An employer will spend about three seconds looking at your resume before deciding to explore further or toss it into a recycling bin. So make it good.
And make it flexible. Increasingly, employers want to see electronic versions of your resume, or have you apply for positions online. So as you create it, make sure it translates to a variety of programs, including Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader and others.
There are two common types: chronological and functional. Use the one that best highlights your strengths.
Chronological resumes start with your last job and work back through your career. It’s a good resume if your career shows a steady progression of advancement – either in skill sets or positions.
Functional resumes focus on your skill sets and achievements, and are good for careers that span a variety of industries or careers. They can also be good for first-time job seekers, who may have more skills – from a variety of sources -- than experience.
Most job-seekers should limit their resumes to one typewritten page. If you’re a mid-career professional, or have extensive awards and achievements, you may want to consider a second page. Either way, keep it brief.
Use bullet points instead of paragraphs for most information, and keep descriptions brief and meaningful.
Use strong action words, such as “created,” “managed,” or “developed” that show you take initiative in the workplace. And let boldface, italics and capitalization help you draw the reader’s eye to critical information.
Check the spelling. Check it again. Have someone else check it. If you can’t cross the Ts and dot the Is correctly on a resume, an employer will presume you can’t do it in the workplace, either.
Gone are the days when one resume fits all situations. The advantage of modern word-processing is that you can adjust your resume to call attention to experience, achievements or skills that a specific employer will value.
So adjust the resume to meet the employer’s needs. Bold face different aspects that the employer will look for. Delete achievements or skills that have no value to that employer. Add others that might help you sell yourself.
Review your resume at arm’s length. Is it too text-heavy? Confusing? Make sure it’s reader friendly.
Then print your resume on good paper, and save a version on a CD or flash drive to take with you. And save it in different formats: word-processing forms that you can work on and adjust; and PDFs that almost any computer can open and view. Some employers prefer to get job applications by e-mail, and you need to make sure they can read it easily.
Mail your resume with an appropriate cover letter and work samples – if available.
A few days or a week after you’ve mailed your resume and cover letter, follow up with a phone call. Initially, confirm that the employer received it, and if possible, use the opportunity to stress your key assets. Try, if possible to arrange a personal interview. Make sure the employer knows you’re very interested in the job.