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Writing Your Resume

When you are applying for a position you absolutely need a resume you are comfortable with and one that will get you to the next step in your job search.

If your current resume is not getting you anywhere in your job search or you do not have a resume you will find this guide invaluable. Read on.

A resume is really a collection of sentence in some shape or form so it's appropriate to begin discussing sentences.

Grammar, punctuation, spelling and proper word usage are all absolute necessities in a well-written resume.

This probably sounds much easier than it actually is as we are now so used to using various forms of communication that do to require us to follow the "rules" such as email and text messaging. In fact we are probably so used to butchering the language we speak that it can be difficult to rise to the occasion when one needs.

A resume is a business document and must be looked on as such.

The following are guidelines to writing sentences in a resume.
  • Do not use the word "I"
    Never use the pronoun "I" in a resume. Who else would you be referring to in your resume but yourself?

    Always use an action verb in places you were thinking of using the word "I".

    E.g. "Developed", "Managed"

  • Keep sentences short
    Although your English teacher may have told you that you need to have complete sentences the rule does not apply when writing your resume. Keep your sentences brief and to the point. Remember a resume should be brief and clear. If you are having trouble doing this try using bullet points to break up the sentence

  • Keep it simple
    Use plain English when writing your resume. Big words or affected statements used inappropriately or when a simple word would suffice impress nobody. Keep it simple. This is not a place to highlight your understanding of big words or phrases.

  • Bullet Points
    Long sentence should be avoided at all costs however the same information can be shared using bullet points by breaking up the sentence in to separate statements. Bullet points can make will make your resume easy to read and look good to boot. Keep bullet items brief and try to ensure the sentence structure and grammar is consistent from bullet to bullet. For example if you use an action verb at the start for the first bullet, continue to use action verbs on the other bullets.

  • Zoning-From general to more specific
    In order to put information in the proper context it is a good idea to use the principles of zoning. Zoning is where you go from the general comment on a specific topic such as work history to a more specific comment on the same subject. Try not to get in to the details immediately at the start of a paragraph. For example, managed a laboratory for inspection of food products. Supervised a technical staff of six who performed microbiological tests as required by customers

Make your resume computer friendly
In today's modern world it is highly likely that your resume will be screened electronically. You will want to ensue the reason you are not getting to the next stage in the job hunt is not because your resume was screened out for all the wrong reasons. Some employers that use electronic screening techniques want specific typeface or color of ink. If you are unfortunate enough not to meet the scanners specific requirements your resume may not even be screened or will be rejected if it is screened by the screener. Basically what happens when a resume is screened is that the scanner is looking for words or phrases associated with the open position. If you do not have these included your resume will not get past the screening stage also.

Computers can never replace a human in interpreting what is actually written and putting it in to the proper context. Electronic scanners are becoming more popular so it is best to find out what the company you are applying to uses to screen resumes. Some companies will have this information on their jobs hotline or company recorded greeting when you call them.

To ensue you include the necessary words or phrases to get past the screening stage it is a good idea to ask a headhunter or agency to for specific information related to the position you are seeking. You can also find this in classifieds in your local papers for positions advertised in your field.

Dealing with sensitive areas in your work history
There are some areas in your work history or background where it may be better not to draw attention to. These could include the fact that although you spent four years in college you did not actually graduate or you may have numerous gaps in your employment history or you have moved jobs several times in the recent past. There may be reasonable explanations for all of these however a resume is not the place to explain them. There are some simple ways to handle these in your resume. Whatever you do, DO NOT LIE.

If you did go to college but did not graduate, simply include the years you attended college and nothing else. You can respond if questioned.

Gaps in employment are common and acceptable however significant frequent gaps do not look good and will not show you in the best light. To get over this you can only include the years rather than providing the actual month and year of each position.

If you are seeking a position that has little relevance to your current or former positions use a functional or a combination resume style to emphasize your accomplishments and skills and take the focus away from your work history.

It is important to note that if you have gaps in your work history or are skirting around a sensitive issue on your resume that it is a good idea to have an explanation included in your cover letter.

Resume- Section by Section
When writing your resume it is important to divide it down in to sections. The different sections in a resume are pretty standard. Here's a look at the more common ones.

The heading should your name, address and phone numbers. Try to center the heading

Ideally you should not include your work phone number unless you cannot be reached easily at other number or you are not concerned about your current employer finding out that you are looking for a new position. If necessary you can always include in the cover letter a note requesting the caller use discretion if contacting you by phone.

You can provide a summary on your resume describing yourself and what you can bring to the table. You will want to include this at the beginning of the resume above or below the objective. The focus of this summary should be your professional background rather than a summary of your skills and capabilities. Write this as succinctly as possible and if need break it down in to bullet points.

Experience or Work History
The work experience section is the most important section on your resume and the one reader's immediately begin to look at. You will want to emphasize your achievements and accomplishments. Be very clear on what these are and use words that emphasize these accomplishments. To do this, use action verbs such as "initiated", "developed" and "Drove". Also you need to be clear on what your overall responsibilities were in each of your former positions and the distinction between these and your duties or tasks.

You can divide this in to two parts, one that describes your overall responsibilities and the second that talks to your actual duties achievements.

You will certainly need to provide details of your education however depending on how long you have been in the working world the size of this section will change. The longer you have been working the less detail you need to go in to regarding your education. Always make sure you give details on the qualification you were awarded. E.G' include BS. MBA, PHD. If you attended college but were never awarded a qualification because you did not complete the course or for other reasons, just list the years you attended the college.

The objective section is generally a succinct statement stating your career objective. It can be more than one line however this must be clear and to the point and you need to include why you choose that specific objective. For some people and objective works and for others it doe not and most of this has to do wit the actual content rather than background. It really is your own personal decision on whether you want to include an objective. Decide on whether you want to include an objective and make up a draft and refine it. You can also customize the statement for different positions you are pursuing.

This section can really cover a number of topics including special memberships, Associations, awards or your proficiency in other languages that might enhance your appeal to an employer. What you include very much depends on the type of position you are seeking These should be job related however if you are unsure of all the details of the position you are seeking it a good idea to include these type of items anyway in this section. A word of advice is needed here, do not include a rambling list of your hobbies unless the hobby is directly related to the job you are interested in.

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