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Resume Best Practices

Author: Darcy Raven

Before searching for a job you should start by focusing on your resume. Your resume is the first thing an employer will look at and decide if they would like to take the next steps. A resume should show a timeline of background, skills, and accomplishments but without writing a novel of everything you have done. Typically a resume should be a page long, but the more jobs and skills one acquires the harder it can be to fit all information on one page, so if you find it impossible to fit all of your relevant experience on a single page, a two-page resume is acceptable.

Since an employer doesn't need to know every job that you have had since you started working, a resume should be tailored to the position you are applying for. If you are looking for a position in HR then your resume should reflect that and you should include only the positions that have helped develop your skills in HR. The dog walking or babysitting work you have done, no matter how recent, should not be on your resume for that HR gig!

Next, edit your skills and accomplishments. These should be specific and unique to you and your background. For skills list all applications and programs you are efficient in. Certain positions and employers are actively searching for candidates with specific skill sets. So if you are skilled in word, excel, outlook, etc. then make sure that is reflected on your resume. If you possess proficiency in any specific programs relevant to the position or industry you are applying for then definitely include that! For example, if you are applying for a position in tech it is worth noting every programming language, such as python, that you are familiar with.

When it comes to accomplishments be sure to include specific examples that help show off why you'd be a great asset for the company, and avoid cliches. It's worth mentioning awards and honors you've won in previous positions and going over the processes or systems that you instituted to help your previous employer succeed, but employers are not interested in your athletic accomplishments (unless it's relevant). You should definitely avoid listing a generic set of “qualities” you possess, like being good at multitasking or stating that you are a team player. Those qualities are bland and employers will have read the exact same qualities many times before making your resume blend with the masses. Keep your skills, talents, and accomplishments specific and unique!

Lastly, focus on the aesthetics of your resume. All text should be the same professional font, there should be a consistent style on the way you list your roles and duties, and there should be a clear divide between sections and jobs. The top of your resume should have all your contact information, phone, email, first and last name. Then you can list all skills and accomplishments. Next, list your work history. Work history should have the name of the company, how long you worked there, your position, then a short quick summary of your job duties for each position. Your most recent work should be at the top and then you should proceed with former positions in reverse chronological order. Again, you should only list jobs that are relevant and worked within the last 5-7 years. After listing your work then list your educational background. Finally, be sure to spell check and save your resume. It should be good to send out at that point.

Resume writing can be tricky but if you follow the above guidelines you should be able to create a relevant and unique resume. And just to help you a little more here are my last tips for resumes. Have a master resume that lists every job, every skill and accomplishment you've done, that way you have a complete written list to choose from and add to your official resume. Also, make sure to save your resume as a word and PDF doc. Those two versions are best and that’s how you should be submitting your resume. Remember a resume is a brief story of you and your work background, so only add relevant information. If there is anything else you want to show off then remember it and use it as a topic of conversation during the actual interview. And finally, always bring multiple copies of your resume to any and all interviews.

Good luck out there!

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