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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : special coverage : special coverage May 25, 2016

3/22/2013 8:09:00 AM
Resumes and the 6-second glance
By Lillian Kessel
Program Coordinator Educational Opportunity Centers

It takes recruiters an average of 6 seconds before they make the initial ‘fit or no fit’ decision on candidates based on resumes according to career experts. With this kind of competition, you need to have a flawless resume to get through the screening process.

You’re basically selling yourself in a resume so express the information to reflect what your potential employer is looking for in an ideal job candidate. This is different depending on your industry.

Job seekers should study the company’s web site and look for repeated words and phrases, taglines and hints about their policies and practices for their business. When writing your resume, use some of their language to show you share some of their viewpoints.

The following guidelines will help when you start shaping your resume; however, these are only suggestions. Your end product should be well thought-out to convey what will best represent you.

Put your name and

contact info at the top

The first page of a resume should start with your contact information. It tells where you can be reached. Include your name in regular caps, full address, home and cell phone numbers and your email address. Use bold lettering only on your name.

Decide if you want

to include an objective

Experts go both ways on this, so you need to decide for yourself if you want to include an objective.

Some hiring managers say that an objective is the fastest way to pigeon-hole yourself into just one position. If you specify you want to apply for “Proofreader” you may not be considered for “Copy Editor.”

On the other hand, others think that everyone should include an objective and compare it to a “30-second elevator pitch” where you explain who you are and what you’re looking for.

The bottom line is to only include an objective if it’s not generic. Always tailor the objective to a specific business.

The length of your resume should reflect years of experience

Keeping a resume down to one page may be difficult if you’ve had a lot of experience and you’re proud of all of it. But this doesn’t mean it’s all necessarily relevant. Cut it down to no more than two pages.

If you’re in your twenties, your resume should only be one page. You won’t have enough experience to justify a second one. However, if you’ve had more than 10 years of experience, you can add a second page.

Don’t list your

extracurricular activities

Hiring managers only care about what you can do for the company, so if you can’t connect your outside activities to the job you’re applying for, leave them off your resume. If your extracurricular activities are relevant, you can include them at the end of the resume.

Don’t list your references

If your prospective employer wants to speak to your references, he’ll ask you. Be sure you contact your references ahead of time that a future employer might be calling.

Unless the company has specifically asked for something other than a cover letter and resume, don’t send it. Sometimes candidates include unnecessary writing samples, letters of recommendation or transcripts when it’s not required. In most cases, sending these extras without being asked won’t help you, and in some cases it can actually eliminate you by not following directions.

Create your own

resume template

The pre-made resume templates found on word processing programs like Microsoft Word and those found on the internet can be used as a guide, but create your own final copy. Just recently some job seekers have gone to extreme by designing resumes using colorful graphic art, creating magazine coves and creating fold-outs.

With the competition being so fierce in this economy, the designs would certainly make a memorable impression and set these resumes apart from other applicants’. However don’t go to this extreme unless it is appropriate for the industry in which you are interested. Do your research! Find other clever ways to express yourself.

Use the right keywords

Using keywords from job postings in your resume is crucial in our technology-driven world. Many companies now use online recruitment tools to sift through resumes. Not using keywords you risk a chance that your resume will never be seen by human eyes. This would include scanning, uploading and personal websites.

The following postings use very specific wording in describing job requirements, qualifications or skills. Your resume should include some of the exact same words or word phrases within the Skills or Work Experience sections.

Job #1 Requirements: (example): Strong research, writing, word processing abilities

High level of flexibility in a deadline-oriented environment; Maintain confidentiality and handle details accurately.

Familiarity with Macintosh; FoxPro and FileMaker Pro

Job #2 Requirements: (example): Data Entry Skills, Analyzing Information, Quality Focus, Productivity, Time Management, Organization, Professionalism, Attention to Detail, Financial Skills, Documentation Skills, Reporting Skills

Which words would

you choose as ‘Keywords”?

Only include relevant work experience. Keep your resume focused and include information that is relevant to a specific job. If some of your past experience has nothing to do with the job you want, don’t include it. If you have minimal work experience, emphasize your transferable skills, which are the ones that you can use from one job to the next regardless of the position.

Keep information about your

education as short as possible

When writing about your education only include more significant information: the name of your school/college, city, state, your degree, and the year you graduated. If you are a new graduate, list courses taken that are valuable in the position you are seeking. Do not use high school education and activities unless you’re under 20 and have no education or training beyond high school.

Use a chronological

resume format

The chronological resume (really reverse-chronological) is the format most often used. A functional resume doesn’t include a chronological job history, but instead focuses on skills and abilities.

People tend to use functional resumes when they’re trying to hide an employment gap, or job-hopping or outdated skills. However, a potential employer will ask about any information that is missing and pertinent.

If you’ve been unemployed for a while and you’re afraid a chronological resume format will work against you, include any volunteer work, classes you took or training you had during this gap and use it as an asset. Employers want to see what you’ve been doing if you haven’t been working.

The little things count

Use bullet points to list responsibilities and accomplishments. Under each job or experience you’ve had, list your responsibilities and accomplishments in no more than three to five bullet points

Don't use full sentences. Readers don’t spend a lot of time on each page. Full sentences are time consuming and exhausting to read in today’s world.

Use plenty of white space to draw the reader’s eye to specific items. Make a resume pleasing to the eye and keep the style consistent throughout your resume.

Make it professional. Remember that you are competing with equally-qualified candidates. A resume with typos, poor grammar and misused words or a resume that doesn’t quite catch attention will not get a second look.

The goal of the resume is to get you an interview. These tips may be helpful when creating your resume. But remember, this document is a reflection of you. Put your best efforts into it.

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