In today’s economy, an impressive résumé is more important than ever and will greatly increase a job applicant’s likelihood of being offered employment.
When job-hunting, people normally submit résumés to prospective employers; but in today’s competitive job market, employers might receive hundreds of applications for the same position, especially if that position is highly desirable. There are, however, steps that applicants can take to ensure that their résumés will stand out from the rest and increase their chances of not only being invited for an interview but also being offered a job.
The Purpose and Importance of Having a Good Job Résumé
A résumé is an applicant’s introduction to a prospective employer, and as is the case with face-to-face introductions, this one will most assuredly make an immediate impression, one that can be either positive or negative. Therefore, in addition to providing an applicant’s name and contact information, a résumé should provide an overview of the applicant’s background and qualifications for the position for which he or she is applying; but do so with professionalism, correctness, and propriety.
Given the number of individuals who apply for the same position, any résumé that is poorly written, sloppy, and/or incomplete is usually immediately tossed into the nearest wastebasket or else consigned to the nearest paper shredder (Zimmer & Camp). So, with this in mind, if applicants would like to ensure that their résumés aren’t among those that are deemed unworthy, they will make every possible effort to create a résumé that is free of errors, neat, and complete.
The Correct Length for a Job Resume
Although some job seekers might think that longer is better when it comes to their résumés, unless an applicant possesses extensive job-related experience, just the opposite is true. In fact, ideally, a résumé should consist of only one page. That one page, however, provides prospective employers with all they need to know, at least for the time being, about an applicant while making them curious to learn more.
There are exceptions, though, depending upon the type of position for which someone is applying, so there is no one-size-fits-all pattern for résumés. Then again, according to Jane Wyrick, author of Steps to Writing Well, “There is one guiding principle,” which is that applicants need to select and arrange information in the way that most effectively highlights their strengths to prospective employers (p. 470).
How to Prepare a Job Résumé That Will Make a Good Impression
According to Dr. Kenneth Zimmer, Professor Emeritus at California State University’s School of Business and Economics, some people erroneously believe that preparing a résumé is easy; however, it isn’t easy, not if it’s done correctly. In fact, the process can be quite time-consuming, but if prepared correctly, a résumé is the “foot-in-the-door” that can ultimately result in a job offer.
A well-prepared résumé should be prepared on good quality paper (white, cream, light gray, or light blue, not some garish color), formatted in an easy to read font, arranged attractively on the page, and printed in black or dark blue ink. Moreover, the titles of the various sections should be in bold font.
How to Format a Job Résumé Correctly
The résumé sections include the following and in the order presented:
- Heading: Provide name, address, phone number (work and personal), and e-mail address.
- Career Objective: State the employment goal. This section, though, is not necessary if one has stated the career objective in the cover letter; yet, if included, it should be more specific for an advertised position than if the résumé is being sent to numerous companies.
- Education: List most recent education first, including degree earned, college or university, and major. If not yet a graduate but working toward a degree, state the degree title, anticipated date of graduation, and college or university, for example, Bachelor of Arts in English to be awarded June 2011, from the University of Georgia.
- Work Experience: List current or most recent experience first, working backward and including dates of employment and job responsibilities. (If one has had numerous previous jobs, one might title this section “Related Experience” or “Selected Experience,” which lets the employer know that the list does not include an entire employment history (Zimmer & Camp).
- Professional Skills: State any relevant skills one has to offer the company, for example, technical knowledge, language expertise, or special training, etc.
- Activities: List awards, scholarships, honors, and prizes that show recognition for performances and/or achievements. Do not, however, list things that are irrelevant, since doing so will “trivialize” this section; of course, neither should one undersell oneself. (Wyrick)
- References: Provide the names of people a prospective employer can contact for information. However, one can simply state, “References will be supplied upon request,” because, in most cases, applicants are not asked for references until the interview process; yet while preparing the résumé, one should also prepare the reference list as a “companion document,” using the same type paper and font style so the list will be ready (Zimmer & Camp).
In summary, a résumé, though normally short and concise, speaks volumes about a job applicant, not only through the information it provides but also through the professionalism demonstrated in its preparation.