Resume Pointers and Pitfalls

A resume is usually the first contact an employer has with a job candidate, and it says a great deal about the person who has written it. Survey after survey deal indicates that interviewers place greater emphasis on communications ability than on any other attribute.

A resume is simply that, a communications tool. How well it has been thought out and written reflects a candidate’s skill at written communication.

Start now, it is never too early to start working on one? Employers of young candidates are not expecting a resume to include significant work experience. They are, however, on the lookout for attributes of leadership, intellectual curiosity and hard work during one’s four years and a college or university. A resume can, and should indicate these things.

I counsel people already working in jobs to set up their own “personal personnel file”. Into this file should go written reminders of accomplishments, innovative projects initiated by the employee, commendations from superiors, anything positive that can be used later when preparing a resume to search for a new job, or to make a case for a promotion and/or salary increase. If this kind of methodical documentation isn’t done, many positive indicator gained over a number of years are forgotten when the time comes to use them.

Are you hobbies business related? Were you involved in professional clubs and organizations? Show any examples of leadership, such as having been elected to captain of a team or an officer in school government, or other organizations.

Have some of your college activities sharpened your communications skills? Have you given talks to groups, or written for the school or local newspaper? If so, mention it.

I also recommend not including an “objective” section because it narrows down your opportunities. At this stage, you should be open to many possibilities. To give a prospective employer the idea that you would accept only a narrow niche job will work against you.

UPDATE: An outdated resume that has to be explained during an interview says to some employers that you aren’t particularly interested in your career.

Prepare more than one resume to cover different job opportunities that arise. Attempting to make one resume fit all possibilities dilutes its positive effect. A customized resume makes it easy for the employer to see how well you fit the position being filled. The same goes for your cover letters. Don’t use a standard form. Each job you go after will have something unique about it that should be woven into your resume and cover letter.

Since you are coming directly out of college, your education plays a more important part in prospective employer’s eyes than someone who’s been in the workplace for a while.

Nothing will take you out of the running for a good job more quickly than the suspicion that you might not be telling the total truth. Sure, toot your own horn, but stick to the facts.


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