is because most employers here look for more than just a basic outline and prefer a few details of your job experience and education. However, try not to make your resume too long or wordy.

Write short descriptive sentences and paragraphs, beginning with a verb in the past tense or present tense, i.e. managed and supervised, design and implement, etc. The personal pronoun “I” should not be used in resume writing, nor should abbreviations.

Your resume should be typed or you may have it typeset by a printer. Make sure that you produce a clean copy without any grammatical errors, smudges or spelling mistakes. Do not use carbon copies but clear photocopies are acceptable. The paper on which your resume is written should be good quality paper, preferably white, beige, cream or light gray. You can use bold print or capitals to highlight heads of information and you can underline headings or job titles.

When you have finished preparing your resume, hold it up and look at it. Is it visually impressive, easy to read and interesting? Would it stand out from a pile of other resumes?  Does it focus on the most important features of your career?  Does it project a positive image of you?  If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you have a successful resume.

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