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Important Resume Tips

Don't tell employers about your ancient history.

Your resume shouldn't go back before 1994, though in many cases, this is still too far back in time.  What most employers are concerned about is this:  What have you done lately?   You can create a few summary lines indicating past job experience if absolutely necessary.

For instance: `Previous experience includes accounts payable representative leading to current position as finance manager,” or “started in a service-oriented position and gained experience in building customer partnerships.”

Old school language makes you old.
If you use summary statements such as “Mature professional with 25+years of experience”, then you’re indicating that your old, set in your ways, can’t work with younger people or not in touch with modern technology. Please, don't age yourself.  The prospective employer must believe, after looking at your resume, that you think youthfully and energetically.

Create a strong career summary.

The career summary should include significant
key words. It is becoming more common for HR to use a key word search program to pull words, phrases or ideas from the resume that reflect what HR and management are looking for in a prospective employee.

A strong summary lets the employer know in a nutshell whether or not the employee meets the job requirements.

I can't emphasize enough how important 
key word search affects the success of a resume. The top four to twelve lines of a resume comprises the summary, and the summary contains the primary key words that cause the employer to consider you for an interview.

Use left margin formatting.

Until recently, bullets and column formatting were stylish.  However, with the advent of iPhones, Smartphones, iPads, Tablets, and other devices with their own apps and formatting that differs from that of Microsoft Word, bullets, indents, borders, shading, and other graphic fonts have become "old school".

Formatting changes quickly along with rapid changes in technology.  Bullets and graphics imbedded in the resume do not work well when posting to Indeed, CareerBuilders, Ladders, and other search engines.

If you want to ensure that your resume will be read easily and post accurately, a simple left margin format without bullets and graphics is the most superior method to use for formatting.

Style and font are important.
Your font should be simple to read.  Arial is a popular font because a "g" looks like a "g" and a "q" looks like a 'q".  Calibri is another clean font.  Avoid Gothic font or anything similar.  By the way, you're currently reading Arial font.

No borders or shading.
Don't use borders or shading.  Why?  Try posting your resume to an online position or site where your MS Word resume won't post because you used borders and shading.  Try converting your .doc resume to a .txt format and watch the borders and shading screw up. Put your resume in MS Word. Most online sites will let you post your MS Word (.doc) file.

Occasionally, you must convert your resume to a text file (.,txt).  If so, then open your file in MS Word, go to "File" in your pull-down menu, and hit "save as", scroll down and choose "text only" file.  Your resume won't  look as pretty as a Word file, but if the site won't accept a Word file, then you have no choice.  However, don't worry, your original MS Word file is still there.  All you've done is add a text file as a separate file.

Don't create your resume as a PDF.
The PDF resume will not post to many job sites and positions.  Also, HR personnel cannot place an ID number or code at the top of your resume to direct it to the hiring manager or department because the PDF file is a locked file.

There are some occasions when you should use PDF files, such as specific government resumes or documents that should be kept highly confidential.

Resumes must show achievements.

There are many ways to indicate your skills and level of success.  For instance:  “Successfully increased sales by 12% in a declining economy”, or “conducted trend analysis used by senior management to successfully develop a new sales region,” or “provided training for 23 sales reps that resulted in an increase in product promotions,” or “selected as project lead for a major national campaign.”   You get the idea.

Achievements command attention on a resume.

Bland, cookie cutter language such as “detail minded” or “well-organized individual” will ensure that your resume is read quickly and tossed.   Indicate strengths. You don’t “answer phones,” you “respond to customer inquiries as a solution resource.”  You don’t ‘work for the department manager,’ you “collaborate with the department manager to improve customer communications.”  You don’t “complete paperwork,” you “manage confidential, time-sensitive documents.”  You don’t “work with vendors,’ you “build vendor partnerships resulting in profitable relationships.”

Indicate your technology capabilities.
If you are proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, PC to Mac conversions, router and server maintenance, MEDITECH, ICD-9 and CPT coding - the list can go on and on – then by all means, indicate your level of skill or how you purchased, developed or implemented accounting, financial or inventory management applications.

Don’t tell employers about software that is obsolete:  WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, old telecom equipment, Windows 9x, Lotus 1-2-3 or other antiquated technology.  You’ll age yourself.   If you don’t possess computer skills, go to your local library and sign up for classes.  If you don't, you'll be labeled a dinosaur in the current world of technology.

Don’t list your dates of education if your education is in the distant past.
f you graduated in 1981, and the Assistant HR representative who will see your resume first is 22 years old, he or she will think you’re ancient.  You need to get face-to-face with the prospective employer to be noticed, to demonstrate that you’re “youthful” and “energetic”.

If you didn’t complete a degree, then indicate training, seminars and leadership programs that you have completed such as Effective Negotiations, Sales Leadership or Time Management.

Length is important.

In most cases, with the exception of some government formats such as KSA format, your resume should be concise.  Don't write a book, especially since the prospective employer does not have time to read a book.  Keep your resume to one or two pages.

Wait a minute.  Length is important !!!
Due to changes in many of the job sites posted on engines such as CareerBuilders, Indeed, and others, resumes cannot be accepted unless limited to 6500 characters or less, which is equivalent to a well-spaced two pages.  

Functional resumes not always  effective.
Some semi-functional resumes that place achievements up front are effective.  However, don't use a functional resume to disguise gaps in employment with a list of achievements that are hard to decipher.

Employers will not spend the time to figure out when or where you performed each achievement.   Functional resumes that are vague and confusing just don't work.

Simple is best.
If a key point or bullet on your resume is confusing, long, rambling or redundant, change it.  If you need to reread your own bullet point fifteen times, imagine how many prospective employers won't find the time or energy to read it.

Be consistent.
Listing dates as 3/2012 in one place and March 2012 in another or using different fonts is not what you want.  Don't list "M" for million in one spot, and "MM" for million in another.  Don't use a comma before a final `and' in one spot, and no comma before a final `and' in another.

Your resume is not  an art project.

The color purple should never appear on a professional resume unless you are Barney the Dinosaur.  Please, no pictures, no fancy graphics, no ungodly geometric shapes for bullets.

Your resume is a marketing tool.
It is meant to represent you at your best.  It should be accurate but does not have to include every detail of your life.  The resume is not your memoirs. Make your resume look like a resume.

There are several formats.  However.  your name, address, email and phone must be at the top, a strong summary to follow.  Include your skills and achievements. 

List your education, which includes degrees, certifications, seminars, on-the-job training for special skills and employee development.

List your positions in chronological order.

Get the employer to read your resume.
A strong summary and achievements are critical to engaging the prospective employer.  If you get a WOW !!! out of the hiring manager's mouth, you'll get the interview.

Spellcheck your resume.
If you have others review your resume, make sure they're qualified, e.g., an HR manager with 10 years of experience, not your drunken neighbor next door.  Use lots of typos and you'll lose results.

Should you include references on or with your resume?

… not a good idea.

 Here are a few significant reasons why you should not put your references on or with your resume: 

The people that you trust to promote you, those that you use for references, are allowing you an opportunity to use them to assist you in finding a job.

However, when you post your resume online, and the references are included as part of the resume, cover letter, or in a separate entry on one of the search engines, the people who are your references now have their personal information posted along with your resume and letter.

When you put your references on your resume, and they are carried over to an iPhone, iPad, Smartphone, or other electronic device, the people you have allowed to represent have now become part of someone’s app, and did not intend to be downloaded at will.

The bottom line:  It is becoming more important to protect confidentiality, and the information that you supply as “references” may not be held confidential until you appear face-to-face with an HR representative, at which time you can state candidly that your references should be held in confidence.

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