Monday 20 April 2015

The Young Professional- Resume

Another Monday, another start to a (hopefully) great week and another edition of The Young Professional! So, last week we talked about job searching and today we are talking about resume writing. I will be sharing how I set up my resume and what I look for in the resume of others. 

We all know that a resume is essentially a list of your experiences and qualifications; your resume is a a snapshot of who you are as a professional.
What should you include on your resume?
  • Contact information- On the top of my resume (and top of my cover letter) I include my contact information. This includes my first and last name, street address, phone number, email and my LinkedIn profile. Make it easy for the person doing the hiring to contact you.
  • Cover Letter- Next weeks post will be dedicated to cover letters, so I'm not going to go into details in this post, but it's always a good idea to include a cover letter with your resume.
  • Qualifications- Highlight why you're qualified for the job. This are general qualifications, such as 'strong written and oral communications skills' or 'proven success rate with special events'. Not sure what to include? Look at the job description. For example, if the job description lists 'fast paced environment' your qualification can be 'comfortable working in fast paced environments and under tight deadlines.' This is a great place to customize your resume to the position. I also include the social media outlets I'm experienced using and any certifications I have, for example, First Aid.
  • Education- Pretty self explanatory...included where you went to school, what your major was and your graduation year.
  • Work History- This should be listed in order, with the most recent on the top. Include the name of the company, your title and how long you worked there. Underneath, list what you did. For example, at my last job, I was an Event & Fundraising Coordinator, so I listed things like 'oversaw 14 major events a year', 'responsible for maintaining community partnerships' and 'build and maintain event budgets'. 
  • Volunteer and Work Related Experience- This is the place to list your volunteer work and related experiences that are not quite 'work history' but more than 'volunteer experience'. An example of this would be pro bono work. I cannot stress enough how important it is to list your volunteer experience. I have actually not hired someone-who was an ideal candidate- because she didn't have any volunteer experience. Employers want to see people who are involved in their community and who have things going on outside of work. Volunteer experience shows time management, leadership and it's a good way to explain gaps in employment. Volunteering IS working, it does count for something.
  • References- I include this section on my resume and then underneath it put 'available upon request' unless the job posting says to apply with references, then I include them.

Now that you have the content of your resume, what about the layout?
  • Length- try and keep your resume 2-3 pages.
  • Point form- people do not have time to read blocks of text, and blocks of text can be hard to read; people will skim and have a good chance of skipping over key points of your resume. Keep it to the point and concise. Remember, this is a snapshot. 
  • Proof read- This is so important. Make sure words are spelled correctly and that your grammar is correct (example, consistently using past tense). I have passed on interviewing people because of spelling mistakes.
  • Name & Contact info- Make sure you include your contact info in an easy to find spot, like the header on the first page. It's also a good idea to include your name at the top of any subsequent pages; if pages get separated, they know which ones belong with your resume.
  • Font- make sure it's easy to read. Arial, Helvetica and Verdana are good choices. For my name and contact info, I use a 'fancier' font, like Lucinda Handwriting to make it stand out. Since it's just a small piece of text, it's not too hard to read.
  • Colour/Uniqueness- You want to be professional, but you also want to stand out and make your resume memorable. To make my resume unique, instead of using a standard bullet point, I use a red star. A pop of colour is refreshing, without being overpowering, and it makes your resume stand out while still being professional. 
There are so many theories and ideas as to what makes a resume a good resume. I format my resume the same way every time and 9 times out of 10, I get a call for an interview. Every employer will look for different things in a resume. Just remember, your resume is a snapshot of you...keep this in mind when putting together your resume and you're sure to have a great one!

Next Monday...Cover letters.

Looking for more on this series? Checkout The Young Professional Tag.

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