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What’s in a Resume?

Sending your resume to either a prospective employer or recruiter is like sending your calling card, your personalized marketing piece and most importantly it is your first impression.

Your goal should be to grab attention right up front, be positive and make sure to emphasize what you can bring to the position.  Research shows that the first scan of a resume can be as brief as 6 seconds. That said, a simple easy to read format is key.

Your potential employer will want to understand your accomplishments and be able to peruse your timeline quickly.  This is where you show who you are, detail your experience and unleash your full potential.

The Basics. Along with your name and contact information at the top formatted in a clear and easy to read font like Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica or Times Roman, it is also recommended you include a section of core competencies, skills, key qualifications, or a professional profile in a prominent area of your resume.  By including a skills or competencies section, the potential employer can quickly identify those qualifications needed for the position, which can also act as your hook creating the interest to read further.

Your work or professional experience. Now it’s time to identify your work experience and achievements, starting with the most recent. Make sure to includes your job title, company and dates of employment.  What comes next is the most significant component, your opportunity to shine, expound upon your achievements and performance.  Be specific, emphasize your position along with your accomplishments. Include numbers or percentages where possible; increasing or reducing numbers create feelings, numbers convey accomplishments or impressions of your passion in your role.  More importantly what was the result of your involvement, not just responsibilities?

Education.  Education can be another important piece of information most employers or recruiters will look for. The placement of your education can vary depending on the importance of this education to the job.  The name of the school, location, degree obtained, GPA and year of graduation are standard components to include.  Relevant honors or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education that make an impact on the job you are applying for should also be included.

What about customization? How best to grab attention other than to use pieces of the job description’s own requirements.  Review the job description you are applying to, look for the keywords describing the skill, culture or experience your potential employer is looking for.  Now find ways to match your skills and talents.  Take keywords from the job description and use them in your resume as often as possible.  Keep in mind the use of keywords should not be overdone and must appear as a natural part of your own experiences.  This is recommended for each job you are applying to; one size does not fit all in most cases.

Your resume is your first impression to any company or recruiter.  Your resume should convey who you are at your best.  Layout, flow, spelling and grammar are all key areas to fine tune and double check.  Keep it simple and make it easy to read and most of all showcase your skills and your fit as closely as possible so that no one will want to pass up an interview with you.

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