Career Success Series – Building Your Resume

Resume tips, career success, resume writing

Part of wellness is being happy and our jobs have a dramatic influence on our happiness. My advice, if you’re not satisfied in your current field, position or at your current employer, do something about it. I don’t recommend quitting your job until you have secured another, but start looking. Step 1 in that process is dusting off your resume.

The Cover Letter

A cover letter is an opportunity to introduce yourself as an applicant and summarize your reason for applying. It is somewhat of a sales message that allows you to focus the employers attention on what you have to offer and highlight important soft skills that might not be mentioned in your resume. When writing a cover letter don’t restate what’s already listed on your resume. Instead, expand on those bullet points to paint a fuller picture of your experiences and accomplishments.

Cover letters are not required but if done correctly can help set you apart. It helps personalize the resume and allows the employer to get a brief glimpse in to the person behind the paper. A well written cover letter can make a great first impression, but in that same fashion, if poorly written it can hurt your chances of landing the interview. A cover letter should be written in business letter format, short and to the point and free from spelling and grammatical errors. It’s also important to tailor your cover letter to the role you are applying for.

The Resume

The goal of an effective resume is to highlight and summarize your qualifications so the employer will reach out and schedule an interview. It provides them with a sense of who you are and reflects your professional image. This is your opportunity to demonstrate you have the desired skills and can make a positive impact in the organization. If your resume is well organized and well written the employer should in-turn generate a positive impression and may consider you to be a good fit for the position and/or company.

A typical resume is organized into sections.

The contact information should include your name, city you live in, and the best phone number and email address to reach you at. Including a url to your LinkedIn profile allows the employer to view your professional network as well as your recommendations or endorsements from previous employers, coworkers, mentors and instructors.

The objective, or summary statement, provides a quick overview of what your career goals are. This should be just a sentence or two. Indicate what kind of role you are looking for and what your long term career goals are. Information can also include any industry specific specializations, distinguishing credentials and expertise.

In the education section list any degrees and certifications you have obtained. This is also a great place to list relevant skills and highlight your technical qualifications. If you are a recent grad, highlighting this experience is very relevant so include it near the top. If you are a seasoned professional, your experience is going to speak louder than your education, so it’s better to incorporate near the end.

When listing your previous work experience, start with your most recent job and then list in descending order. Highlight specific goals and accomplishments you achieved in each role and ways you made the organization better. I recommend keeping this section to bullet points, and be specific and to the point. If you don’t have formal employment experience, get creative! Did you babysit? Did you help at a family business during the summer? Include these and what those experiences taught you.

Following the previous work experience and education sections, highlight relevant memberships & affiliations you have, volunteer work you are involved with and special awards you have received. If something doesn’t apply, just leave the category off of your resume.

Additional Tips

Both your resume and cover letter should be well written and error free. Proofreading, and having friends or family proofread your resume, is extremely important. Many hiring managers will pass if your resume contains spelling and grammar errors, especially of one of the desired skills is attention to detail.

Be sure to keep the font style and size consistent throughout your resume. Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman are a few popular choices and a size of 11 or 12 pt are best.

A professional email address should be used, even if you have to create a new one specifically for your job search. Using your first and last name, or first initial last name, are great choices.

And finally, keep your resume brief and to the point. Early on in your career it is best to have your resume fit on one page. Once you have held a number of different positions it’s natural that it will move to two pages, but anything more than two pages is too much. If it’s any longer consider removing roles that might be older than 10 years or revisiting the responsibilities listed under each to refine and shorten.

Recruiters often have hundreds of resumes to go through, so keeping yours brief, specific, and easy to read will help you stand apart and land the interview.

Cover Letter & Resume Samples

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