There are few things more debilitating than searching for a new job. Yet 15 million people in the United States alone are doing just that, trying to distinguish themselves from the competition as the go to person for their particular job. About a decade ago you simply wrote your cover letter with a “Dear Human Resources” or “Dear Company X” to make your resume stand out. Now you better have a lot of experience and some training to boot. Whether scholastically or vocationally, you need something special on your resume that catches the eye. Here are the basics of a sound resume.
Name, Address, Phone Number, Email
This is all that should be in the center of the page at the top of your resume and it should be big without being annoying. Two font sizes larger than everything else is sufficient. Also, avoid strange font. Keep the font in Arial to avoid document transfer issues.
No one cares about your goals so don’t waste your time trying to think of a catchy and original goal that the HR department hasn’t seen before. They are looking at what you know, so tell them. Show them the position you had or the curriculum you studied. Use bullet points to highlight any important projects within that job/curriculum that directly applies to the position you are applying for.
You can use associations as job references and it is considered to be much more professional if you are a member of an organization. It is a good idea to become a member of a professional organization prior to applying for a job you would like to get. Make sure the organization correlates to what you are applying for. There are several grades of membership in professional organizations. Choose the one that is the least expensive.
This is easy for those who have a college education but difficult for those who do not. Remember that your experience is important. There are skills in the field that you cannot learn in a class room and vise versa. Use this to your advantage and be very specific but to the point on why your education/job skills are better than the next applicant’s.
Many people get hung up on this aspect of a job application and resume submittal. This is not important unless they ask for it. Simply have 3-5 people that will give you a good reference. Tell them NOT to mention that you are friends and you will be solid. Old employers always look good as references, by the way.
The cover letter has actually become as important, if not more important than the resume. It lays the ground work for whether you are even going to be looked at as a possibility or not. The number one rule of cover letter writing is to NOT use “To Whom IT May Concern.” This will put you in the trash instantly. Call the company you are applying for and find out who is going to be reviewing your application. If they give you an HR person to talk to regarding your inquiry, talk to them as if you are having a phone interview. See if they are interested in you. Ask for there name and make the letter out to them. Tell them what a pleasure it was to talk to them and how you are looking forward to talking with them again. Remember, you are selling yourself. Sales requires relationships make sales happen.
These are the basics of any resume. There are many companies that are asking for a professional portfolio, but they are few and far between. In any case, if you get the interview, be yourself and go in laying it all on the table. They will know if you are holding back. Also, negotiation is key. If someone offers you $5,000 less than the advertised salary and it works for you, why turn it down? Don’t be greedy and take what you get.