Polishing Your Resume

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Resumes often make or break applicants for positions they attempt to land. When hunting for prospective employees, human resource types often scour dozens of resumes in search for just the right applicant. Against the sheer number of competitors, one must perfect his or her resume in order to stand a chance in the hunt for new employment.

For starters, it is important to send your resumes from a professional-sounding e-mail address. If Homer Simpson were looking for work, he would not want to use his e-mail address Chunkylover53@aol.com to send his resumes from. Instead, he might want to open another e-mail account, such as HomerJSimpson@yahoo.com.

Assuming your e-mail address is squared away, the resume itself is the main subject of concern. It is most important to portray your accomplishments on the job throughout the resume instead of your job responsibilities.

“To make a resume really strong, you want to focus on results,” said Kim Isaacs, Director of Resumepower.com, Monster.com’s resume expert since 1999. “The number-one problem that I see on resumes is that people focus on their day-to-day responsibilities and not their accomplishments on the job.”

Employers are constantly gauging prospective employees by asking, “What can this person bring to my company if hired?” When employers look at resumes that focuses on results, they will see what prospective employees have done to better their prior company instead of seeing that company’s handbook definition of their previous position.

“What’s also very important is the inclusion of keywords in your resume,” Isaacs adds. “Keywords are going to help you get found in an applicant search. They can either be a job title like network administrator, specific skills, certifications like a MCSC, or anything the employer would type in for a search. A good way to figure out keywords is to look at job descriptions for your field by going to a site like Monster and look at the terminology the employers are using.”

As far as listing specific certifications on your resume, Isaacs recommends that one place the specific logo associated with the certification along with listing it on paper. “On a paper resume, a logo will really stand out from other candidates who don’t use the logos. You can set up a specific tech certifications section if you have more than one, or it can be included in an education section as well. When listing certifications, I would say you would want to keep them toward the top of the resume. Certifications are very important and they help people stand out in the crowd. The higher up it appears in the resume, the better.”

It is also important as an applicant to appear as up to date as possible. For instance, it would be detrimental to list antiquated program knowledge and certifications on a resume because an employer might get the impression that you are resistant to learn new programs or stay on top of the industry.

For recent graduates or those who have been in the field very long, Isaacs points out that it’s important to illustrate your potential to succeed in the field by listing coursework and other related extra-curricular activities you might have participated in during school. “Young applicants are in a classic Catch-22 in that it is hard to get a position without experience, but it’s impossible to get experience without being hired. It’s a matter of showing class work and transferable skills that would be important in succeeding in their new field.

“If you’ve been self taught in any programs that may be considered advance, that should go down in the resume as it shows an aptitude for learning advanced technical skills. Employers also find soft-skills very important as well,” Isaacs explains.

Candidates that have served as interns or apprentices prior to applying for different positions would want to highlight these as work experience as well. “Internships can be treated as real jobs and included in the professional experience section because it is experience regardless of whether they were paid or not. When listing these positions, it is important to distinguish them as internships to ensure employers that you weren’t simply job-hopping.”

To build a resume from scratch, you can use resume-builder programs on job-search sites. These builders walk you through every field and construct a template that is functional and that would serve as an excellent place to start refining and tweaking.

“Be sure to make your resume readable to just about anyone that may be looking at it,” Isaacs said. “It shouldn’t sound like a dissertation or a white paper. An HR screener will likely read your resume, and you want to make it clear, succinct and easy to understand to ensure that your key credentials are highlighted. If you go past one page, make sure that your most important qualifications are on page one as some people may not get to page two.”

Isaacs explains that a combination resume, or a hybrid resume as it is sometimes known, often works well for just about any job seeker in the market. The combination resume begins with a qualification statement and then leads into a reverse-chronological professional experience section.

Also, it is vital to assume nothing when drafting a resume. Technical summaries should spell out exactly what you know to a hiring manager. Listing the programs you have experience with, broken down into categories, will tell the employer everything he needs to know about your technical background. It also helps to get more keywords into your resume, which will increase the number of hits you receive.

All this information and work is for naught if you forget to proofread your resume before sending it to employers. “Fifty percent of our clients are technical professionals, and a lot of times their old resumes are riddled with typos. Your resume is a direct representation of you, and it should be perfect and error-free. If you’re not so great at catching little mistakes like that, show your resume to someone that is,” Isaacs said.

A resume often makes the difference between getting the job and getting a rejection call. Tuning, refining and tweaking your resume with these tips in mind will certainly set you in the right direction to finding your new dream position.

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