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May 23, 2011
Writing an Effective, Job-Winning Resume

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Article: Writing an Effective, Job-Winning Resume

By Joanna Boydak, LiveCareer

Many job seekers have questions about how to write an effective, job-winning resume. Here are a few top questions career professionals and people looking for a new job are asking...

1. I have heard mixed messages regarding resume length. Do we need to keep it to one page?

Resume etiquette has come a long way, so make sure you are following the current best practices. According to experts, the one page resume rule is an outdated one. Unless the job listing specifically requests one-page, your resume can be as long as necessary to properly highlight your background and skills. If you are an experienced employee, it would be almost impossible to squeeze all of your accomplishments onto a single page, so don't sell yourself short.

2. I've been unemployed for a while and I have gaps in my work history. How do I make this less prominent in my resume?

If you have taken some time off from work or have held multiple jobs in a short period of time, you are a perfect candidate for a functional resume template. This type of template lists your experience in skills clusters, so it relieves the focus on dates. However, no matter which template you choose, if you are returning to the workforce after a prolonged break, the hiring manager will most likely notice. Reduce the chance of rejection by addressing this gap head-on in your cover letter. Just remember to keep it short, professional and leave out unnecessary details.

3. Should I include references, salary requirements or personal information?

The answer in all these cases is no, unless specifically requested in the job listing.

Your references usually come into play after you have jumped the first hoop of the interview process, which is when the employer will ask for them. As far as including "References available upon request," that is already implied, so there is really no reason for you to waste space on stating the obvious.

Listing your salary at previous positions is also unnecessary. You should not announce your desired pay unless the job ad specifically asks for it.

As far as personal information, this is always a no. The closest resume requirement for this would be a photograph of yourself, which you should only include if it is requested up front.

4. What format should I use to email my resume?

Unless specified otherwise, email your resume as a PDF file. PDF files guarantee that all of the formatting will stay the same, it can be opened on a Mac or a PC, and whoever is on the receiving end will not be able to edit or plagiarize your resume.

You should also have a Word version and text version of your resume on hand.

5. I'm changing careers, so should I list previous education and work experience that isn't relevant?

It depends. If you changed careers a while ago and have been working in the same industry for some time, there is probably no need. If you are currently changing careers, the hybrid resume format can help you highlight your transferable skills and relevant experience but will also have a section to outline your entire work history or chronology.

Having trouble identifying transferable skills?

Here is an example: If you're a nanny applying for a human resources position, you can highlight your knack for clear communication, patience, interpersonal skills, and ability to show empathy towards others.

6. I have worked at the same company for over a decade but have held multiple positions. How do I illustrate this in my resume?

Promotions are great --they show professional growth, the fact that your supervisor valued your work performance and promotability! If you have stayed with a single company and have been promoted within, you will want to highlight this in your resume.

Start by listing the company name followed by your most recent job title at the top. Make sure to list the dates for this specific position as well as a job description. Next, list the previous job title and description. Continue doing this until you are through listing all of the job titles held at this organization in reverse chronological order. For the job description, make sure to place emphasis on your increased responsibility and skills.

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