12. 4 great books on resume writing

Resume writing is a difficult task. While you can research information online, or seek assistance from a professional resume services, it is always helpful to have resources on hand that can assist in writing a new or rewriting your existing resume and/or cover letter. The following four books can provide you with a wealth of information on resume writing:

The first book you should consider is called The Elements of Resume Style. It was written by S. Bennett.

This book, as its cover states, will provide you with great advice on writing resumes and cover letters. Here, you will find valuable advice of working through and setting your career goals, marking your qualifications, delivering your resume to your employers and composing your cover letter. The author is not afraid to discuss the commonly made mistakes, the importance of knowing what you want to do in your career, sentence structure, and even salary requirements. This book makes for a great resource for both beginners and experienced resume writers.

The second book is titled Competency-Based Resumes and was written by two writers, Kessler and Strasburg.

Competency-Based Resumes is a great resource for professionals that are confident in their career objective and are searching for a more targeted way to develop their resume in order to get noticed in the specific industry of their interest. The book discusses techniques used by employers at various industries that scan resumes in order to determine applicant’s experience based on their work habits and skills. The book offers you a new and effective way to create resumes that makes your skills and your education the number one priority, and provides you guidelines of highlighting specific areas in order to create a winning resume.

The third book contains 101 Best Resumes and was written by Block and Betrus.

Members of the Professional Association of Resume Writers have come together to provide 101 best resumes for this book. The sample resumes included in this book will show you what winning resumes look like, and help you in creating an effective resume of your own that will get you the interview and the job. The book discusses personalizing your resume to positions that you want, highlighting your qualifications, developing your resume and writing cover letters. In addition, you will get some great advice on what to do once your resume is ready and how to win over your potential employer in an interview.

The last book of choice has Resumes That Knock ’em Dead and was written by Yate.

This bestseller will teach you everything you need to know to get started in resume writing. It is a perfect read for beginners as well as those who have not written a resume in a long time. The author discusses how to gather all the information you will need to get started with writing a resume, how to chose the verbs you include in your statements, select the appropriate format and how to go about submitting your resume via email or the Internet. In addition, this book provides a great sag-way into cover letters, and how to create one that best compliments your resume.

Each of these books can be found in your local bookstore or your library. They provide more than a great starting point; you can hold on to these books and use them as ongoing resources as you move forward in your career.

Electronic resumes – dos and don’ts

There are two most commonly used methods for resume submission: uploading your resume to the employer’s web site or to the resume bank, and e-mailing your resume to the employer. Faxing or mailing your resume is virtually an obsolete practice, because employers are heavily relying on software programs that scan resumes for key words related to the available positions at their organizations. However, printed resumes are necessary for interviews. Thus, as professionals, we essentially have to have two versions of our resume. While there are numerous resources for composing a more traditionally formatted resume, many professionals are not sure how to create electronic resumes that will get noticed. To help you out, here are some dos and don’ts on

• DO create a plain text file of your resume. While you want certain items on your resume to stand out, you should still have a plain text file (.txt file) of your resume. Most employers request a plain text file, because they can run the file through computer software that scans your resume for key words related to the available jobs. When creating a text file, makes sure that you take the time to format the resume; check spacing and adjust any lines of text that seem out of place.

• DO follow instructions of your potential employer. If the employer is asking that you send your resume in the body of the e-mail, do not send them an attachment. Copy and paste the plain text resume you have created into the body of the email; take the time to check for potential formatting changes. Do not try to format the text by making portions of your resume bold, or change the font size or type. While you may have the email editor which allows for this formatting, your potential employer may only accept plain text messages. Stick to the basics for a successful transmission of your resume.

• DON’T save your resume as a PDF. This file type is typically larger in size, and is not very common for an electronic resume, that your potential employer may completely discard your email.

• DO test your electronic resume by sending it to a few friends via email. Because they may be using different e-mail providers, or have different software than you, they can let you know how your resume appears to them. This will help you in uncovering and correcting potential formatting problems, to assure that your resume is in great form by the time it reaches potential employers.

• DON’T make an assumption that including a resume in the body of an email is the only information you should include in your message to your potential employer. Even if the resume is copied into the email, you still need to let your employer know a little bit more about yourself via a cover letter. However, since you will include your address at the top of the email, feel free to start your resume with a career objective instead of including the heading with your name and address.

How to format your resume

Having a well-formatted resume is almost as important as having a well written resume. Most employers receive a stack of resumes of qualified candidates and scan them quickly before they decide whether or not hey want to read further. In addition to key words, what stands out the most about your resume is its format. It is essentially the first thing people will notice, whether on paper or in electronic form.

There are a number of rules you should keep in mind when formatting your resume. First, start with a blank page. Avoid using templates that are already available in Microsoft Word. These templates are outdated, and they will make your resume appear generic and uninviting. Additionally, these templates, while well formatted in Microsoft Word, will not translate well when emailed or uploaded to job search engine web sites. You can find samples of resumes on the Internet; search for resumes by your industry to find the templates that make most sense for the job you are seeking. Than work on a blank page to replicate the look and feel of the resume you like.

Ideally, your resume should fit on one page; if you have extensive experience, limit the length of the resume to two pages, but only list experiences and skills relevant to your career objective. Even if you are applying for a job in a creative field, do not insert images or pictures into your resume. If you are looking to show off your creativity, you can do so in a separate portfolio of your work.

The page should have one inch margins, top and bottom, right and left. Use left justification only – as a rule, do not center the content of your resume. The font and font size should be consistent. Your name, and any headlines in your resume should be displayed in the same manner. Typically, the headlines will be in all caps, and in bold. Try not to underline any of the information in your resume. In the world of Internet driven job applications, underlining in a document implies a web link. Thus, using underlining for emphasis is not appropriate. The font size for headlines should not exceed 14 points; the remainder of the text in the resume should not exceed 12 points.

When trying to align your resume, be ware of spacing and tabbing. Stay consistent in the way that you are spacing out the information on the page. Use tabs, rather than spaces. You always have to anticipate that the person you are sending your resume to may have a different version of the software than you and thus may not see the exactly the same resume you are sending – it is possible that the margins will reset, paragraphs will shift, bullet points will change shape, etc. This is why you must keep the spacing consistent, as well as try to keep the font and the bullet points as basic as possible.

As a last formatting check point, ask your friends or your family for help in reviewing your resume. Send the resume file via email to a few of your friends – ask them to review the resume and make sure nothing seems out of place. Print out the resume on paper and review to make sure that margins are accurately set, and that the content doesn’t appear crowded on the page. Keep in mind – when it comes to your resume, sleek simple appearance, and great writing, will get you the job you are looking for.

Most effective way to state your responsibilities in job descriptions

If you have never written a resume, the blank page you are facing can be very intimidating. While you can describe your job responsibilities to your friends, listing them out in a resume and showcasing how your experience to date meets your career objectives is a very difficult task.

To get started, you must first consider what type of a job you are seeking. Much like your career objective or summery should reflect your professional goals, your current and past experiences must showcase that you are the best candidate for the job you are applying for. In listing your current and past professional experiences, try to focus on those responsibilities that indicate you are qualified to take the next step in your career. Due to the fact that more and more companies as well as job search sites use scanning software to pick out candidates, it is very important that you use key words, including active verbs, to describe your skills. Instead of beginning your job descriptions with “Responsible for” try to use active verbs such as:

– managed

– developed

– created

– communicated

– interfaced

– achieved, etc.

These key words get straight to the point of describing your responsibilities, which is exactly what the employers are looking for. Chose these words carefully – don’t say that you “managed a project”, implying you were responsible for the whole task from start to finish if you were only responsibly for communicating the project to other associates. Instead state that you “Developed and executed the communication strategy for associates,” describing your role more accurately and emphasizing your strengths.

Typically, the first job listed on your resume is the one you currently hold. In this case, make sure that your responsibilities are stated in present tense, as you are still responsible for them. For example, say “Manage accounting activities” instead of “Managed accounting activities.” This will indicate to your potential employer what your day-to-day activities are like and how they compliment responsibilities of the job you are submitting your resume for. All previous jobs should be listed using past tense, and should start with active verbs such as managed, developed, accomplished, etc.

Additionally, make sure that responsibilities you are listing are relevant for to your career objective. List only those responsibilities which help you put your best foot forward. For example, if you are looking for a job that requires managing a team of people, focus on your development and participation in group projects instead of focusing on solitary activities such as office organization.

In terms of formatting, make sure that your responsibilities are listed in bullet points. This formatting is preferred to paragraphs on a resume because it is easier to review quickly. Employers simply scan the resumes and look for key words – if the resume looks overwhelming, with a lot of copy and poor formatting, they will likely discard it. Thus, it is very important that your resume is formatted with enough white space and doesn’t contain any errors.

Resume tips for teachers

Whether you are new to teaching, are coming back to teaching after time off, or are leaving your corporate job for a teaching position, you will need to make sure that your resume and cover letter address the following four questions your employers may have:

1. Why do you want to be a teacher?

This question is very important and you must address it in both your resume and your cover letter. Your résumé’s career objective should have a well-developed statement about your passion for teaching, while your cover letter should elaborate on your goals and your teaching style. Your career objective should be longer than that of an objective found on corporate-driven resumes; it should provide more of a summary of your passion for teaching and your qualifications. Your commitment to students and their education, no matter their level of school, has to be clearly communicated as it is one of the most critical aspects of being a teacher and it can set you apart from other applicants.

2. Do you have the qualifications necessary to be a teacher?

Your education and certifications should immediately follow your career summary statement. The section should be titled “Academic Credentials” and should list all degrees and certifications which make you a qualified teacher. Having proper credentials for the job you are applying for is critical in the teaching field. Point out any cluster of courses you have taken in school that makes you qualified to teach a specific subject. If you have been published in academic journals or have written and published textbooks, create a separate section on your resume for publications. Make sure to include a comprehensive list of all of your credentials on your resume. Don’t sell your self short.

3. What from your professional experience qualifies you to be a teacher?

Unlike corporate-focused resumes, where jobs are outlined in chronological order, teachers have to focus on not only their experience teaching (if applicable) but on any professional achievements that make them a great candidate for the job. If you have prior teaching experience, use a chronological list to showcase your work history. If you are new to teaching, you will need to list any experience you have that helps make you a great teacher. Don’t get discouraged – if you consider your experience, you will find that you have the qualifications to be a teacher, you just need to focus on those meeting your career objective. Use a functional resume format. Do some research and find examples of teaching resumes that you can model your resume after. If you are entering the teaching field with corporate experience, list any training you have developed and thought at your company, for example. If you have recently graduated, list any Teaching Assistantship positions you may have had, or any practical coursework you took part in. You can reference any volunteer work, or community involvement that supports your goal of becoming a teacher. For example, if you have volunteered your time to an organization like Big Brother big Sister, and you mentored a child, note that on your resume. Utilize any experience you may have that demonstrates your leadership, your passion for education, and your ability to motivate and pass on knowledge to others.

4. What are your long term professional goals?

Just like a corporation, the school where you are interested in teaching will want to know not only why you want to be a teacher, but what your long term professional goals are. You should make a brief mention of your long-term goals in your career summary; your cover letter or teaching philosophy should elaborate on your long term goals. Will you be returning to school for a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.? Are you interested in becoming a high school dean in the next ten years, or will you want to teach more than one subject? Are interested in teaching grade school first, and possibly teaching high school at the later time? Do you have interest in becoming a department chair at a university? If you are driven toward a long term goal, make your potential employer aware of it. But make sure that you have an action plan on how to get there – show your employer that you understand what it takes to reach that goal.

Overall, make sure that your resume is error-free, and that you have incorporated key words specific to the teaching field, such as teaching jargon and acronyms. Do your research and model your resume after samples of other teachers, with the consideration of their experience and teaching level. Demonstrate your passion, your commitment to education and your patience – and schools will be sure to take notice.

Make your resume scannable

Most job applications are now done electronically, and most employers, no matter the job level, request a resume from the candidates. Have you ever wondered why employers would request resumes from all candidates, when it can be extremely time consuming to review them all? Employers don’t actually review every resume they receive; companies use various software to scan the resumes they receive for key words and content specific to their available positions. Typically, this is the first round of resume review. Your resume has to make it pass the computer-generated scan in order to make it into the hands of the hiring manager.

While your resume may be well-written and well-formatted, it may not be scannable. This may be the reason why you are not receiving calls from potential employers, even if you have great qualifications for the job. To make your resume scannable, follow these tips:

• Special formatting may cause certain letters in words to touch, and blend into one character. This is especially the case if a word is bolded or italicized. Make sure that you review your resume and revise any parts where letters are joined together, so that the words can be scanned.

• Font type and font size are very important for both your printed and electronic resume. When the resume is scanned, it is important that the font is recognizable by the software. Stick to the basic fonts, such as Ariel and Times New Roman, and to the basic font size, such as 10 or 12 points.

• Do not underline words or phrases in your resume. In an electronic format, underlining implies that the text links to another document or a web site. Additionally, do not have any lines in the resume that touch the text, as this will prevent the resume from being scannable.

• All the text in your resume should read from left to right in order for your resume to be scannable. No special formatting, such as tables, or columns, should be contained within your electronic resume.

• Do not use special characters that may not be recognized by scanning software. This includes special formatting of bullets, use of ampersands or percent signs, copyright signs, or any other characters that may not be easily recognizable by scanning software. If you are quantifying information on your resume, make sure to spell out the percentage instead of using “%” as you are indicating increase in sales, for example. Whenever possibly, avoid using signs or special characters in your resume.

• Even if you submit a printed resume, the document may be scanned for key words to match your qualifications with available positions. It is very important that your submission is on plain white paper, in basic font type and size. If you are submitting multiple pages, make sure that all the pages are numbered, with your name in the top left corner. Do not staple multiple pages. If you do so, only the top page will be scanned.

• The most important element of a scannable resume is the selection of active keywords, or power words. Do your research and make sure that you use the appropriate keywords in your resume that apply toward the position you are seeking. Having appropriate keywords throughout your resume makes it easier for the software to find matches when scanning the document. Helpful tip: review the employer’s job requirements for keywords. What are the required qualifications for the job? Make sure that your resume contains the same terminology as that on the job description, without direct copying of the text, of course. When your resume is scanned, the software will pick up these key words and you can be one step closer to landing your dream job.

Tips on listing publications in your resume

There are many industries where publication of your own work is a critical part of your career development. As professionals in industries that require us to actively publish research studies, essays, articles, textbooks, etc. we have to find ways to account for such publications on our resumes. There are a number of things to consider in respect to publications as you develop your resume.

First, ask yourself how relevant the publications are to your career objective. If you have recent publications that support your career objective, make sure to create a separate heading on your resume and list the publications in reverse chronological order. Follow the AP style when listing your publication, omitting your name from the listing if you were the only author of the text, as that is implied. Do not list publications that do not support your career objective on your resume; while they may be helpful to mention to your potential employer via a cover letter, it is not necessary to take up space on your resume with information that is not directly impacting to your career. If you have submission in progress, or are working on texts that you know will be published at the later time, and they support your qualifications for the job, include them on the resume under a sub-heading of “submitted to (publication name)” or “to be published in (publication name)”. However, if you decide to include works in progress, be certain that they will get published at some point in the future. This is mostly critical for freelance magazine, newspaper or creative writers; do not list every article you have submitted for publication, unless you are certain that it will get published.

If your list of publication is fairly extensive, do not dismiss it completely from your resume. You want your employer to know that you have either published or are in the process of publishing your work. You should create a section within your resume dedicated to publications. Don’t go overboard with the number of publications you list on your resume. List three to five publications, in reverse chronological order in this section. This will give your employer an idea of your work, the publications and audiences you have reached. At the end of your publication listing, include a statement that tells the employer a complete listing of publications can be provided upon request. In your professional summary, or cover letter, you can indicate the total number of publications you’ve had in your career. Create a separate document that includes a complete listing of your publications, following the ASP style. You should make sure that the list of your publication credits other authors properly, as well. You should have a print out of this list, along with your resume that you can bring to any job interview, or forward to the hiring manager at their request. In addition, if asked about your publications, offer your potential employer a copy of any of your articles for their review (although if given the appropriate reference information, your employer, if interested, will be able to locate your publications on their own).

Overall, disclose any information about publications if it supports your career objective and highlights your qualifications for the job. Review the information you list carefully and make sure that names and dates of publications are correct – even minor mistakes can raise questions about your credibility.

Chronological vs. functional resumes

A resume is a one- to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background.

While there are numerous ways to format your resume, there are two main resume styles: chronological and functional.

As its name implies, a chronological resume is one that lists your experience and education in order, starting with the most recent jobs or achievements. This type of resume is sometimes also referred to as reverse chronological resume, because the order of the listing starts with your current employment. This type of resume preferred – employers will want to know what job you currently hold so that they can better asses your qualifications for the job of your interest. The same is true for your education; your potential employer would rather know your most recent scholastic achievement. Listing your experience and education in reverse chronological order also shows your potential employer your overall career progress. It also helps in determining the length of employment at each organization, and indicates any gaps in your career (in case of gaps, make sure to address them in your cover letter as to not lead your employer to believe that you are omitting information on purpose). Chronological resume should list your current job, as well as two to four previously held positions. Don’t skip any employment information on purpose; if your employment history is long, or if you have held jobs further in the past that align well with your current career objective, you can address these qualifications in your professional profile or in your cover letter. Chronological resumes are the most commonly used style, and work best for anyone who has had some professional experience.

Functional resumes focus on your qualifications, not your career timeline. This style of the resume highlights what skills you have, rather than where and when you acquired or utilize them. In other words, instead of listing your experiences by your job titles, your resume will contained sections titled by your skills such as verbal and written communication, customer satisfaction, project management, etc. This resume style is recommended for college students seeking internships or their first jobs out of college, for those with no professional experience, those who have not worked for some time, or for career changers. While potential employers will appreciate the overview of your skills, if you hold any professional experience, consider using the chronological resume, or a combination resume, over the functional format.

A combination resume, although not often discussed, has become a popular format in recent years. As its name implies, it is a combination of chronological resume style and functional resume style. This hybrid style allows professionals to highlight the qualification they have that are critical for the job of their interest, while at the same time listing employment and educational history in reverse chronological order. A word of caution – don’t try to do too much when using a combination resume by going over board with the type and number of sections you include in your resume. It is best to keep the information listed, even in the combination format, to what is relevant for the job.

Same rules apply for each style. Don’t exceed two pages, tailor your resume to your career objective and put your best foot forward in order to get the interview, and eventually the job.

What to do when you don’t have the experience for the job that you want

People think of their resume as a collective of their education, skills and professional experience. Many employers rely on resumes as form of job applications for the open positions within their organizations. Thus it is very important that you have a well-written resume prepared when searching for jobs.

Creating a resume is not an easy task, even if you are a professional with years of experience and many skills. However, composing a resume when you are looking to completely change careers, or when you are fresh out of school is much more difficult, because you do not have any experience to highlight.

If you are changing careers, and nothing from your past professional experience qualifies you for the new job you are seeking, highlight those qualifications that can be transitioned along the various industries. For example, if you’ve managed people, no matter the type of business, you should highlight this under your experience. Rather than not highlighting your professional experience, even if it is not directly related to the job you are seeking, you should consider writing a professional profile, or summary at the start of your resume. The summary will allow you to address the career change by highlighting your skills and how they relate to your career objective. In addition, this is one situation where it is ok to reference any volunteer or community service work that you have done if it can help promote your qualifications for the job.

If you are fresh out of college, and don’t have much to bring to the table in terms of full time professional experience, don’t get discouraged in creating your resume. Focus on highlighting your skills and your education. Avoid using a professional profile, or summary. Rather, list your career objective and start the resume by listing your education. Make sure to mention any awards or honors you received while in school. Following your education, list all the skills that will qualify you for the job you are seeking. Make sure to mention any courses, such as project management or business communication that you have taken and can apply at work. Instead of listing any experience, title the section “Pre-professional Experience” and divide it into categories applicable to your career objective. For example, instead of say that you spent a summer working at the Gap, use a sub-heading of “Customer Relations” and list any responsibilities where you have provided customer service. Tap into any community service, volunteer, or school club positions you have held in order to highlight your abilities and showcase that you are the best candidate for the job.

Don’t be afraid of not having the right experience, or not having any professional experience to include in a resume. Focus on what you can do rather than what you don’t have the experience in doing and you will have a winning resume.

Resume tips for health care professionals

As a health care professional, creating a resume for your field is somewhat different that all other corporate professional resumes. There are certain elements of professional experience and education that play a significant part in the health care industry and make a difference in attracting the employer’s attention. Therefore, to compose a winning resume as a health care professional, you will need to consider and include the following information:

– Indicate how many patients or clients you have taken care of. Whether you are a nurse in a large hospital, or manage financial accounts at the small doctor’s practice, it is important to indicate to your future employer how many people you have dealt with on daily basis, and how you have addressed any concerns that arise from taking care of people in sensitive situations.

– List all of the training that you have acquired, beyond your education that makes you qualified for a specific area in the health care industry. Beyond the training you have completed that is job specific, consider listing any other training in management, communications, ethics, etc. While this type of training may not be required for the job that you are seeking, it does show your employer that you have transferable skills and that you are interested in understanding the broad aspect of the industry.

– Certifications and licenses are a critical aspect of the health care industry. Make sure that you list all your licenses, and their valid dates. Additionally, consider any programs, continuing education courses, or government regulations that you are compliant with; all of these items should be included in your resume. Not only do they highlight your qualifications, but also provide assurance to your potential employer that you meet all the requirements of the city, state and federal agencies in order to be employed in your field.

– Your professional summary must list a clear professional goal. It is important that you demonstrate to your employer that you have a vast knowledge of the health care industry, and that you have a career path in mind. If you are new to health care, use the professional summary to highlight your education and practical work that qualifies you for the position you are seeking.

– Use industry jargon, but exercise caution. Don’t try to replace certain medical terms with common phrases. Feel free to demonstrate your knowledge of the field by using terminology that is specific to health care. However, don’t over use the same terms, or phrases, and don’t use jargon excessively. While you want to give an impression that you know what you are talking about, you don’t want to overuse jargon and turn off the recruiter that may be the initial contact for your resume review.

– Technical skills are necessary, and therefore, you should list them on your resume. Indicate your skills in specific software programs, and don’t be shy about making your computer literacy known to your employer. Health care industry relies heavily on technology and employers actively look for candidates with specific computer skills. Make sure that your resume clearly outlines your technical qualifications.