I’ve never really had to write a resume before. Do you have any general advice for writing a basic resume? — Resume Newbie in Brooklyn
While it’s true that every resume is different, most traditional resumes follow a similar format. Most jobseekers today will be applying for a position online and to a company utilizing an applicant tracking system (ATS) as their first line of defense for identifying potential candidates. What that means for you is that you have to first make it through an automated screening process before you even make it to a human. If that’s not enough, hiring managers are so overwhelmed with applicant entries for each job posted that most of them spend a mere five minutes reviewing each resume before deciding desk or trash.
But wait — don’t throw in the towel just yet! Roxxy has you covered with four simple steps to get resume through the preliminary round and into human hands.
Section 1: The Summary
Like we discussed in the cover letter column, the first paragraph is arguably the most important section of all. This is usually the first part reviewed so it’s important tell the reader who you are and what you can do for them in the most clear and concise way.
The Summary should be a paragraph of 3-5 sentences. This is your “elevator pitch,” or what you would say if you had 30 seconds to sell yourself for a job.
Sentence 1 (Who you are): Include years of experience and career focus.
Sentence 2-3 (What you can do): Include the value you bring to the table.
Sentence 4-5 (How you can do it): Include any industry specific skill sets or areas of expertise.
Don’t forget to show what it is about you that proves you’d be the person for this position.
Section 2: Areas of Expertise
Both recruiters and employers search for candidates and resumes based on keywords, so you need to make sure they’re in your resume if you want to be found. Look at a couple of ideal job postings. You will notice certain words are used over and over; these are the dedicated industry buzzwords that market your skills and grab the reader’s attention.
Section 3: Relevant Professional Experience
The most important thing to remember here is to present your previous experience in the most attractive way possible. Think outside the box, even if you don’t have experience in that particular field. Chances are if you look closely you’ll realize that even the most novice jobs have prepared you in some way for this new challenge.
Section 4: Education and Professional Development
Unless you are a recent graduate or went to an extremely prestigious college or program, your education should come towards the end and not include dates of attendance. Simply list your college level degree, major, name of school, followed by the city and state in order from the most recent down. If you have achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher you can omit any associate degrees. Best practices dictate that you don’t include your high school, however, if this is your highest level of education you may choose to include it anyway.
Resume Whisper #1: If you didn’t complete a college program consider adding a separate section after education called Professional Development, where you say Coursework in: and list the names or subject of relevant classes, certifications, or seminars that apply.
Resume Whisper #2: Avoid listing every single thing that you’ve ever done. Resist the urge to create a data dump. Find out what is most important and stick to that. Employers will only be interested in the past 10 to 15 years at most. Give them just enough to want call you in for an interview and learn more.
Resume Whisper #3: Your resume should be written in the first-person implied tense. To be sure you’re doing it correctly imagine there is an I in front of your sentence; if it makes sense you’re doing it right. Any current positions will be in present first-person implied while any past positions will be in past tense.
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