Cindy Stephens,Stephens International Recruiting, Inc.
The job market is improving, but the competition remains very intense. Whether you’re currently looking for a job or are satisfied with the one you have, you should always keep your resume up-to-date highlighting your career achievements. You never know when the perfect new opportunity might come along for you. Therefore, you’ll want to have your most important marketing tool (your updated resume) on hand when an opportunity presents itself.
A well-written resume acts like a good advertisement, enticing the reader to learn more about you through personal contact. It should include only the key facts and features — the selling points — that are relevant to the reader’s interests and needs. Your resume should reflect just the right blend of responsibilities, accomplishments, and career highlights to give yourself a truly competitive advantage in today’s competitive market.
Most human resource professionals and hiring managers must screen through resumes quickly and will toss a resume aside within a few seconds if the content does not grab their attention or if the format does not highlight the candidate’s career success.
To be effective, your resume must be clear, concise, and relevant to the job you are applying for, and it must stand out from the others. Paying attention to even the tiniest details can help your resume dazzle employers. You must be sure your resume is accurate and reflects you as a person to be hired or promoted.
The basic resume should include some key sections, and although a cover letter and reference list are very important, they are not part of the actual resume.
Be sure this section includes your full name, complete home address, phone number, and email address. Ensure your email address is professional, and not one that can be misunderstood as inappropriate.
Objective and/or Summary
Always include an objective statement, and, if you wish, you can include a summary. You want to stand out to your prospective employer. Ensure you keep your objective statement current to new trends in your career field. For example, we are in the Healthcare Technology Management field as biomedical equipment technicians or imaging equipment service technicians.
The objective statement is the first opportunity to sell yourself. It shows focus, organization, and clarity. The objective statement is your personal goal for your professional career and the specific position you are applying for. The statement should be short and to the point, and tailored to each position and employer you are targeting.
The summary is an overview of your key characteristics, and highlights specific qualifications, skills, and years of experience. This is the perfect place to customize one to four bullet points or sentences about the value you bring to the employer.
Hiring officials want to know you are prepared to accept the responsibility of the position and that you have been successful in your previous positions. Begin with the most recent position and work back through your employment history. For each position, list the dates of employment, name of the organization, location (city, state), and the title of your position for the last 10 years.
Do not write paragraphs. Keep it simple with a list of bulleted highlights.
Many recruiters and HR professionals rely on key words to find candidates. If you are specialized in certain areas such as imaging, use key words that apply to your field and avoid acronyms. Remember, you may know what you do, but someone in HR who searches for candidates ranging from accountants to biomedical equipment technicians or X-ray service technicians does not.
Perhaps even more important than your employment record is showing your performance and accomplishments throughout your a career. This section should focus on your skills such as what you have done to improve operations or services, reduce costs, enhance procedures, etc.
Relevant Skills – Your skill set is what defines your marketability. Be sure you represent it clearly and accurately. Identify skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for and those that make you the most qualified candidate. Highlight your skills with emphasis on how you used them successfully in each position. Also mention specific licenses or certification you have that are important to the position.
Measurable Accomplishments – In today’s competitive market, job seekers must understand the needs of potential employers and demonstrate their ability to add value to the organization. Use concrete measurements to define your accomplishments, how you contributed to the success of your previous employers and, when applicable, tie in dollar figures or percentages. You need to demonstrate that you are above the average employee and that you made a positive contribution to your company.
Education & Training
Include your most recent education first. List the date, the degree, major, and institution attended. Mention any academic honors and specific certification received. Then, list in chronological order with your most recent training first, certifications, certificates of training, and advanced training, along with the specific training and institution attended. If you are applying directly for a position that requires specific training or certification, be sure it is highlighted here.
Awards & Achievements
List awards or honors you received, or specific achievements. List leadership and involvement in volunteer organizations as well as membership or participation in associations.
You might not think much about how your resume is formatted, but please do! As a professional recruiting firm, we filter through hundreds of resumes each week and it still surprises me that many candidates continue to submit resumes with simple mistakes and format errors.
A few good examples of tossing out a resume quickly when we attempted to contact candidates: A candidate recently submitted a resume with one digit of the phone number typed incorrectly. Another candidate did not have her voicemail set up, and another candidate’s voicemail box was “full” so you could not leave messages. Many candidates leave off their home address and it quickly puts them at the bottom for consideration because the resume is incomplete. Details do matter!
Review and edit your resume a final time to ensure it reflects you as a person an employer wants to hire. Be critical of everything from the layout to language used. Ensure everything is accurate including your name, phone numbers, address, email, dates of employment… everything. When you “think” you are ready, ask someone else to proof it.
Additional Resume Tips
Avoid using fancy templates and formatting. Using “headers” can create problems when uploading resumes to on-line data bases. The headers don’t always transfer into the database, thus dropping the most important information – your name and contact information. Also, the resume is usually put in a plain text format. This means text boxes are lost leaving a jumbled mess of dates and positions without formatting.
Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages that are clearly written.If printing, use a high-quality white or cream paper.
To ensure readability, use the same font throughout and keep the size to 11 or 12 point. Use a bolded and slightly larger font for headings so they stand out. Save bold and italics for headings only, and avoid underlining all together.
Be consistent in the format for phone numbers and dates throughout the resume.
Check your spelling and grammar carefully. It counts!
Present yourself accurately and positively. Avoid embellishments.
Don’t use long complicated sentences, slang, text symbols, jargon or “buzz” words.
Keep it professional and do not include hobbies or personal information (kids, family, etc.).
Never include your desired salary.
Don’t list references on your resume – keep it separate.
While a well-written resume cannot guarantee an interview, one that is poorly written or formatted can put you at the bottom of the pile fast. Be sure you have created an effective resume that stands out, giving you the to give yourself an competitive advantage in today’s competitive market. By highlighting your career achievements and accurately reflecting yourself as a person qualified to be hired or promoted!
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