A resume is a detailed picture of your accomplishments. It paints a picture of who you are in regards to the industry and discipline you work in. It’s an opportunity to show the things you have accomplished and put them in a format that the reader can understand why you would be a benefit to them. So it should show specific accomplishments, achievements, and contributions, not just be a list of former jobs.
You’re going to get a lot of views on how a resume needs to be written. Everyone has their own preferences and ideas about what makes an effective resume. When writing your resume, take the wisdom of recruiters who view thousands of resumes each month and work with serious, top-tier employers to create a document that fully encompasses your professional experience and will connect you to your future employer. The resume is the foundation of transitioning careers and is incredibly important because it is the first impression a recruiter or employer gets. It is selling you and has to impress the viewer immediately if it’s going to get reviewed at all. It should be formatted so it’s easy to read and understand, and will grab attention and hold it with subsequent proper content.
An important question that often comes up concerning resumes is how long they should be. Don’t go over 5 pages. Unless you are a Nobel prize winner, former US president, or similarly extraordinary candidate, in which case you probably don’t even need a resume with all the companies clamoring over you, let 5 pages be the upper limit. Don’t fill your resume with puffery either, it’s not a book about yourself. Just because you can come up with 5 pages about what you've done, doesn't mean you should because it won’t help get you anywhere. The resume must be concise and precise. Its purpose is to showcase your accomplishments, achievements, and contributions, and ultimately solicit contact from the reader. Use as many pages as necessary to effectively communicate your experience. A good banner and summary on page one effectively captures all that you done, so the pages for the rest of the resume will just be dependent on how many relevant years of experience you have, ranging from one page for entry level, to five pages for a career that spans decades.
The most prominent thing on the first page of your resume should be the banner statement. It should capture the viewer’s attention with succinct, useful information. It should be the first piece of information about you as a 5-10 word statement in a 14-16 font. It is meant to work as an advertisement that gives the employer or recruiter a quick insight into who you are professionally, and entice them to take more consideration with the rest of the resume. The banner statement is especially important for longer resumes.
Also very important is the summary, which should be one page one, just under the banner statement. The summary should be written after you have put together the body of the resume because it needs to be congruent with the content. It should focus on your key accomplishments and the professional themes that have emerged across your career. You could also include a table or core competencies here that highlight the skills demonstrated in the later parts of the resume. When employers look at your resume without a summary, they may not be able to get a good sense of what you've done or may not want to sit down and read it in depth if it’s longer. Having a great summary statement will allow them to understand you as a potential job candidate without even reading the whole resume and you will probably be put in the pile to send to the hiring manager for further consideration.
At the very top of the page should be your personal information in a slightly larger print than the rest of the document, including your name, address, home phone, mobile phone, email address, and LinkedIn profile web address. You want to be contacted by whoever receives and review the resume so be sure to offer several different contact methods.
Sometimes the next item on your resume is your education; however this is contingent on your education being relevant. Education can include degrees, certificates, and training. If you are applying for a manufacturing job with 30 years of experience, experience is going to be your selling point so your bachelors in liberal arts degree can be placed on a later page. However, if you have a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and certifications in Manufacturing, be sure to put it on the first page. Keep in mind that you want only the most relevant information of the first page, so if you fall into the first category here, go ahead and keep with the reverse chronology of the rest of the resume and put it after your professional experience. Determine what is going to make you more valuable to the employer.
A common question is whether or not to include an objective on the first page. If your objective is to get a great new job, don’t say that you are looking for a challenging new assignment or seeking a new project to apply my skills. Those statements don’t mean much. The fact that the resume has reached the hands of a hiring manager or recruiter is indicative that you are looking for a new job. If you want a very specific job, such as a CFO position, by all means put an objective down if you don’t want any other accounting or financial jobs. But if you don’t want to limit yourself to a specific job, don’t have an objective in the resume.
Next comes the professional experience section which relays what you have done in your career thus for. Here you’ll have a listing for each of your experiences with bullet points going into further detail. Have a section for each job that puts the company name in bold, where the job was located, the job title and the working dates at the top. The sections should be ordered reverse chronologically, meaning the first will be your current job, and the last your first job right out of college. Many people will only include the experience from their most recent three jobs or the last 10-15 years. Don’t do this. Employers and recruiters want to know the whole story. If your career spans decades, go into greater detail on your most recent experiences and those older than 10-15 years can be reduced to one line, but be sure you do include them. If you held multiple positions within an employer, how you display that will depend on what you want to communicate. If you want to communicate the overall accomplishments you can combine the experience by putting all the job titles together. If you want to show that you have a wide array of job experiences and show advancement, list each job title separately with its own bullet points under the company name. Just be sure that you do list all of your job titles out in some manner to show your progression and development.
Under each position, use succinct and direct bullet points to discuss your accomplishments, achievements, and contributions. If the company you work for is not well known, use the first bullet or a short sentence next to the job title to describe what the company does and its products or services. Whoever is reading your resume will be able to much better understand your experience if they know this. The rest of your bullets should paint a picture of why you were a valuable employee. Don’t simply write a job description of what you were expected to do. Rather, use words such as created, organized, managed, delivered, developed, prevented to tell what actions you took in your position. If you make a claim, you should be able to support that claim, so be sure to include key metrics that define what you accomplished. Show how you helped improved the company’s bottom line If you saved costs somewhere or improved a design, write it down specifically and quantify it. Include things such as created X which saved the company Y, over the past Z or years. Once you have done all this and your resume gives a comprehensive review of what you accomplished in each position, take the key elements to write the summary.
The bottom of the resume should include any additional information that may not be directly relevant to the employer, but is an important part of your career. Some people use this to list their interests and hobbies, but the resume is really not the place for that. Things you would want to list include additional education, training, awards, patents, and publications.
Here are some helpful things to remember when writing a resume
• Use as many bullets as you can. People get tired trying to decipher the key information about of paragraphs. They don’t want to read a novel, they just want to understand what you've done.
• Be sure to put in of key words to give your online resume more visibility. This is becoming increasingly important as employers and recruiters are using job sites to search for candidates more often. However, be careful how you go about it lest you be regarded as a spammer
• Be careful when using acronyms. If you have and Information Technology resume, remember that recruiters and human resource people are going to have a less technological approach. They are an essential part of the process so try to not overuse acronyms.
• Don’t throw in everything and the kitchen sink. Keep your resume focused and to the point. If you are an engineer that worked on a project for two months with a certain type of machine, don’t put down that you are experienced in that machine. The experience is minimal and will not be the reason an employer would be interested in hiring you. Keep it focused on the central them of your career.
• Once you finish writing the resume, give it to someone to read as if they were a hiring manager or recruiter. Make sure they are seeing what you think is important and want the reader to see. Also have them make sure there are no spelling errors.
• If you’re emailing the resume, first email it to another computer and be sure the formatting looks the way you expect it to.