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Resume Making Tips

Writing a great resume does not necessarily mean you should follow the rules Resume Making Tips you hear through the grapevine. It does not have to be one page or follow a specific resume format.

Every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. It should be appropriate to your situation and do exactly what you want it to do.

Last Updated - 28th September 2005

PURPOSE OF A RESUME

BASIC RESUME FORMATS
There are three basic types of resumes: Chronological, Functional, and "combined"

CHRONOLOGICAL
The chronological resume is the more traditional structure for a resume. The Experience section is the focus of the resume; each job (or the last several jobs) is described in some detail, and there is no major section of skills or accomplishments at the beginning of the resume. This structure is primarily used when you are staying in the same profession, in the same type of work, particularly in very conservative fields. It is also used in certain fields such as law and academia. It is recommended that the chronological resume always have an "Objective" or "Summary," to focus the reader.

The advantages: May appeal to older, more traditional readers and be best in very conservative fields. Makes it easier to understand what you did in what job. May help the name of the employer stand out more, if this is impressive. The disadvantage is that it is much more difficult to highlight what you do best. This format is rarely appropriate for someone making a career change.

FUNCTIONAL

The functional resume highlights your major skills and accomplishments from the very beginning. It helps the reader see clearly what you can do for them, rather than having to read through the job descriptions to find out. It helps target the resume into a new direction or field, by lifting up from all past jobs the key skills and qualifications to help prove you will be successful in this new direction or field. Actual company names and positions are in a subordinate position, with no description under each. There are many different types of formats for functional resumes. The functional resume is a must for career changers, but is very appropriate for generalists, for those with spotty or divergent careers, for those with a wide range of skills in their given profession, for students, for military officers, for homemakers returning to the job market, and for those who want to make slight shifts in their career direction.

Advantages: It will help you most in reaching for a new goal or direction. It is a very effective type of resume, and is highly recommended. The disadvantage is that it is hard for the employer to know exactly what you did in which job, which may be a problem for some conservative interviewers.

COMBINED
A combined resume includes elements of both the chronological and functional formats. It may be a shorter chronology of job descriptions preceded by a short "Skills and Accomplishments" section (or with a longer Summary including a skills list or a list of "qualifications"); or, it may be a standard functional resume with the accomplishments under headings of different jobs held.

There are obvious advantages to this combined approach: It maximizes the advantages of both kinds of resumes, avoiding potential negative effects of either type. One disadvantage is that it tends to be a longer resume. Another is that it can be repetitious: Accomplishments and skills may have to be repeated in both the "functional" section and the "chronological" job descriptions.

Whenever you send a CV to a potential employer you should always include a Covering Letter. There are no strict set rules of what to include, however there is a general formula, which you should always follow.

Avoid "writing" a cover letter

A cover letter has to be word-processed and not hand written. Make sure that it is printed on the same stationery as your resume. This reflects professionalism. Ensure that you include a header on your stationery with your name and address, preferably centered at the top of the page. You can also send a handwritten covering letter only if the company asks for it. Ensure that the handwriting is clear and legible.

Address it to the right addressee!

When drafting the cover letter, it should begin with the name of the recipient, title/designation, name and address. If you are unsure about the person's name or designation then it would be advisable to address the letter to the "Human Resources Department" or the department equivalent to it. If you are aware of the name of the person, then ensure that you have spelt the name right. If necessary, you may contact the organization to establish their credentials. This is particularly important for speculative inquires when the job hasn't been advertised and you are not sure who is in charge of recruitment.

Mention clearly the position you are applying for

The opening paragraph of the covering letter should clearly state what position you are applying for. It should reflect your interest and keenness in working with the organization you have applied to. If you have applied with reference to an advertisement in a publication then make a mention of it. If you are using the reference of a particular person then mention the name of the person who referred you. State a line or two as to why you are interested in working with the organization.

Highlight relevant skills

The second paragraph should include your skill sets and work experience in brief. Highlight skills that are relevant to the post you are applying for. However, avoid duplicating your resume. You can make a mention of any additional experiences and responsibilities pertinent to the job.

End on a positive note

End the cover letter on a positive note. Mention that you look forward to hearing from them and sign off on a formal note. Use words like "Sincerely, faithfully," etc. to sign off. Type your name below the subscription, but leave enough space between the two to accommodate your signature.

Most resumes are not much more than a collection of "evidence," various facts about your past. By evidence, we mean all the mandatory information you must include on your resume: work history with descriptions, dates, education, affiliations, list of software mastered, etc. If you put this toward the top of your resume, anyone reading it will feel like they are reading an income tax form. Let's face it, this stuff is boring no matter how extraordinary you are. All this evidence is best placed in the second half of the resume. Put the hot stuff in the beginning, and all this less exciting information afterward.

A great resume is all one big assertions section. In other words, every single word, even the basic facts about your history, are crafted to have the desired effect, to get them to pick up the phone and call you. The decisions you make on what information to emphasize and what to de-emphasize should be based on considering every word of your resume to be an important part of the assertions section. The evidence includes some or all of the following:

EXPERIENCE

EDUCATION

AWARDS
If the only awards received were in school, put these under the Education section. Mention what the award was for if you can (or just "for outstanding accomplishment" or "outstanding performance"). This section is almost a must, if you have received awards. If you have received commendations or praise from some very senior source, you could call this section, "Awards and Commendations." In that case, go ahead and quote the source.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
Include only those that are current, relevant and impressive. Include leadership roles if appropriate. This is a good section for communicating your status as a member of a minority targeted for special consideration by employers, or for showing your membership in an association that would enhance your appeal as a prospective employee.
This section can be combined with "Civic / Community Leadership" as "Professional and Community Memberships."

CIVIC / COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
This is good to include if the leadership roles or accomplishments are related to the job target and can show skills acquired, for example, a loan officer hoping to become a financial investment counselor who was Financial Manager of a community organization charged with investing its funds. Any Board of Directors membership or "chairmanship" would be good to include. Be careful with political affiliations, as they could be a plus or minus with an employer or company.

PUBLICATIONS

Include only if published. Summarize if there are many.

COMMENTS FROM SUPERVISORS

Include only if very exceptional. Heavily edit for key phrases.

PERSONAL INTERESTS
Advantages: Personal interests can indicate a skill or area or knowledge that is related to the goal, such as photography for someone in public relations, or carpentry and woodworking for someone in construction management. This section can show well-roundedness, good physical health, or knowledge of a subject related to the goal. It can also create common ground or spark conversation in an interview.

Disadvantages: Personal interests are usually irrelevant to the job goal and purpose of the resume, and they may be meaningless or an interview turn-off ("TV and Reading," "Fund raising for the Hell's Angels").

You probably should not include a personal interests section. Your reason for including it is most likely that you want to tell them about you. But, as you know, this is an ad. If this section would powerfully move the employer to understand why you would be the best candidate, include it; otherwise, forget about it.

May also be called "Interests and Hobbies," or just "Interests."

REFERENCES
You may put "References available upon request" at the end of your resume, if you wish. This is a standard close (centered at bottom in italics), but is not necessary: It is usually assumed. Do not include actual names of references. You can bring a separate sheet of references to the interview, to be given to the employer upon request. The resume is visually enticing, a work of art. Simple clean structure. Very easy to read. Symmetrical. Balanced. Uncrowded. As much white space between sections of writing as possible; sections of writing that are no longer than six lines, and shorter if possible.

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