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InsIder Killer Cover Letters and Resumes 4TH EDITION GuIde
InsIder Killer Cover Letters and Resumes 4TH EDITION
InsIder Killer Cover Letters and Resumes 4TH EDITION

InsIder

Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

4TH EDITION

InsIder Killer Cover Letters and Resumes 4TH EDITION

GuIde

Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

WETFEET, INc.

The Folger Building 101 Howard Street Suite 300 San Francisco, CA 94105

Phone: (415) 284-7900 or 1-800-926-4JOB Fax: (415) 284-7910 Website: www.wetfeet.com

KIllEr cOvEr lETTErs aND rEsumEs

4th Edition ISBN: 978-1-58207-741-3

PHOTOcOPyINg Is PrOHIbITED

Copyright 2008 WetFeet, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America. No copying in any form is permitted. It may not be reproduced, distributed, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, in part or in whole, without the express written permission of WetFeet, Inc. The publisher, author, and any other party involved in creation, production, delivery, or sale of this WetFeet Insider Guide make no warranty, express or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of the information found herein. To the degree you use this guide or other materials referenced herein, you do so at your own risk. The materials contained herein are general in nature and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. Under no circumstances shall the publisher, author, or any other party involved in creation, production or delivery of this guide be liable to you or any other person for damages of any kind arising from access to, or use of, its content.

All illustrations by mckibillo

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Analyze

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Top-Level

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Formatting

 

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Optional

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Resume Layout

 

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The Resume

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Special Cases

 

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Sample Resumes

 

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Don’t Ruin

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Resume Dos and

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6 7 8 9 10 85 WrITINg 101 DIgITal 109 grEaT 117 FrOm 125 FOr yOur

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Using Online

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Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

4th EDITION

Resumes and Cover Letters at a Glance 1
Resumes and Cover Letters at a Glance 1

Resumes and Cover Letters at a Glance

1 Resumes and Cover Letters at a Glance

Resumes and Cover Letters at a Glance 1

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Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

at a Glance

30 sEcONDs TO saTIsFy

• Your resume has one primary purpose: to help determine if you merit an interview. A well-constructed resume by itself won’t win you the job.

• A resume and cover letter are marketing tools designed to get the attention of potential employers, and interest them in learning more about a quality product—you.

• Your resume must make you stand out quickly. The typical resume reviewer will spend less than 30 seconds looking at your materials.

• In a nutshell, your resume and cover letter are less about where you’ve been than about where you want to go next.

ON yOur marK, gET sET, PrEP!

• Start by determining what you have to offer:

Examine your employment history, educational experience, membership in academic or professional organizations, and volunteer or community activities. In addition, write down your top accomplishments.

• The top qualities that most employers want sometimes have little to do with work experience—such as communication skills, honesty and integrity, interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic, and teamwork skills.

• Pay close attention to the things you do well, because they help shape your most valuable professional attributes. Don’t forget to incorporate your talents and natural abilities into your resume prep list.

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• The chief aim of history gathering is to identify transferable skills to highlight on your resume. These include analytical and problem-solving skills; the ability to produce results; evidence of intellectual achievement, leadership and teamwork skills; and specific industry and job expertise.

THE rEcIPE FOr rEsumE succEss

• Create a master resume that includes all of the resume elements you might use, as well as a full selection of achievement statements, coursework, volunteer activities, hobbies, and anything else you might use on a job application.

• The essential parts of your resume include the heading (which displays your contact information), an education section, and a work experience section.

• Optional parts of a resume can include an objective statement, summary of qualifications, a profile, and additional information. Your decision to include or omit optional parts depends on your background, experience, and career path.

• Effective resumes are “action-packed!” So after you’ve sketched out your experiences on your master list, write them as achievement statements, which emphasize actions and results.

WrITINg aND FOrmaTTINg yOur rEsumE

• Entry-level candidates and those with five years of experience or less should limit their resumes to one page. Experienced professionals should write no more than two pages.

• Your goal is to distill everything you need to say into a few carefully chosen words and bullet- pointed sentences that are easy to scan.

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• There are two basic ways to layout a resume:

chronologically and functionally. Use the format that best reveals your strengths for a particular job.

WrITINg a TasTy cOvEr lETTEr

• Like a good appetizer, all cover letters have one main purpose: to whet your readers’ appetite, get them interested enough to move on to your resume, and then want to interview you.

• Every cover letter needs to address three areas:

why you’re writing, what you have to offer, and what happens next.

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• The three steps of effective research include analyzing the job description, contemplating the company and investigating the industry.

• Before you prepare your resume and cover letter, get in touch with someone in your field who can help answer questions about what makes

a good candidate. If you don’t know someone

on the “inside,” try using personal contacts or professional associations.

FrOm rEsumE TO INTErvIEW aND bEyOND

 

If

you have submitted your resume and cover

• There are three types of cover letters: those that respond to a specific job opening, those directed to a specific person, and those that serve as letters of introduction.

letter directly to someone in the company, follow up with a phone call or send an email to reiterate your desire to learn more about the position. Don’t become a nuisance, but do be persistent.

DIgITal DElIvEry:

The thank-you letter shows gratitude for the

PrEParINg INTErNET-rEaDy maTErIals aND aPPlyINg ONlINE

time the employer has taken to review your qualifications, and it’s an opportunity to

• Make sure all your digital materials are in accessible, printable formats.

reiterate the fit between the position and your qualifications and goals.

• Save four versions of your resume: a Word document for printing, a PDF for email attachments, a plain text version with line breaks for the email body, and a plain text version without line breaks for online forms.

• Don’t be afraid to use online application systems, especially if a firm directs you there. Follow the instructions precisely, complete the entire application, and choose keywords carefully.

grEaT rEsEarcH: THE KEy TO TaIlOrINg yOur maTErIals

• Whatever your background, you won’t get far in the job market without doing the research that enables you to tailor your resume and cover letter to address each employer’s needs and to start getting ready for an interview.

FOr yOur rEFErENcE

• Want more info to create your killer resume? Check out our list of recommended reading and research.

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30 Seconds to Satisfy 2 Looking Good on Paper 6 The Bottom Line 9
30 Seconds to Satisfy 2 Looking Good on Paper 6 The Bottom Line 9

30 Seconds to Satisfy

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30 Seconds to Satisfy 2 Looking Good on Paper 6 The Bottom Line 9
30 Seconds to Satisfy 2 Looking Good on Paper 6 The Bottom Line 9

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Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

lookInG Good on PaPer

You’re ready to begin the job hunt. You’ve researched the types of positions you want and the companies for which you want to work. Now you just need to whip together a resume and proceed, right? Sounds simple—but writing a resume that raises you above the pack and conveys your perfect fit to an employer is a challenge indeed, especially if you take into account that many recruiters spend less than 30 seconds scanning a resume before sending it to the “yes” or “no” pile. You’ve got the goods: experience, education, personality. But how do you sum up a lifetime’s worth of hard work and accomplishments in one or two pages of text?

rEsumEs aND cOvEr lETTErs arE marKETINg TOOls

The first step to creating killer resumes and cover letters is to understand what they really are and how to best use them in a successful job search. Most people think a resume is a document that traces one’s work history and skills. The cover letter is a formal accompaniment to the resume, intended to introduce a job candidate. But resumes and cover letters are also much more than that. They are marketing tools to get the attention of your desired audience—potential employers—and interest them in learning more about a quality product: you. How do consumer products companies get us to buy their products? Marketing. How do financial services companies attract more customers? Marketing. How do political candidates move their campaigns forward? That’s right, marketing.

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Viewed this way, it’s easy to see how important a killer cover letter and resume are to a job search—and how much potential these marketing tools have. But any successful marketing campaign requires a carefully crafted message that speaks directly to the needs of its audience. Your resume should make recruiters say, “Yes! This is exactly who we need. I want to meet this candidate to learn more.”

aDOPT THE rEcruITEr’s POINT OF vIEW

Many job seekers make the fundamental mistake of viewing the job search in terms of their own needs and desires. While these are certainly important factors in finding a fulfilling job and career path, this isn’t the most effective way of approaching employers. Rather than viewing your target employers from the outside looking in, view them from the inside and place yourself in the recruiters’ shoes. You need to understand what employers look for in the initial review of applications, and what qualities will lead you to the next stage in the hiring process—the interview. To get a sense of the employers’ perspective, check out this bit of information: Recently, ResumeDoctor. com contacted more than 5,000 recruiters and hiring managers throughout the U.S. and Canada regarding the success of using online job postings. More than 92

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tIP

> tIP On average, most recruiters spend less than 30 seconds scanning a resume before sending

On average, most recruiters spend less than 30 seconds scanning a resume before sending it to the “yes” or “no” pile.

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percent of those surveyed reported being inundated with irrelevant responses to their job postings. Most participants indicated that they receive hundreds of responses per online job posting.

Additional complaints included:

• Resumes that don’t match the job description.

[71%]

• Job seekers “blasting out” unsolicited resumes.

[63%]

• Job seekers failing to follow specific submission instructions found in job posting. [34%]

Did you hear that, folks? The number-one complaint from employers is that most resumes they receive don’t match the posted job description—that is, most applicants are not fulfilling employers’ needs, or even trying to. While the high number of responses to job postings may be an obstacle, the lack of preparation (not to mention customization) by most job seekers represents a distinct advantage for the savvy resume writer, soon to be you after reading this guide.

resume writer, soon to be you after reading this guide. “Most online job postings bury recruiters

“Most online job postings bury recruiters with literally hundreds of resumes. The ease with which job seekers can respond to postings online is now their greatest obstacle.” —Mike Worthington, cofounder, ResumeDoctor.com

—Mike Worthington, cofounder, ResumeDoctor.com aT a glaNcE > tIP To keep your message
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> tIP To keep your message targeted and successful, be prepared to customize your resume for

To keep your message targeted and successful, be prepared to customize your resume for each potential employer. At the very least, you’ll need to present a custom resume for each kind of job you pursue.

TargET yOur mEssagE

A successful job search requires planning and

organization. You may be mentally vowing to research employers and career paths, network with all your contacts, and send out your prospecting letters. But the first and foremost step is to take a wide view of your entire work history, skills, personal interests, and life path to determine your overall direction. Your work history should appear as a series of thoughtful steps leading up to the present, rather than a haphazard collection of experiences gained through chance and whim. Your path isn’t that linear, you say? Then it’s your job to select carefully what to feature from your work history and skill set to present an organized picture. A successful resume presents an employer with a clear path—and in the best cases, that clear path leads

directly to the employer’s job opportunity. To light the way, you’ll need detailed knowledge of your own skills and work history, as well as knowledge of the employer

to which you’re presenting your resume and of the job

opening. If you’re simply introducing yourself to an employer to prepare for future opportunities, knowing what the employer may need or want is just as crucial. Once you’ve made a thorough assessment of your own skills and work history, community activities, education, even hobbies, you can judiciously select the most enticing bits to present to a particular employer. And what’s enticing to one employer may not be as appealing to the next—that’s why you’ll need to know something about what an employer may need from

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Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

you. To keep your message targeted and successful, be prepared to customize your resume for each employer. At the very least, you’ll need to present a custom resume for each type of job you pursue.

cONNEcT THE DOTs

From your self-assessment and employer research, you should be able to find the connections between

your skills and the employer’s needs and draw a path between the two. Let’s say that you’re applying for

a job as a design director for a magazine, but you’ve never held this specific position before. You have, however, worked as a print production manager for

a publishing company, and a graphic designer for

an advertising agency. In college, you minored in visual art and worked at the campus daily newspaper. You’ve also volunteered as a docent at a local modern art museum and done some additional freelance design work. At first glance, these might seem like a collection of experiences only tangentially related to a job as a design director. But let’s start from the beginning of the path in college. You have hands-on visual arts skills and worked on a fast-paced periodical, the campus newspaper. To that, you added experience as a graphic designer, showing that you have first-hand experience in the graphic art industry, know how to put designs together in a real-world context, and have used design in marketing endeavors for the ad agency. Your volunteer work as a docent at the modern art museum highlights your personal interest in the visual arts. Your freelance graphic design work shows that you have the ability to manage projects from concept to completion, not to mention an entrepreneurial bent. And finally, you’ve proven that you can manage both projects and other workers with your experience as a production manager. This chain of experiences draws a reasonable path to a role as a design director for a print periodical. The experiences may not have been sequential, but the way in which you present them can still clearly show how you would fit into the new role.

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What about entry-level candidates without much work experience? The same technique applies, but you’ll need to draw from your education, extracurricular activities, volunteer or community work, and personal interests. Altogether, the skills, experience, and interests you present should clearly point to the job opportunity as the natural next step in your progression. This may seem like an overwhelming task if you’re just getting started. But don’t worry—we’ll take you through the process step by step. For starters, you’ll learn about the best ways to prepare for your job search, including how to determine and articulate your strengths, research companies and jobs, and customize your presentation toward desired positions and organizations. Next, you’ll get the full scoop on how to create a killer resume and cover letter—from what information they should (and shouldn’t) contain to how they should look and read. Multiple cover letter and resume examples, as well as suggestions for creating layouts that suit your unique needs, will give you great ideas for how your own materials should come together. The section on special concerns examines common problem areas—such as international careers, “overqualified” candidate syndrome, or big chronological gaps— with helpful tips for addressing them. The final section contains suggestions for following up on your application, as well as resources that will help you in your job search.

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tIP

> tIP In a nutshell, your resume and cover letter are less about where you’ve been

In a nutshell, your resume and cover letter are less about where you’ve been than about where you want to go next.

a TasTy

the Bottom lIne

At best, resume readers spend 30 seconds reviewing a cover letter or resume the first time. This is especially true in a competitive job market where recruiters may receive up to 200 responses to a single advertised job posting. In 30 seconds, your cover letter and resume package need to convey an image of who you are, your capabilities and strengths, and how you’ve used your abilities to achieve results. Ideally, it indicates that you know yourself well and have a firm grasp on what you bring to the table. In a nutshell, your cover letter and resume are less about where you’ve been than about where you want to go next and how you’re qualified to do so. Although insiders tell us “there isn’t one right answer” to the question of how to create a good cover letter or resume (phew!), they say that the best ones are concise, results-oriented, and very clearly presented. Of course, a great resume alone won’t land you the job of your dreams, but appropriate choices in shaping your materials make you far more likely to get a call, and can even help you sail more smoothly through the interview process. This guide will show you the way.

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Prep! 3 Determine What You Have to Offer 12 Analyze
On Your Mark, Get Set, Prep! 3 Determine What You Have to Offer 12 Analyze

On Your Mark, Get Set, Prep!

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Determine What You Have to Offer

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Analyze Your Skills, Abilities and Achievements

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Mark, Get Set, Prep! 3 Determine What You Have to Offer 12 Analyze Your Skills, Abilities
Mark, Get Set, Prep! 3 Determine What You Have to Offer 12 Analyze Your Skills, Abilities

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determIne What You have to offer

Ever get stuck watching Uncle Fred’s travel slides? Time ticks by mercilessly as Fred displays endless photos while giving excruciatingly detailed descriptions of people you will never meet and places you’d never want to visit. Whatever you do, don’t let your cover letter and resume become like Uncle Fred’s pictures. Always keep your audience in mind, and include only the highlights of your experiences. Before you begin writing, take a good look at yourself. Which elements of your years of wisdom, experience, and accomplishment belong on a couple of sheets of paper, and which don’t? What characteristics make you stand out from the crowd but also show that you’re a team player? What kind of candidate does your target employer usually hire? Be prepared to think through your activities and achievements and tell your compelling life story in one to two pages. In addition to knowing all of the factual information about yourself—including grades, test scores, and dates of employment—think about how to portray yourself in a positive, confident light while telling the true story of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You must have insight into your strengths and weaknesses to create a compelling resume and cover letter. Get started by cataloguing all of your knowledge areas, skill sets, and abilities. There’s no need to get fancy here—just brainstorm and create a comprehensive list. Your knowledge areas will be drawn from your education, past employment, vocational training, and professional certifications. Your skills and abilities, on the other hand, have been developed through a variety of life experiences, including your past internships, volunteer work, and other career-related activities.

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Following are the main areas to consider when listing your accomplishments, skills and abilities.

EmPlOymENT HIsTOry

The best way to get started building a resume is to map out your employment history. When evaluating a potential candidate, employers first will look for previous experience in areas similar or related to the position being filled. Prepare a chronological list of the major jobs you’ve held. Include the company names, your titles, managers’ names, the time you spent in those positions, starting and ending salaries, and primary responsibilities. Remember, not all of this information will go end up on the resume; you’re just collecting details that form the “big picture” of your employment history. Seeing your work history laid out will help you identify upward trends in your career, such as responsibility, increased salary, or other advancement. Your employment history will also reveal any gaps that you’ll need to address on the resume or in the interview.

EDucaTIONal ExPErIENcE

Gather your school transcripts, standardized test scores, scholarship applications and awards, and any other information that may help you paint a picture of your academic accomplishments. Calculate your GPA, because you might need this information at some point. If you’re concerned about your GPA, calculate it using several cuts—overall, major- only, or by year—to see which provides the most favorable view to note on your resume, or at least mention in the interview, if asked. Always use a standard 4.0 scale. Review your school curriculum and make note of any special areas of study. What was your major? Did you have a minor? Did you take any special courses, such as business communication, economics, media, or art history? These areas of knowledge may be helpful in applying for certain jobs.

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Look, too, at your academic record from a skills-and-abilities perspective. For example, did you undertake any special projects or collaborative assignments as part of your courses? These may be evidence of teamwork and group leadership abilities, talents that most employers prize. As you will read shortly, your aim is to sift your experience—from whatever source—for transferable skills.

mEmbErsHIP IN PrOFEssIONal Or acaDEmIc OrgaNIzaTIONs

Are you or were you a member of any academic or professional organizations, societies, and committees? Make note of any organizations in which you are or have been involved and describe the role you played in each. Write down any notable achievements or how you helped these organizations fulfill their aims. Again, entry-level candidates and career changers may be able to use their memberships in organizations to their advantage while applying for new positions.

vOluNTEEr Or cOmmuNITy acTIvITIEs

Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable experience that can be applied to a job. Make note of any community activities in which you’ve participated. Do you volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister? Part of the Rotary Club? Deliver meals during the holidays? All of these activities can be sources of valuable experience to present to an employer. Not only that, but extracurricular activities such as these also tell an employer something about your motivation, character, values, and work ethic. For entry-level candidates without a lot of work experience, volunteering is a great way to get some experience! Volunteering also has the added benefit of introducing you to potential references and networking contacts.

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TOP accOmPlIsHmENTs

List the most significant accomplishments from your professional, academic, and personal experiences. Write down each achievement; then explain why it is significant to you, how you achieved it, how others helped you, and how you measure its success. You will need to include information about at least two of your top accomplishments in your resume, preferably with an indication of the results you achieved. Why take this additional step? Effective resumes are outcome-based. They stress achievements, and don’t just list duties and responsibilities. The easiest way for an employer to predict your potential value to the company is to study your record of accomplishments. If you only list what you did—as opposed to what you achieved—you risk hiding your unique contributions. We’ve urged you to look beyond your work history when listing what you have to offer in your next job. Why? Put simply, a career is developed through an accumulation of life experiences, both in and outside of the workplace. Wherever you are in your career, it’s to your advantage to draw from a variety of professional and personal experiences when presenting your skills and abilities to an employer.

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analYze Your skIlls, aBIlItIes, and achIevements

Entry-level and internship candidates may feel

especially challenged when it comes to proving their mettle to potential employers. Don’t worry. The top qualities that most employers want sometimes have little to do with work experience. To understand why this is so, consider employers’ responses to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2007 survey, which asked employers to rate the importance of a candidate’s qualities and skills on a five-point scale, with five being “extremely important” and one being “not important.”

Here are their top five responses:

• Communication skills (4.7)

• Honesty/integrity (4.7)

• Interpersonal skills (4.5)

• Strong work ethic (4.5)

• Teamwork skills (4.5)

The attributes in the preceding list are the ones employers designate as the most desired year after year. Fortunately, your educational achievements, extracurricular and community activities, or special projects can reveal these attributes in abundance.

HarD aND sOFT sKIlls

As we suggested already, you may need to learn to look at skills from a number of angles. Employers and recruiters often separate professional skills into two sets: “hard” skills and “soft” skills. Hard skills typically include the more left-brained areas, such as programming, mechanical aptitude, finance, accounting, marketing, operations, and strategy. Soft skills are the right-brained areas, such as communication, interpersonal skills, collaboration, leadership, motivation, and creativity. You may see soft skills referred to sometimes as adaptive or self- management skills. During the technology boom of the ’90s, many employers tended to downplay the importance of soft skills, but in today’s employment market, soft skills have gained a whole new respect. This is not to say, however, that the hard skills aren’t important. Most successful job candidates display a balance of both skill sets. So, to escape any value judgment inherent in describing skills as “hard” and “soft,” let’s recast them as “functional” and “strategic” skills instead. A successful resume displays a reasonable balance of both areas because hiring managers are seeking both skill types, preferring a well-rounded candidate who has a solid knowledge base and the personal traits to succeed. This presents a challenge to candidates with scientific and humanities backgrounds alike. Those applying for technical positions need to demonstrate some strategic skills, such as teamwork and communication, while those applying for non- technical positions would benefit from revealing some functional skills, such as marketing, finance, or computer skills.

To find out more about the NACE Job Outlook sur vey, please see the resource section at the end of this guide, or visit www.naceweb.org.

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abIlITIEs aND TalENTs

Your abilities and talents can reveal skills that you may not have considered. While skills, especially functional ones, are learned, abilities or talents are things at which we naturally excel. Equally important, your abilities and talents usually point you to the jobs at which you’ll probably be happiest and most successful. Good at making friends? Then your interpersonal skills must be top-notch! Great at last-minute Halloween costumes? Then you must be highly visually creative! Never need to look at the instructions when assembling IKEA furniture? Then you must have superior mechanical aptitude! Be sure to pay close attention to the things you do well, because they probably help shape your most valuable professional attributes. So, don’t forget to incorporate your talents and natural abilities into your resume prep list.

IDENTIFy TraNsFErablE sKIlls

The chief aim of all your history gathering and soul searching is to identify the transferable skills that you’ll highlight on your resume. What are transferable skills? Basically, they are skills and abilities that are useful in a variety of jobs. Which skills you choose to “transfer” onto your resume depends on the particular requirements of the position and the corporate culture of each company you’re targeting. The list of questions following each skill set will help you identify your transferable skills and what you’ve accomplished with them. These questions should also help you see that skills or expertise developed in one context can help you prepare for a successful career in another.

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you prepare for a successful career in another. aT a glaNcE TOP FIvE THINgs EmPlOyErs lOOK

TOP FIvE THINgs EmPlOyErs lOOK FOr WHEN rEvIEWINg a rEsumE

5.

A well-rounded candidate

4.

Something that makes you stand out from all the others who are applying for the job

3.

A balance of work (or academic) and life experiences

2.

Someone who went to the interviewer’s alma mater (not that she’s biased)

1.

A typo—so the recruiter can throw it out

who went to the interviewer’s alma mater (not that she’s biased) 1. A typo—so the recruiter

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analYtIcal and ProBlem- solvInG skIlls

Analytical and problem-solving skills are

critical components of many jobs, particularly in business and scientific fields. For example, they are fundamental to your success in industries such as financial services and consulting, especially during the first few years of your career. In these fields, if you show no evidence of these skills, you won’t get to the interview.

Have you:

• Sifted through data and assumptions and identified reasonable responses to complex problems?

• Synthesized large amounts of information and identified trends or issues?

• Identified a problem and taken a proactive approach to solving it?

• Done well in courses with heavy analytical and quantitative content?

• Performed experiments that required formulation of a hypothesis and collection of evidence to prove or disprove it?

• Taken courses in mathematics, statistics, or other subjects that require analytical thinking?

If so, you may have the analytical ability employers seek.

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aBIlItY to Produce results

An increasing number of employers—even

nonprofit organizations—want evidence that a candidate can produce results. Accordingly, your resume should demonstrate successful outcomes and suggest that you have the ambition, motivation, attention to detail, and energy necessary to achieve an employer’s goals.

Have you:

• Brought new customers or revenue into your company?

• Developed new programs or initiatives?

• Proven that you’re a self-starter who goes above and beyond requirements?

• Shown the ability to prioritize and move quickly among different tasks?

• Set a challenging goal and achieved it?

• Attended to the details while juggling multiple tasks?

• Taken an innovative or efficient approach to getting something done?

The need for specific, quantitative measurements of your accomplishments should start you thinking about how to track and measure your achievements, if you haven’t done that already.

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Intellectual

achIevement

Can you demonstrate superior knowledge of a particular subject? Have you achieved exceptional results in your academic pursuits? Employers are often interested in people who can excel beyond the norm, or who demonstrate drive and ambition in their endeavors.

Have you:

• Earned honors or academic awards?

• Received academic scholarships or fellowships?

• Taken on challenging courses or a heavy workload?

• Engaged in intellectual pursuits (chess, computer programming, etc.)?

• Attended academically rigorous schools?

• Done well on standardized tests (SAT, GMAT, LSAT, and so on)?

• Earned a high GPA?

• Received awards and recognition in the workplace?

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leadershIP

Leadership can be expressed both through your managerial experience and through your willingness to take on responsibility, even if your role is not that of a supervisor or team captain. Many employers look for leadership qualities in their staff.

Have you:

• Directed people’s activities?

• Facilitated meetings?

• Led teams in solving problems?

• Coordinated outside vendors?

• Held a leadership position in a school organization, team, or club?

• Been elected to a post by your peers?

• Organized or coordinated noteworthy events?

• Had a position of significant responsibility with a previous employer?

• Hired or fired anyone?

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teamWork

The ability to work with clients or colleagues is a critical component of most work environments. Employers also value employees who can inspire others toward a common goal. Teamwork requires an ability to communicate clearly and to collaborate with managers, peers, assistants, clients, vendors, and anyone else with whom you have contact through your work.

Have you:

• Been a member of a sports team, study group, or committee?

• Worked effectively with people whose work style or cultural background differs from yours?

• Inspired others to take action in an unstructured situation?

• Taken on the role of a team leader or player as needed?

Of course you have. We don’t know of any candidate, particularly one with a high level of academic training, who hasn’t been involved in working with a team. (Gotta love those study groups!) Identify the teams or groups you’ve joined and think about the roles you played. Employers may want to hear about your ability to make productive contributions, the type of role you tend to play on a team, or how you’ve worked with a team to identify and solve a problem.

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IndustrY and JoB exPertIse

If you have a strong understanding of an industry through experience or academic training, you’ll want to highlight this on your resume and cover letter. Of course, the skills that are considered most important vary by industry. Here are some useful ways to think about your knowledge and past expertise.

Have you:

• Worked in a particular industry for a good chunk of time?

• Held various roles within one industry?

• Held similar functional roles in different industries? Been able to apply your functional knowledge from one industry to another?

• Written a thesis or research paper about a particular industry, business issue, or other topic?

• Volunteered in a particular field, or followed current events related to an industry or issue?

• Participated in conventions, conferences, symposiums, or associations in a specific field?

• Developed specialized skills—such as technical, industry-based, administrative, or in-depth knowledge—from your academic training?

Unlike Uncle Fred, with his misguided approach to sharing past exploits, you can write carefully focused descriptions of your most interesting and valuable experiences to share with recruiters and hiring managers. The goal of assessing your skills is to identify what you can offer an employer, and to demonstrate how hiring you will help a company meet its objectives.

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The Recipe for Resume Success 4 Building a Resume Master List The Essential Resume Ingredients
The Recipe for Resume Success 4 Building a Resume Master List The Essential Resume Ingredients

The Recipe for Resume Success

4

Building a Resume

Master List

The Essential

Resume Ingredients

Optional Resume Ingredients

The Resume Menu at a Glance

Don’t Ruin the Recipe—

Buzzword Bozos and

Other Offenders

Ingredients The Resume Menu at a Glance Don’t Ruin the Recipe— Buzzword Bozos and Other Offenders

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Killer Cover Letters and Resumes

BuIldInG a resume master lIst

Every good cook knows that a single recipe can’t

please everybody. The same can be said for developing

a resume and cover letter for a successful job search.

One standard resume will simply not work. Get comfortable with the idea that you’ll need to customize your resume for each position you want to apply for.

At the very least, you’ll want to create several versions

of your resume—one for each industry or type of

position you’re targeting. The best way to address this need is to create

a master resume, a document that includes all of

the resume elements you might use, as well as a full selection of refined achievement statements,

coursework, volunteer activities, hobbies, or anything else you might use for a particular job application.

A master list helps you keep all of your resume

ingredients in one place. Then, when you’re ready to apply for a job, you can simply select the elements and achievements from your master list that you think will be most impressive to the employer. As you’re reading through the following descriptions of common resume ingredients, begin jotting down notes for each section to see where you have the most material. From there, pare down your material to create your master list.

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the essentIal resume InGredIents

Your resume will always have at least three parts or sections:

• Contact Information

• Experience

• Education

>

tIP

> tIP Heads up! Use the same heading on your cover letter that you create for

Heads up! Use the same heading on your cover letter that you create for your resume. This looks professional and provides a visual cue that the documents belong together. And don’t forget the graphic punch of “branding” your name!

Your contact information always comes first, but you’ll have to choose whether to cover experience before education, or vice versa. Generally, lead with your strength. Students with little work experience will want to place their education section near the top of their resumes. As your school days grow distant, employers become much more interested in your professional experience than in the fact that you were editor of your school newspaper, or what your major was. Experienced professionals (those a few years or more out of school) should always emphasize their work history and save education for last. Career changers, however, may want to place their education section near the top of their resumes if they have little or no experience in the field they wish to enter but do have education or training in that field. Let’s explore the three essential sections that are the heart of your resume.

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cONTacT INFOrmaTION

Every resume starts with a heading that displays the two most important pieces of information to supply to a potential employer: your name and contact information. Seems straightforward, but many people make the mistake of sending resumes with old contact information or of omitting telephone numbers and email addresses. Be sure to include the name you use professionally, a home address, and the personal telephone number or numbers where you are most easily reached. Note: If you have a two-page resume, your name, phone number, and email address should also appear at the top of the second page. Get a job search email account if you don’t already have one; using a unique email address for your job search will help you to avoid losing messages from employers among the many personal messages you receive each day. Select an email address that displays your name. For example:

mary_johnson@hotmail.com. (See the Internet delivery chapter of this guide for additional dos and don’ts on formulating an email address.) You want your name to stand out and stick in the reader’s mind, which is why the heading should be highlighted using a bold or an enlarged typeface. Remember, a resume is a marketing piece about you, and subtle visual tricks like this can be very effective. Don’t go crazy, however, by using ridiculously huge letters. Stick with a font size between 12 and 18 points for the most effective visual punch. Finally, center your contact information on the page or align it along the left margin. This will make it easier to see if it’s filed in a folder or binder.

>

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> tIP Odd numbers are more believable and persuasive than even numbers. “19%” sounds like a

Odd numbers are more believable and persuasive than even numbers. “19%” sounds like a number taken from a financial report, while “20%” sounds like a wild guess. Be exact!

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ExPErIENcE

The most important part of any resume, and the section many recruiters study most closely, is a job seeker’s experience. If you’re an experienced candidate, this section will highlight the past jobs you’ve held. Entry-level candidates can fill out this section with a combination of work experience, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work. To get started on your experience section, create a master list of your work history in reverse chronological order. List the month and year that you began and ended each job, your job title, the name of the company, and the responsibilities you held. Think about your experience in terms of results produced. Be short on the description of duties and long on verifiable outcomes. Quantify your results with numbers wherever possible to give the resume reader a clearer picture of your accomplishments. Always remember that your aim is to show in your resume not just the types of experience you’ve had, but also how effectively you performed your duties, what benefits you brought to your employer while working there, and how valuable you’ll be to your next employer. Finally, fill out your experience list by citing any particular accomplishments, including awards or special recognition, you received at each job. Effective resumes are “action-packed” documents! So after you’ve roughed out your experiences on your master list, you’re going to write them as achievement statements—phrases that emphasize actions and results.

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The following table is a useful tool for getting started with this crucial step. At the top of each column, you’ll see a major area of competency that employers look for in jobseekers. Below each category is a list of “action words” that indicate you prove your competency. Study the table and circle the action words that relate to your work, academic, or personal experience. Use the extra spaces provided to write additional action words that apply to your record of experience.

communication

Teamwork

management

authored

assisted

administered

composed

backed

approved

consulted

brokered

conducted

conveyed

collaborated

decided

corresponded

contributed

delegated

drafted

cooperated

directed

edited

coordinated

executed

explained

created synergies

guided

finessed

helped

handled

interpreted

participated

hired

justified

partnered with

managed

mediated

reinvigorated

oversaw

negotiated

shared

project-managed

reported

solidified

ran

revised

strategized

regulated

simplified

supported

supervised

translated

united

trained

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leadership

Initiative

adaptability

coached

achieved

adapted

conducted

conceived

adopted

enabled

created

anticipated

facilitated

cultivated

changed

founded

designed

complied

governed

determined

engineered

guided

developed

improved

headed

devised

integrated

instructed

established

invented

led

expanded

learned

motivated

garnered

mastered

piloted

generated

modified

prescribed

implemented

negotiated

recommended

initiated

problem-solved

taught

instituted

resolved

unified

launched

retrenched

united

originated

trained

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analytical

Organizational

results/achievements

analyzed

administered

built

appraised

arranged

completed

assessed

compiled

doubled/tripled

broke down

coordinated

enhanced

calculated

distributed

grew

categorized

gathered

made

evaluated

operated

maximized/minimized

examined

ordered

outpaced

experimented

organized/reorganized

produced

innovated

maintained

rebuilt

inspected

managed

reduced

investigated

prepared

re-energized

quantified

prioritized

sold

researched

processed

solved

reviewed

scheduled

started up

surveyed

sequenced

transformed

systemized

synthesized

turned around

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To write an achievement statement, associate each of the action words you circled with specific

NOW IT’s yOur TurN TO Try

skills, abilities, and experiences. Each achievement

• what action was taken,

Write Your Own Achievement Statements

statement describes:

Use this workbook to practice writing your own achievement statements.

• in what setting,

Action:

• with what skills,

• and with what results.

 

Setting:

The following example demonstrates how to write an achievement statement that really achieves!

Step 1: Analyze Your Experience

Action: campaigned for environmental organization

Skills:

Setting: worked with the public

Skills: defined goals, designed campaign, implemented campaign, conducted outreach, educated public

Results:

Results: improved public awareness of issues, increased visibility of organization, generated 500 new members ($5,000 revenue), acquired $20,000 in donations

Situation (job, academic, personal):

Step 2: Write a Results-Oriented Achievement Statement

Environmental Advocate, Sierra Club: Designed and implemented a campaign strategy to educate the public about climate change and shape international treaties on the issue. Generated more than $25,000 in new memberships and donations to support the campaign.

Statement:

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EDucaTION

This section might be more aptly titled “Education and Academic Achievement.” Information here should include schools attended, degrees conferred and when, and other information regarding your academic achievement, including GPA, SAT/GRE/GMAT scores, scholarships and awards earned, honor society memberships, class ranking, etc. List only those things that showcase your strengths. A 3.0 GPA isn’t likely to impress anyone, nor is a 600 on the GMAT. These are perfectly respectable statistics, but if they aren’t going to wow the reader, you might as well save the space for more impressive details. What not to list? There’s no need to list high schools attended; accomplishments in high school generally apply to enrolling in a college, rather than getting a job. Listing when you received your degree(s) is optional. Doing so may reveal your age and how current your knowledge is, which may or may not be desirable. You can also include in this section special certifications, licenses, or additional vocational training you’ve completed. Many job seekers make the mistake of omitting appropriate professional development training: non-credit courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and on-the-job training. Employers value this education since it often directly relates to the job and is usually more recent. Of course, list only those things that showcase your strengths and are relevant to the job that you’re seeking. To get maximum mileage out of your education, describe honors, awards, and special projects. Use the heading “coursework,” and you can describe the contents of the curriculum without worrying about the actual name of each class. Here’s an example:

By fleshing out work you’ve done in school that is relevant to the job you’re applying for, you can skirt the issue of little work experience or a lack of experience in a particular job or industry while still presenting yourself as a skilled candidate.

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yourself as a skilled candidate. 28 WETFEET INSIDER GUIDE π ExamPlE bs, sociology , minor in

π ExamPlE

bs, sociology, minor in business, 2001 Michigan State University

Coursework included:

• Financial & Management Accounting

• Corporate Finance

• Statistics & Statistical Analysis

• Principles of Sales Management

• Marketing Strategy & Planning

• Market Research

Computer skills:

• HTML, MS Office, ACT!, WordPerfect

Sample research project:

• Discriminant Analysis and Psychographic

Profile of Consumer Market for Premixed Ethnic Foods

Sample research project: • Discriminant Analysis and Psychographic Profile of Consumer Market for Premixed Ethnic Foods
research project: • Discriminant Analysis and Psychographic Profile of Consumer Market for Premixed Ethnic Foods

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oPtIonal

resume

InGredIents

You may want to add additional sections to your resume if doing so helps a reader to understand how your qualifications fit the position you’re targeting. Directly after the heading, you can add an objective statement, a summary of qualifications, or a profile. And you can close your resume with a section of additional information that lists particular skills or credentials, or that reveals your interests and activities. Let’s look at each of these optional resume ingredients and consider when it’s worthwhile to include them.

ObjEcTIvE sTaTEmENT

An objective statement conveys your immediate career goals and reason for contacting an employer. Professionals with many years of experience in a particular career who are applying for a job similar to one they’ve held should skip the objective statement. In such a case, allow your experience to speak for itself by including one or two extra achievement statements. Those applying to firms in fields which have formal hiring channels, such as financial services or consulting, should also leave out the objective statement. Submitting your resume is enough to state your objective in these situations. For applicants in other fields, an objective statement might be effective in the following situations:

• You’re applying to a very large company with many similar positions.

• You’re an entry-level candidate with little job experience.

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• You’re a career changer applying for a job in a field in which you have little or no prior experience.

• You’re applying for a job that is a clear advancement from those you previously held.

• Your work history consists of a variety of types of experience.

And if you are leading your resume with your educational accomplishments, you may want to include an objective to prepare the recruiter to evaluate your achievements in terms of your career goals. Your objective statement should be specific and straightforward, and limited to one or two concise sentences. Don’t bother with a general one-size- fits-all objective statement, such as “I am seeking a challenging position that utilizes and expands my professional skills.” That tells the recruiter nothing and is simply a waste of space. Instead, use the objective to customize your resume directly to the job or company that you are targeting. The objective can be as simple as, “Seeking an associate copywriter position in the advertising industry.” Career changers or those trying to emphasize their transferable skills might say something like, “Looking to put extensive customer service and relationship- building skills to work as a public relations account manager.” A well-crafted objective can function as a thesis statement, setting the direction in which the resume will follow.

For detailed information on investment banking or consulting resumes, see the WetFeet Insider Guides Killer Investment Banking Resumes! and Killer Consulting Resumes!, both available from www.wetfeet.com

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Writing an Objective Statement

Part I Write down the kinds of positions, types of organizations or settings, and specific skills you want to use or develop in your next job.

Position Desired:

Setting:

Skills or Goals:

Part II Now practice putting the information generated in Part I of this exercise into objective statements you can use in your resume or cover letter. Below are some suggested phrases to get you started.

Seeking a challenging that offers an opportunity to

To u s e

in a position as a

,

position in the

, and

A career position that will build on experiences as

while contributing to

Seeking an entry-level opportunity in

To provide to an organization that

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field

skills

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summary OF sKIlls Or QualIFIcaTIONs

Including an attention-grabbing, bulleted list of skills or qualifications near the top of your resume can draw the recruiter into the details of your experience. This section can also be titled “Relevant Skills,” “Professional Summary,” “Highlight of Qualifications,” “Core Expertise,” or the like. Since most recruiters only spend a few seconds scanning a resume before deciding to pass or look more closely, a brief list of your strongest points that are most relevant to the job for which you’re applying may be the difference between landing in the “yes” or the “no” pile. An effective summary of skills section might list the following:

• Job-specific knowledge, training, or certifications

• Technical skills or expertise applicable to a particular field

• An accomplishment that shows you can do the job

• A personal quality or characteristic that’s useful in a particular job setting

What’s more, this section is a useful way to introduce keywords into your resume. Keywords are terms that are closely associated with a particular job, career, or industry, and they tend to be the ones that hiring managers look for. You can often spot relevant keywords by looking in job postings where they repeatedly appear as core competencies or desired skills. A summary of skills or qualifications can benefit candidates who have extensive professional experience and also those whose experience doesn’t exactly match the job description. For the experienced candidate, this section helps the reader zero in on what’s most important, and for the entry-level job seeker or the career changer it can be used to highlight transferable skills. As with the objective statement, financial services and consulting candidates should leave this section out.

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tIP

> tIP If you’re building a career in financial services or consulting, omit the objective statement

If you’re building a career in financial services or consulting, omit the objective statement or skills summary in your resume.

If you include a summary of skills or qualifications, keep it brief. Think of this section as a series of quick “sound bytes” that will help your reader spot your most relevant qualifications.

PrOFIlE

If you’re a highly experienced professional, adding

a profile is an excellent strategy for targeting your

resume. The profile provides a snapshot of experience

or skills in a particular area, or it characterizes the general scope of your career and your career trajectory. The profile is used in place of, and not in addition to, an objective statement. Starting your resume with a profile is particularly useful in the following situations:

• You have used similar transferable skills in a variety of industries or job functions.

• You have more years of work experience in your profession than you can reasonably fit on your resume.

• You have two or more core areas of expertise that you wish to use together in your next job.

• You have gaps in your work history, or your core experience is not sequential.

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When developing your profile, you may want to include the following:

• Number of years’ experience in the field or line of work

• Relevant credentials or training

• Accomplishments that directly relate to the targeted job

Think of your profile as a mini-advertisement. It’s

a direct, high-impact statement formulated to elicit

a “Wow!” response. Of course, you need to select

the most relevant details and outcomes that apply to the work you are pursuing. Limit your profile to no more than three sentences. Here are some examples of effective profiles:

“Results-driven marketing professional skilled in establishing brands, creating marketing and public relations strategies, and designing effective marketing collateral. Six years of experience supporting aggressive revenue growth and client acquisition.”

“Fifteen years’ experience in architectural engineering and construction project management. Contributed to high-end projects such as the construction of the new De Young Museum, multi- story residential lofts featuring modern luxury amenities, and refurbishment of the central dome of San Francisco’s city hall.”

“Bringing a master’s degree in cognitive development and extensive studio training in fine arts to the health care field through clinical art therapy. Effective hands-on paid and intern experience assisting in cognitive, emotional, and motor skills rehabilitation. Certified Art Therapist and board member of American Art Therapy Association.”

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>

tIP

> tIP Don’t worry if your cover letter reiterates some of the information in your resume

Don’t worry if your cover letter reiterates some of the information in your resume profile. In fact, consider using the cover letter to expand on one or two points from these highlights.

aDDITIONal INFOrmaTION (acTIvITIEs, aDDITIONal sKIlls, INTErEsTs)

This the spot to tell the recruiter a bit more about yourself and add color to your candidacy. Details typically include activities, interests, associations, memberships, and skills not already covered, such as fluency in foreign languages. Relevance is the key here; mention only those activities that help to qualify you for the job. For example, stating that you chaired a local charitable committee would be relevant to a position requiring teamwork and leadership skills. And don’t go overboard! Three or four activities are enough. An employer may become concerned about your commitment to the job if you belong to a lot of clubs or teams and have a large number of hobbies. Insiders tell us that interesting or unusual information in this section can play a significant role in the decision to award an interview. However, be exceptionally careful about the kind of information you offer. Many people we interviewed say they rejected otherwise decent resumes because of strange mentions in the Additional Information section. For example, saying you won the Twinkie-eating contest at your fraternity by eating 47 Twinkies in 15 minutes isn’t necessarily a selling point if you’re trying to break into the financial services industry—or most industries for that matter. Here are some special points to consider about the Additional Activities section:

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Information hinting at gender, race, or sexual orientation.

Some organizations want to recruit a varied workforce to serve a culturally diverse clientele. Mentioning

activities that hint at gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation may afford you a slight advantage if your activities indicate that you belong to a group

a particular employer is trying to recruit. This is a

high-risk strategy, however, and you should carefully research of the company you are targeting—and speak to company insiders—before you add information of this kind.

Work eligibility.

The Additional Information section is the place to state your work eligibility if you have a work visa or residency status. Many candidates with foreign- sounding names prefer to state their citizenship to avoid potential concerns about their work eligibility.

Religion and politics.

If you choose to list religious or political activities,

it’s a good idea to omit the religious denomination or party designation. For example, cite your accomplishments working on a senatorial campaign without mentioning the candidate’s name. (Remember, the recruiter or employer may have voted for your candidate’s opponent!)

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the resume menu at a Glance

The following menu spotlights all of the conventional and optional elements that can make up a resume. Think of them as pieces of a puzzle; you must decide which elements enhance your marketability and the best way to arrange them to demonstrate your value to the company or organization. Warning! No resume would ever include all of the elements in the table. Only your contact information, education, and experience are essential. The need for optional elements depends on your level of experience and on the unique requirements of a particular job, profession, or industry. Be sure to check out the sample resumes in the next chapter to get a sense of how these sections can work together for your benefit.

>

tIP

> tIP Fluency in a foreign language means the ability to conduct business in that language.

Fluency in a foreign language means the ability to conduct business in that language. If you can’t do that, then don’t mention it.

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common resume Ingredients

section

What It Is

remarks

Heading

Contact Information

Name, mailing address, telephone number(s), email address, website.

Employer can see your current location and easily contact you.

Optional Opening Elements

Objective

One-sentence summary of your immedi- ate work goals. Directly follows the contact information.

Can add focus to a resume with varied or little experience.

Summary of Skills

Lists most relevant skills or keywords relevant

Helps reader quickly identify your relevant skills.

to the targeted position.

Summary of Qualifications

List of top three or four points about your achievements or experience.

Pre-sells the reader about your value to the company.

Profile

A “mini-ad” that reveals your expertise and best attributes in a few sentences.

Enables the experienced candidate to portray core areas of expertise and outline career trajectory.

Education

Education

Degree, major, institution, location, date degree

An essential element. Lead with this section if a recent graduate or have little experience.

conferred. GPA is optional.

Be sure to consider

Honors and Awards

Academic awards, scholarships, recognition for

Demonstrates leadership or intellectual achievement.

achievements in fields relevant to the job.

Certifications, Licensure,

Important to list if a required qualification for certain positions, such as therapists, lifeguards,

Must be current, especially if licensure is a required qualification for position.

Credentials

and engineers.

Training

Relevant training, continuing education, confer- ence participation.

Shows professional development.

WETFEET INSIDER GUIDETraining Relevant training, continuing education, confer- ence participation. Shows professional development.

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Experience

Employment History

All relevant employment listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Must include date, title, employer, and location.

An essential element. Entries should stress achievements or results.

Be sure to consider

Volunteer or community service organizations

Include date, title or role, organization, and location.

Helpful for those who have little employment history; describe job-related achievements and results, leadership roles.

Internships

Experiential training you’ve had as relevant to skills and qualifications. Can include paid or unpaid positions.

Most useful for new grads or career changers, or if internship is part of academic curriculum.

additional Optional Information

Be sure to consider

Technical Skills

Computer programs and lab skills, for example.

Some employers want to see computer compe- tence, even for non-technical positions.

Research

Includes title, organization, location, project emphasis and outcome, and skills used.

Demonstrates specialized knowledge, as well as technical and analytical skills.

Professional Activities

Publications, presentations, and association memberships.

Shows leadership and advanced knowledge.

Language Skills

Foreign languages in which you are fluent enough to conduct business.

List only if relevant to the job.

Also consider…

Activities/ Community Involve- ment

List dates, titles if any, organization, location.

Can reveal leadership, teamwork skills, drive for results; most useful if skills are relevant to job.

Travel

Lists major experiences abroad, dates, and whether travel was through affiliated organiza- tions or independent.

Good for international positions, or to explain time gaps in work history.

Interests

List those in which you are accomplished or that might interest the employer.

Gives fuller picture of candidate; controversial interests not advisable; takes space away from work-related accomplishments.

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don’t ruIn the recIPe

buzzWOrD bOzOs aND OTHEr OFFENDErs

We’ve advised you at length about what recruiters do like to see on your resume. Now let’s take a moment to highlight some stuff they don’t like to see. Here’s a line up of bad “resume chefs” and a discussion of their primary offensives. If your resume exhibits any of the following negative traits, it runs a high risk of being tossed in the “no” pile, no matter how strong your qualifications are.

The Buzzword Bozo

Buzzword bozos use words in the wrong context or words that aren’t meaningful in an attempt to sound savvy. If you claim to have been “responsible for re-engineering the audit approval process,” you risk appearing more naive than you are. After all, “re-engineering” is just another word for “changing,” and “audit approval process” is redundant. Why not lose “approval” and claim to have “changed the audit process?”

The Experience Inflator

The biggest mistake insiders note is the tendency to overstate experience. Yeah, we know everyone exaggerates their experience to some extent, but insiders tell us that if a resume looks too good to be true, it probably is. Therefore, most of them look at a glowing resume with a heavy dose of skepticism. Yes, do sell yourself and showcase your talents, but do it without going overboard.

The Title -Titillator

Title titillators think a fancy title will make their experience sound better. Consider the very impressive- sounding title “Director of Strategic Operations.” What on earth does that mean? When in doubt,

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simplify so as to make your role and responsibilities clearer, rather than more obscure. Also, be very sure that the title you choose is the one that your former employer or reference will confirm that you had while at their organization.

The Liar

Frighteningly enough, many insiders we talked to said they had caught individuals lying about everything from what degrees they had earned to where they had earned them to where they had worked. One remembered a candidate from a top finance school who lied about being on the board of a prominent charity. It so happened that the insider’s spouse was on that board, which made for a very interesting dinner table conversation that evening, and an awkward phone call to the candidate the next day. Needless to say, he was not invited for an interview. Also keep in mind that you can be fired at any point during your employment with a company if they discover that you falsified your job search documents.

The Jack of All Trades

Resumes lacking focus are big losers. They include mentions of membership in seven different clubs without a leadership position in any of them; experience in five industries in the past four years; and in-depth knowledge of marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, and information systems. Yeah, right. Avoid looking like a dilettante. Groom your resume so it highlights skills and experiences specifically related to a career in investment banking.

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Writing and Formatting Your Resume 5 How Long Is Too Long? 40 Polishing Your Prose
Writing and Formatting Your Resume 5 How Long Is Too Long? 40 Polishing Your Prose

Writing and Formatting Your Resume

5

How Long Is Too Long?

40

Polishing Your Prose

40

Top-Level Formatting Guidelines

43

Resume Layout

50

Special Cases

58

Sample Resumes

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Summary of Resume Dos and Don’ts

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43 Resume Layout 50 Special Cases 58 Sample Resumes 66 Summary of Resume Dos and Don’ts
43 Resume Layout 50 Special Cases 58 Sample Resumes 66 Summary of Resume Dos and Don’ts

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hoW lonG Is too lonG?

Grab your resume master list! It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and create your actual resume. This chapter will show you how to polish your prose and how to format your resume in a way that enables others see you as the skilled and competent professional you really are. So how long should your resume be? After all, your resume master list is probably chock-full of great information that runs for several pages. Frankly, there isn’t a consistent rule about how short or long a resume should be; the optimal length depends on your level of experience and the expectations of the profession or industry that you’re targeting. Although some guidebooks assert that a resume should never be longer than one page, experienced professionals may need more space than that to explain their background. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Entry-level candidates and those with five or fewer years of experience should limit their resumes to one page. Experienced professionals should write no more than two pages. Only curricula vitae (see the Special Cases discussion later in this guide) or resumes for upper- level executives with extensive track records should exceed two pages.

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PolIshInG Your Prose

Let’s face it: You’ll never fit everything you’d like to say onto a one- or two-page resume. That means you need to choose powerful, effective words that deliver your message quickly and concisely. Keep the phrase “At a Glance” in mind as you write. Your goal is to distill everything you need to say into a few carefully chosen words and bullet-pointed sentences that are easy to scan. Let’s look at how to use language to help you accomplish this goal.

KEEP IT brIEF

Less is more when it comes to writing your resume statements. Big blocks of text composed of meandering sentences make it hard to pick out essential information. Remember, if you can’t scan your resume in 30 seconds, neither can a recruiter or hiring manager. So write sentences that are short and simple, and that develop a single carefully targeted point.

For the purposes of a resume, this sentence is trying to say too much:

• Gained new accounts by developing and maintaining relationships with key decision makers in various markets generating $1.7 million revenue in the form of online subscriptions.

It works much better when broken out into two shorter points:

• Increased client base by 20% in the community college, university, and vocational school markets.

• Generated $1.7 million in revenue through development of new accounts.

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KEEP IT sImPlE

Don’t try to impress recruiters with trendy business jargon. Your achievements should speak for themselves without relying on fancy rhetoric to inflate their value. Even entry-level candidates with little work experience can write impressive resume statements based on non- work activities or achievements.

This sentence needs an antacid:

• Strategized and enacted superior implementation systems and procedures to leverage increased results of positive residential client base feedback, instituting a resulting increase of 100%.

The straightforward approach is much more impressive:

• Developed streamlined in-home installation process, reducing customer complaints by half.

bE sPEcIFIc

Never use general terms to describe your experience or achievements. After all, you’re trying to stand out from all the other candidates, not blend in with them. Use concrete and specific language, and use numbers and hard facts wherever possible. Instead of, “managed many important client accounts,” write, “managed 30 accounts averaging more than $200,000 each.”

This statement is fairly vague:

• Logged daily customer inquiries and forwarded them to appropriate personnel.

Watch how adding a little detail can turn a basic responsibility into an achievement:

• Maintained company’s customer-focused reputation by processing 30–40 detailed inquiries daily, prioritizing and managing inquiry routing.

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usE THE acTIvE vOIcE

To craft a powerful resume, write it using active voice. Active voice makes you the actor of your statements instead of a passive bystander. Moreover, using active voice prevents excessive wordiness and helps to keep your statements brief, clear, and simple.

This statement casts the applicant in a passive light as if the promotion just happened along:

• Selected as interim supervisor for 10–12 employees. (that is, Somebody else did the selecting.)

Rewriting in active voice gives the candidate much more credit for the activity:

• Managed 10–12 employees as summer interim supervisor. (that is, The candidate did the managing.)

WrITE IN THE FIrsT PErsON

Your resume is a direct message from you to a potential employer. Therefore, you need to write your achievement statements from the first-person point- of-view. To save space and prevent wordiness, however, it’s okay to remove the “I” from your statements.

This statement of qualifications is still clear, even without the “I”:

• Marketing professional with 7 years’ experience; specialize in research and strategy development for privately funded organizations; earned community service award through accomplishments in nonprofit fundraising.

rEmOvE uNNEcEssary WOrDs

To further tighten your resume writing, remove articles (a, an, the), helping verbs (have, had, may, might), forms of “to be” (am, is, are, was, were), and pronouns (its, their) from your resume statements. These extra words will be assumed by the reader.

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Unnecessary words make this statement too long:

• Have assisted the faculty of the engineering department with its research for publications in academic journals.

This revision is much tighter:

• Assisted engineering department with research published in various academic journals.

KEEP TracK OF TENsE

Make sure to describe your past duties and achievements in the past tense, and your present duties and achievements in the present tense. For example, if you’re listing activities at your current job, describe them in the present tense. However, when describing accomplishments that you’ve completed in your current job, you may use past tense. Inconsistent use of tense is confusing and just plain sloppy. Some job seekers hold two jobs simultaneously or hold an occasional long-term side job along with their full-time job. If you still hold the job, list that in the present tense as well. This example keeps track of proper verb tense from a past to a present job:

track of proper verb tense from a past to a present job: 42 WETFEET INSIDER GUIDE
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Nov. 2003–present

Account Manager, Millburg Group

• Manage sales incentive program comprising 200 retailers with 300+ employee partici- pants.

• Oversee marketing strategy for agency’s biggest client (Krandle Motors); helped client achieve two consecutive years of record- breaking new product sales.

• Develop program-marketing materials; achieved 20% new client acquisition by second quarter of 2005.

Aug. 2000–Feb. 2003

Marketing Manager, Special Programs, LockSpeed Marketing Group

• Managed creation, production, and imple- mentation of new client incentive program; new clients included 12 Fortune 500 corpora- tions.

• Helped sales force achieve 35% higher sales volume through highly effective support tools, methodologies, and proposals.

• Implemented corporate PR strategies, in- creasing publicity by 20% and securing mul- tiple industry awards, including Best Creative Agency in Southern California.

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cHEK yOu’rE sPElINg

Our insiders said one typo wouldn’t disqualify a candidate, but several typos probably would. On the other hand, any typo is a good enough reason to nix a candidate and, depending on the reader’s mood and level of patience, a typo might be just the excuse needed to whittle down that pile. Use your spell checker, but also be sure to proofread carefully—spell checkers won’t catch homonyms (there vs their) or misused contractions (your vs you’re). And the spell checker can’t catch mistakes in the names of companies. Have a friend or two proofread your resume before you send it out.

toP-level

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</