Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: The Resume

 Here's Part Three of the Job Hunt Series.
  How to Craft a Bang Up Résumé
Ah, navigating the résumé.  It really is a make or break point of your search, and I'm going to help you make sure yours is excellent.  I've written before on what not to do on your résumé here and here.  Go ahead and check those out, but read ahead to learn about what to do.

Get the right perspective
 The object of your résumé is to get an interview (not a job).  You want to do everything you can to present yourself in the best possible light on one or two sheets of paper.  This means you're not going to be listing everything you've done in your life.  That math award from college?  Your research project on honey bees?  This obscure software?  Unless it's undoubtedly pertinent to the position or company you're applying for, leave it out.  Include the information most likely to get the job you're applying for.  Don't let anything detract from the pertinent info that the hiring manager is actually looking for.

This does mean that you will most likely want to create a few different versions of your résumé.  If you want to apply for a job at the Georgia Aquarium as a penguin caretaker and for a job as a receptionist at a software company, you'll two completely different resumes to send these companies: one focusing on penguin care and one on customer service.  This will let you have versions  tailored and ready to go for all of those positions you're applying for.  Consider even tailoring your résumés for each company you apply for.
Also, make sure the aesthetics or your résumé are absolutely professional.  Keep your format clean and crisp.  I recommend using bold and italics to let your companies and titles stand out rather than a wild and crazy font.  Use bullet points below each of your work experiences to neatly organize the responsibilities you performed there.

Consider your verbiage
Back in college I learned the importance of the words you choose to use on your résumé.  In the bulleted lists under your work experiences, you want to give powerful pictures of what you accomplished.  Take your time and research strong words that will catch the eye.  Adding in numbers and percentages, when available, can give more credibility to your statements, which is always good.  Always include any positive results that came from actions you took, protocols you wrote, social media practices you initiated, or any other things you did on the job.

Consistency and Accuracy
Go over every detail of your résumé for errors and for inconsistency.  Correct all spelling errors and grammar errors.  Take out the periods if they're not closing an actual complete sentence.  Make sure all of the dashes between your dates look the same.  Everything should be single spaced.  All bullet points need to be the same size.  Be scrupulous.  Then have a friend comb for errors, too!  The more eyes you have roving over your resume, the better.

A Résumé Before and After Story
I have an example for you.   I did a résumé revamp for a stranger on the internet recently.  I'm glad I get to show you all some real world application of what I've been talking about.
You can take a look at the before résumé here and after résumé here and see comments I gave the stranger below.  The stranger is applying for a job in the ecology sector, which I know very little about, but thankfully, résumé formatting spans across fields.

Great resume tips

Changes I’m making:
  • Bolder heading on first page so that your name/address/number looks professional and is easy to see
  • No silly old high school awards from 2005
  • I removed your "First Aid at Work" and "City and Guilds" stuff to "Skills". Keep them on your resume ONLY IF these awards are pertinent to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying to work at the Georgia Aquarium and these awards deal with forestry, then listing the awards will just be white noise to the person reading your resume. It could detract from something really important that could sell them on you. 
  • Do the same with your skills. There is so much stuff there, I don’t want to take the time to read it all. I think that a lot of what you have listed can be put underneath your different work experiences. Do that as much as you can, especially with the surveying/conservation stuff. This large wall of text you have is daunting, and it’s hard to find what I might be looking for. 
  • For your technical skills, leave whatever will help you get the job you’re applying for (you might have to switch it up when applying for different jobs), but I’m going to leave just the general stuff. And, I don’t know if identifying solitary bees and wasps is a skill that would get you a job… is it? I really don’t know anything about the ecological sector, but the bees/wasps thing seems very specific.
  • I took out the page number footer.  I don't think it's necessary.
  • I personally don't like personal activities/hobbies sections. You make it clear through your objective statement at the top and through your work experience that you care a lot about wildlife and nature preserves. It’s up to you, but I’m going to take this section out in my version. 

General tips:
  • When you’re going through editing, make sure you are consistent. Make sure you choose to either use “Sep” or “September,” then use the one you choose every time. Even keep an eye out for those dashes between your dates and make sure they all look the same. 
  • It’s no longer required that you keep your resume to one page, but if you can tweak your font size or margins or add a page break so that there aren’t any awkward breaks in your company work sections, try and do that. 
  • Using the bold and italics helps the important information stand out. The bullets below your company and title give you a chance to show your accomplishments and the skills you acquired there. If you have actual figures to share, share them (e.g. Reduced Reserve expenses by x%...). Try to use strong action words at the beginning of your bullet points. I gave you some ideas in my After version, but of course you’ll want to put in the actual stuff you did. 
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. If you change your mind about the ecological sector and you want to go into administration, hype up the administrative tasks you did like filing, copying, faxing, mailing, or whatever.

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