Get Resume Help
As heard on 610
WTVN radio, Columbus, Ohio
These are the basic principles behind good resume
design and presentation.
resume tools and tips have worked well for FacilitatorGuy and others for a long time and they will work for you, too!
Click one of these
to read about a specific resume topic:
vs. Summary] [Experience]
Also here is an item written by
Shale Paul, a Personal Effectiveness "coach."
Consider these resume tools and tips in your preparation efforts!
Click one of these
to read about a specific resume topic
in Shale's resume tools and tips article below:
Personnel] [Your Resume - Leave
[Resume for Busy People] [Your
[Your Experience] [Other
[How to Use Your Resume]
A resume is,
maybe, only 10% of the total marketing/hiring process, but at the
beginning, it may be the only thing you have! Take it very
Your resume is, first
and foremost, a marketing document. It is not your work
history. Your goal is to present yourself to the reader,
such that they will see how you can help their company. Keep
this as your baseline theme throughout the resume development
Your resume is never
done. It is a work-in-progress. You need to fine-tune
it on a regular basis.
Your resume is not a
static document. You may need a slightly different version
for each prospective company so you can emphasize your strengths,
Regarding paper color,
the most traditional is a white or off-white (cream color),
heavier-than-usual paper. Textured paper, paper with a
watermark, pastel colors, all can work. The goal is to set
yourself apart, but regardless, keep a professional
For most resumes, stick
with a Times New Roman or Arial font. Resumes targeted
more toward a "creative" position (marketing, for example) may
be fine with a more unique, yet readable font.
Don't go below a 10 pt.
font size in your resume. If you use a very small pt.
font, your reader may become frustrated with all the fine print
and never read your resume. If you can do it, a 12 pt.
font is best.
Leave lots of
"white space" around the edges and throughout your
resume. No less than a 1" margin is mandatory - up to
1.5". It is better to go two pages than to have a
crowded, difficult to read, one-page resume.
And, regarding the
debate over how many pages is appropriate, don't let anyone tell
you that more than one page is unacceptable. If you can
reasonably get all the important stuff on one page, that's great,
but it isn't a crime if you don't. Either way, you shouldn't
go beyond two pages.
More and more companies
are accepting (and sometimes requiring) an electronic version or a
resume. If this is the case, paper color, type, weight,
quality, etc. don't
matter. What you say does matter -- the issue then is your
use of KEYWORDS.
Keywords are those words
specific to the position you seek. Most likely, these
will be in your resume anyway, but it is a good idea to make sure
that any industry-specific verbiage you may be aware of is in your
resume. Some companies use computer software that searches
resumes that have been scanned into a database. This
software looks for specific keywords so if your resume has them,
you make the cut. But, if it doesn't....... In
this instance, it doesn't matter how qualified you may be.
Be sure to get those keywords in your resume!
Be sure to say the most
important things at the beginning. You must grab the
reader's attention within the first two or three inches (15-30
seconds) of page space. If you don't, you may lose them.
If your strong point is
your education, put it first. If your strong point is your
general accomplishments or awards and it is relevant to the
position you seek, put it first. If your strength is your
employment, put that first.
Be consistent in your
use of numbers. Although there may be exceptions, a good
rule of thumb is, if the number is less than 100, use the word -
otherwise, use the number.
Use a consistent date
format. Don't switch back and forth between 1/1/1999 and
1-1-1999 and Jan. 1, 1999.
Don't staple your
resume. Stapling makes it more difficult for the reader to
make copies and the process of removing the staple can damage
your resume. Use a paper clip instead.
Many people advocate the
use of the "Objective" section at the beginning of the
resume. The FacilitatorGuy approach uses, instead, a
"Summary". An "Objective" states the
obvious. You want a particular job or to be part of a
particular company or industry - something that can be stated in
your cover letter, etc. Rather than wasting your precious
resume space in this way, use a "Summary".
describes you - who you are, your strengths - what you do.
Think about this...write your thoughts down and come up with two
or three sentences that describe you.
For each employer in
your career, think about those things you did that helped the
company, saved the company money, made a process more efficient,
Use active verbiage in
your resume. Say "directed" or "managed"
instead of "was responsible for".
Instead of saying
"saved the company money", think of a specific thing you
did to reduce costs or make things more efficient. If you
came up with a program to reduce overtime, for example, think of
how many hours times the number of employees times the number of
occurrences or days. You will end up with a tangible dollar
amount. This may only be an estimate or projection, but it
at least shows that you put some thought into it and can back up
your statements! Here are some examples of savings that
employers like to see:
- Increased sales,
productivity, performance levels, safety
- Reduced errors, injuries, product rejects
- New products, programs, policies,
- Effective management ($ savings), budgeting ($ savings)
Spend more time on your
more applicable work experiences and less time on your less
applicable ones. You don't have to do a "memory
dump" on everything you ever did. This wastes time and
space on your resume.
Let your first
"bullet" be the typical "job description"
section and let each subsequent bullet describe specific
contributions you made or significant projects you worked on.
This is a section you
may never have seen on a resume and that may be just the reason it
works so well. Almost no one ever talks about the
intangibles, their personality, work ethic, motivational style,
You don't have to ever
have managed anyone to have a philosophy (and you can take the
"team-building" approach if it makes more sense to you).
In this section, include
nominations received for awards as well. Also, if you
were selected to participate in a special organization, include
that as well.
Expand on those areas of
education that are relevant to the position, but include them all.
Some say only include
your GPA if the average is better than 3.0. Following
that reasoning, if you include them for some education and not for
others, what message are you sending. Except for graduating
college students with a real strong GPA and no work experience,
etc., it is best just to leave the GPA out altogether.
Use this section for
self-improvement courses taken, technical training, etc.
Briefly describe those items that may not be easily understood by
Just like the
"Objective" section, it is assumed that you have
references. The oft-used phrase, "references available
upon request" is a given and just wastes space. If you
are short on space, you are just as well served to balance your
items over the document or try to expand a section.
resume tools and tips article begins here...
– Updated Your Resume Lately?
Since the last issue was usurped
by the piece on the economy, this will get us back on schedule. In
recent weeks, I’ve been asked to assist several clients in preparing
or updating their resumes. Can’t tell you why the traffic in this
area has increased, but it suggests that the readership might benefit
from a discussion of the subject.
When I began working with John Crystal in the career field in 1974,
the approach was to urge clients NOT to prepare a resume at all.
Instead, to help them develop entire career-planning strategies. That’s
changed somewhat in the intervening twenty years plus. Today, you have
vast internet based resume bins, extremely sophisticated sorting
mechanisms, and tons more people in the job market. Even though
unemployment is low, turnover in many industries is high—an
indicator perhaps of the decline in organizational loyalty and the
take-charge attitudes that many have been forced to develop.
So, today, in most situations, you need a resume … but, how it is
developed and subsequently used is critical. Here are ten guidelines
you may want to consider:
1. Where possible, avoid sending
your resume to Personnel. Their role is to exclude rather
than include. They get hundreds of resumes for many positions, and
their task is to winnow the huge numbers down to meaningful size. Some
use computer scanning/sorting for a first cut, many rely on largely
invisible sorting criteria to weed out those who are unacceptable, and
some (only a few, we hope) are motivated by their desire to submit
only those applicants who, they feel, will make them look good. (I
should say that there are organizations where the HR/personnel types
don’t fit this description but, in my experience, they are
definitely in the minority)
2. Treat your resume as a leave-behind
rather than a send-before. Believe it or not, YOU are more important
than your resume, so it only makes sense that the prospective employer
meet you first, not your resume. (How you accomplish this miraculous
feat is what strategy is all about)
3. Write your resume with one thought in mind: the reader
(prospective employer) has little time
and very specific interest. Every word should be carefully
orchestrated accordingly. Example: the first and only thing at the top
of your resume (center heading) should be your name, not your address
and phone. Think about it. When will the interviewer call or write
you? Only when he or she has made a decision to follow up, and that’s
not when you walk in the door. Your contact information is the
next-to-last item on your resume.
4. After your name, the most important item is your
Objective, typically set-off as a minor side head
(initial caps only) followed two-spaces below with a sentence that
begins: To … Your objective should be specific to the type of work
and position you are applying for, and it should focus on the benefits
to the employer (e.g.- your objective is NOT to develop your skills on
the employer’s time!)
5. Once you’ve stated your objective, everything else follows
directly from that objective. Does this mean that you may have a
different resume and objective for each employment prospect? YES! The
objective is to make your campaign rifle-like in its specificity.
6. Following your objective, the next minor side heading should be:
The word, relevant, is critical here, because it enables you to get
away from the current-employment-first listing requirement. What you
write under this heading (typically as bulleted paragraphs) is ordered
in relation to your objective, not according to history. That is, the
first item—phrased in terms of measurable results where possible—should
be the most important contribution you can offer towards reaching your
objective. The second item should be the next most important, and so
on. Now, the reason for the word, Relevant, is that it enables you to
list these items in order of their importance rather than their
chronology. This is critical, because you may have worked in a job
that does not contribute to your objective, so you want to avoid
7. Your next heading (minor side) would be something like: Education
& Extracurricular, or Education & Military. Here
you would list your degrees, highest first according to: type of
degree, concentration, college, and year. (e.g., MBA, Finance, Cornell
University, 1991). You would also list military experience and any
activities that help describe you as the kind of person who
could/would accomplish your stated objective.
8. Now we pay homage to chronological order. This is your
Chronology section in which you list the organizations (and
positions, if you like, though it’s often unnecessary and unwieldy
if you’ve held a number of different positions in a single
organization), and inclusive dates (years only, e.g.,1992-94). This
section protects you from being accused of having left anything out.
The word, Relevant, allows you be be selective in the most important
9. Publications. If you’ve written books or articles that are
relevant to your objective or that tell much about you as a person,
list them here (title, publisher and date of publication plus any
co-authorship). If you’re applying for work in an academic,
scientific, or technical environment, you may want to be fairly
inclusive here. The key measure is: is this item pertinent in
relation to my objective and experience?
10. Contact information. This is the next-to-last item and, as
per above, it includes your address, phone, fax, e-mail, etc. The
last item is a single statement, set off as a separate line:
References available on request.
Now, let’s say you’ve followed the outline above, prepared your
resume with proper fonts and sizing. How
do you use it? Well, for starters, you try to use it as
an item that you present to the interviewer AFTER he/she has had a
chance to meet and talk with you. With personnel types, this is hard,
but with an operating manager/executive—if you set it up right—it’s
much easier. The key point here is that the most important impression
is YOU, not your resume. And incidentally, while the precise figures
vary, there seems to be general agreement that you have about two
minutes to make a favorable impression. Longer than that and it’s an
up hill battle.
A second point regarding use of the resume. Use it as a checklist
for spotting weaknesses or gaps in your experience, strengths, job
history, etc. As in the old sales maxim: meet the objection head-on,
you want to think ahead about any or problems your resume might
reveal. For example, if you are applying for an accounting position
and, somewhere between your accounting degree and your present
position, you sold cars, have an explanation for the discrepancy! Don’t
expect that it won’t be noticed, because it will. Don’t initiate
discussion about it, but if questioned or challenged, be ready to
respond in a way that seems reasonable to the interviewer.
Finally, use your Relevant Experience section as the basis for
developing talking papers. These are papers you write, one for each
item, which you virtually memorize so that you can talk without them
fluently and with apparent spontaneity. In these talking papers, you
focus on your accomplishments, the challenges you faced, the growth
you experienced, and the insights you gained. This last item is
extremely important, because it’s your way of demonstrating—in the
give-and-take interview discussion—your capability.
I hope I haven’t discouraged you, but a resume is (or should be)
more than just a nicely formatted personal history. In a way, it’s
the evidence on which the impressions you create are based. It’s
also (with your talking papers which the interviewer never sees) your
One final note. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, preparing a
resume, a la the above can help focus your interests and effort. Have
Copyright 1998, Shale Paul. May be transmitted or reproduced in its
entirety only, including this copyright line.
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