Friday, June 30, 2006

The First-Time Resume

Building the Perfect Resume
Shortly before going broke for about the third or fourth time in his life, Donald Trump was once hear to yell (at any one who would listen): “Cash is King!” Well, be that as it may, we’re pretty sure that when it came to resumes, The Donald would say ‘Content is King,’ with just one Trumpian rule to bear in mind: your cv is not a work history - It's Your Personal Advertising Campaign.

Think about that for a moment.

Your resume is your first impression… and, goodness knows we certainly know about first impressions, having made enough bad ones. Drop the golden snitch here and all other groundwork you put together will be in vain as Hong Kong or New York Inc. will never witness your sparkling motivation, hear your tales of glory or be inspired by your unquenchable enthusiasm. As such, your cv must be the strongest you can make it - and that means learning to structure a successful, professional resume. If not, you are dangerously endangering your future and failing to realize your potential for the sake of a minimal investment of time.

Creating Your CV
People who know what they are seeking and, by extension, know what they are hoping to market write great resumes. However, to do a truly expert job is not easy – unless, of course, you've had plenty of rehearsal. If you don't want to leave this aspect of your job search to luck, you may wish to consider the services of a professional resume service which, naturally, will cost you money. In the absence of a paid professional to do the work for you, here’s the overall structure and the information your resume should contain:

Identifying Information:
• name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.

Make your name stand out by increasing the font-size. In the case of any additional resume pages, your name and page number should be placed at the top.

• a ‘theme’ statement summarizing what you wish to do in your professional life.

Everything on your cv should support your objective, which briefly describes the type of work desired, where you want to work, and may mention a particular interest area, or short- or long-term goal. Stating an objective conveys a sense of direction on your part.

• in reverse-chronological order, this section includes schools attended, dates of graduation / attendance, and degrees sought or completed.

Other information that may be included: coursework related to your job objective (e.g. specialized courses - ‘ten credits in statistics, six credits in computer programming), scholarships or honors (e.g. GPA, Dean's List, election to honour societies), special projects (e.g. research, teaching assignments) and non-academic activities may be included if relevant. High school information is usually omitted, but some choose to include it if they deem it carries networking value due to prestige.

• not only paid positions, but volunteer, extracurricular, or field experiences.

Names and locations of employers and years of employment are included. Descriptions should describe level of responsibility and depth of exposure. Be sure to emphasize any achievement or unique contributions made.

• interests, hobbies or travel experience

With a view to gaining a picture of you as a ‘whole’ person, employers will seek this information from recent graduates with limited work experience. Avoid redundancy and be unique (reading and running are overworked interests).

Special Categories:
• publications, research, awards, special certifications, professional memberships, language proficiencies, extracurricular and civil activities, etc.

These may enhance your resume if they serve to differentiate you or to support your career objectives. Special categories may be listed under separate headings or included under other applicable headings (e.g. language proficiencies under Education or extracurricular activities under Experience). Try to avoid categories that contain only one item.

• faculty members, former employers, community leaders, business owners, and people employed in the specialty you are seeking

Make certain, however, that you have specifically asked the people you list to serve as references for you. The person must know you well, as it is extremely embarrassing to have a reference admit to knowing you only on the surface. Provide each reference with a copy of your resume. Prepare a list of up to three references (including name, title, email address, company/university affiliation, address, and business telephone number) for distribution to employers if so requested at interviews.

Now Make it Shine by Keeping it Relevant
In most cases less is more. Exclude from your resume anything that doesn't have direct relevance to your target employer. Writing your definitive autobiography - not that you have one; you are, after all a lowly U-grad - is a sure fire way to bore them to death. Most hiring managers don’t have the time or the patience, for that matter, to strain through everything you have to write about yourself while waiting for the relevant parts to surface. Tell them what they want to hear and keep your cv as short and punchy as possible, with only as many words as is necessary to sell yourself, and not one more.

Read those last fifteen words again: ‘with only as many words as is necessary to sell yourself, and not one more.’ Write them on the back of your hand. In the order they appear.

Other points to note:
• Never hand-write a resume. Use a good printer or a clean, clear photocopier;
• Keep it plain and simple. Don't get cute, creative, colorful or glib;
• Use bullet points where possible; paragraphs are not an inviting proposition;
• Make it as short as possible - succinct, key and relevant are words to bear in mind. Keep it to one page.


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