Selling Your Strengths
The right elements can help you catch an employer's attention.
In today’s electronic business environment, most job applications must first be made online. That makes it easier for applicants in some ways, but you still need to have printed copies of your resume available. Make sure yours stands up to the competition by following some basic guidelines.
Name and Contact Information
No nicknames here. Your full name should be the first line of your resume. Your physical address should be spelled out, no abbreviations. And since this is a formal document, if your personal email address is a name like “GamerAce” or “HotLips,” create a new account using a combination of your first and last names.
Here’s where you describe your preferred job. Instead of “customer service representative,” consider “professional business representative focused on meeting customer needs.”
Consider this the CliffsNotes of your resume. Digest all your experience and/or skills into no more than five bullets that give a quick overview of who you are. Focus on honest and measurable accomplishments.
Work History / Education
Which comes next on the resume is a debate. Rule of thumb: If you are light on actual work experience but have an impressive degree or training, list education first. Most resumes list work history first, then education.
Work History: The last job title you held, company name/location and dates you were employed. Stick to bullets and descriptions of skills used to accomplish the tasks. For example, if you were a receptionist who sorted and distributed mail: “Utilized organization and time-management skills to effectively distribute internal and external correspondence.”
Education: List the school name, city, state, diploma/degree or certificate you earned. If you are limited with work experience, list extracurricular and leadership roles held at those schools.
FOR REFERENCE ONLY
• List the full address of former employers along with the name, title, phone number and email of former supervisors (if they agree to be contacted). This is information that is good to have available for those who request it, but doesn’t need to be on every copy.
• Gather a variety of references that could be beneficial for different positions and keep a list with their contact information. Be sure to ask permission before you list someone as a reference.
• Save a copy of your standard resume in plain text. This will make it easy to cut and paste into online applications.
• Save a new resume with the company name as part of the file name for each submission. For example, if Scott Jones is applying to XYZ Manufacturing, he would save the document as ScottJonesXYZ.doc. This will help you keep track of places you have applied.
• It’s smart to save your resume as a PDF before uploading. It will keep any formatting (bullets, fonts and spacing) intact no matter what system the reader uses to open the file.
• Proofread thoroughly. Read twice for content. Read backwards to catch misspelled words. Just to be sure, have someone else proof it for you as well.
P.S. The Cover Letter
Some online applications provide an option for you to upload a cover letter. Take the opportunity to showcase your strengths and show that you are really interested. Use the letter as a way to provide a link from your skills and experience to what they are looking for. Remember to use key words and descriptions in your letter that were used in the job posting.