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February 09, 2009

Critical Resume Tips for Job Seekers

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Critical Resume Tips for Job Seekers

By Carol Y. Holman, M.S

Have you ever sent out a lot of resumes and received little or no response? A good resume should be a powerful marketing tool that will motivate the reader to contact you for an interview. And, although you have the choice of creating a masterpiece by choosing fancy fonts and printing on colored paper, these very things may actually be detrimental to your resume's effectiveness, hinder your chances of getting an interview or employed! What you don't know about the resume very often does hurt you.

First and foremost, the resume format is a critical feature that is determined by three factors:

1. The purpose: What kind of employment are you seeking?
a. Employment in the same field - highlight your accomplishments.
b. Looking to change fields (or career) - feature transferable skills, discuss your passion and how fields may relate.

2. The destination: To whom are you sending the resume?
a. Human Resources Department or Hiring Manager - send scannable resumes
b. Personal referral - provide more in depth information
c. Internet website - stress keywords (first 100 words of your resume)

3. Method of delivery:
a. Faxed or postal
b. Internet / Electronically: Emailed, attached
c. Cut & pasted

There are 2 resume formats: Electronic and Standard

1. Electronic - Focuses on the strength of "Key words" - for electronic selection. Key words are nouns and noun phases that are industry specific.

2. Standard - Utilizes action verbs: Chronological (standard) lists in date order most recent experience. Functional (standard - skills based) - Organizes experience by skills rather than by past.

All resumes must include:

  • Job Objective - what are you seeking?
  • Summary of Qualifications/Key Words/Skills Highlights; use depends on resume format
  • Specific Achievements / Accomplishments - indicates your value
  • Experience - work history
  • Education - and training
Although many suggest, as rule of thumb, that a resume should consist only of one page, this is not always the case; it depends on who's receiving the resume. Your experience in a particular field,or the amount of work history you have may determine the length of your resume.

In an attempt to develop a memorable and impressive resume, colored paper is often used; however, darker colors tend to have a sedative effect on the eyes. When the eyes are tired --- attention is lost. Therefore employers prefer resumes that are printed on the "brightest" of white paper.

Further, many employers utilize electronic applicant screening and tracking technology. These sophisticated scanners convert printed resumes into an electronic document. Artificial intelligence "reads" the text and extracts important information in the form of "key words and/or phases, then ranks or prioritize resumes.

Key words refer to those words and phrases that are used, by the electronic screener, to search documents for "hits". A "hit" is when one of your skills matches a computer search key word. The more skills and facts (key words and phrases) you provide within the first 100 words of your resume, the better your chances will be. The key word resume is a dynamite tool which is more effective than the standard resume when it comes to meeting the demands of electronic screening, selection and tracking.

How to choose "key words or phases"? Look at the job descriptions of several job listings for the type of position you want; be particularly aware of the duties, proficiencies and qualifications required for the position. Highlight the terms you find repeated most. Often these terms, often technical, are the qualifying criteria employers seek. If you have the qualifications, make sure that you use the terms as some of your key words (for they are often programmed for OCR to read as selection criteria).

Electronic (key word) resumes are considered the most powerful for adequately meeting the demands of applicant screening and tracking.

Target your resume to specific opportunities, then you can be more powerful with key words and phrases and do provide examples of specific achievements.

When typing the resume, "left justification" is necessary with no indentations; and save a copy of your resume as "plain text" too.

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