Your resume is one of the most important documents you will ever prepare. It needs to be perfect. Coming out of high school, you may feel you don’t have enough to put on a resume, but it’s not as much about quantity as it is about quality at this stage of the game. If you are a seasoned veteran in the workforce, it may be about highlighting and focusing on key points. In either case, it’s always about presentation.
When preparing your resume, there are a few things you will want to include:
Most importantly, include your name and contact information so they may contact you. However, your address is optional. When it comes to an objective or professional statement, choose wisely. Some employers love these, and some would probably prefer these be left out. You will want to avoid too obvious statements like “Customer service professional looking for a position that utilizes the skills that I have gained through previous employment.” Employers will glean that information from the experience you list (mentioned later), as well as the fact that you are applying for a position in customer service. These statements are best utilized to get employers’ attention and encourage them to read on. One approach would be to include a main statement highlighting your most important experiences and skills relevant to the position you are applying for.
Always list your work history, starting with your most recent job and working back. Be sure to list your job title, the dates you were employed, and some of your top duties and accomplishments. It’s not always critical to list every position you have ever had. Most of the time, you can stick to the positions most relevant to the jobs you are applying for. That said, you will want to avoid gaps in employment, so it may be necessary to list positions even if they are not related to your career goals.
List your education history, including areas of study, dates attended and degree, diploma or certificate status. Be sure to include any special certifications or programs you attended to bolster your skill in certain areas. Employers also like to see if you have or are participating in any extracurricular, community or philanthropic activities; these can tell them a lot about your personality, passions and interests.
Lastly, you will want to include any specific skills you possess, including “proficient in Microsoft Office, fluent in a second language, leadership skills, project management, graphic design, welding, etc. Depending on how you structure your resume, you may want to put your specialized skills at the top right before your work history to highlight them.
- Always provide complete and accurate information using proper grammar, tense, spelling and punctuation. Make sure you use consistent formatting. For example, if you highlight your job duties using bullets for one job, do the same for the rest.
- If you are listing your duties or experience for a job you used to have, use PAST TENSE for each. For current jobs, use the present tense.
- When listing previous employment, use accurate dates. Month and year are sufficient.
- Save your resume and send it as a PDF. It’s much more professional and can’t be easily altered.
- Proof, proof and proof it again. A resume contains a lot of information, and after proofing it time and time again, you may miss something, but rest assured, potential employers won’t miss it. Take the time and make sure it’s perfect. Have a parent, friend, colleague or teacher review it for you. Even seasoned professionals make mistakes on their resumes, and they most certainly get shuffled to the bottom of the stack, ESPECIALLY if the job requires accuracy in written communication.