Fundamentals of a Successful Resume

Whether you're searching for your dream job, or looking for employment to pay the bills, a key ingredient to opening the door to such a position is a good resume.  A resume is the first step in getting you noticed by a prospective employer.  Without this literary introduction, an applicant has little chance of being chosen amongst the competition.

The content, organization, and layout of a successful resume is basically nothing more than just good common sense.  However, the process of undertaking the task of generating this important, career-changing pitch should not be underestimated.  There are many capable professionals in today's world whose sole purpose is in the creation of resumes for worthy job seekers.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with hiring these creative individuals and agencies to assist a person with his or her job hunting -- that's their forte in the business world.  But, there are plenty of 'seekers' out there looking for employment who feel they can do an effective job of creating their own resumes.  Hopefully, the information listed here will provide some guidance if you're attempting to do the task yourself.

There are many points to consider if you're writing your own resume.  Ultimately, though, the best advice a person can follow when producing this personal sales pitch is to be honest.  Employers do understand that it's difficult for any one individual to be perfectly qualified for a given job description.  As long as the applicant is decently qualified (and not necessarily totally qualified) for a position, when it comes time to assess the candidates for the job, some parts of the job qualifications may be more important than others.  Honesty and integrity certainly come into play when an interviewer is looking to hire a person.

As far as the presentation and style of the resume goes, there are two primary methods from which to choose--the chronological resume and the functional resume.  Basically, the content of these two methods won't change--it's just how the information is displayed to the employer.  The chronological style lists the jobs a person has possessed in a backward fashion, time-wise.  The most current employment is listed first, and all jobs in a person's career are listed subsequently, from most recent all the way back to a person's first job, if the writer so desires to list employment dating back that far.  The functional resume focuses on a person's expertise for a particular position, highlighting the skills that the writer feels are important for the intended job posting.  Dates of employment may be downplayed or even omitted altogether.  A functional resume may be divided into headings to best show off a person's skill set, such as Management, Teaching, Help Desk/Troubleshooting, etc.  In the final outcome, the resume style you prefer, chronological or functional, is your own personal preference.  However, it's recommended that you do a little research to determine which style lends itself better to the type of job you're pursuing.  A job in the Information Technology field may require a choronological resume, whereas a Management job may lend itself better to a functional resume.  On the other hand, the style of resume you use may depend on how the job posting is listed, so it's really up to the applicant to make the final decision.

Here are a few basic points to remember when creating a resume:

  • All resumes should definitely include the applicant's name, address, phone number, and optionally, email address (preferably at the top of the page), so that the employer will be easily able to know how to get in touch with a prospective candidate.
  • Resumes should appear clean and uncluttered, easy to read, but informative.
  • Don't understate yourself, but at the same time, don't go into lengthy descriptions -- just list pertinent information clearly.
  • Spelling and grammar should be checked and double-checked.  Some employers may be sticklers for little details when reading a document that you are providing them in an effort to sell yourself.  Careless mistakes certainly can't aid in a positive first impression.

Also, a few additional points to consider are things not to include on your resume.

  • Don't list the names of references on your resume.  If desired, include a note near the end of your page(s) stating something like 'References provided upon request'.
  • Don't include salary requirements.
  • Don't give a reason for leaving your last job on your resume.  The employer will more than likely ask you this during your interview, but it's not appropriate on the resume when trying to sell your skill set for a job.
  • Don't make your resume overly long.  One to two pages should be the maximum length.  (However, there may be exceptions to this rule.)

One last bit of advice--don't over-exaggerate your capabilities.  As mentioned earlier, employers appreciate honesty.  If and when it comes time for you to go on an interview, you'll be more at ease if you don't have to cover up for any misrepresentation, and it will also be a lot easier to show a little confidence if you've been upfront about everything you've written.