Resume 101: Show your skills

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Published: November 2,2009

Whether you use an Internet service in your job search or you stick to the tried-and-true scanning of the classified ads, you still need a résumé that shows off your skills and makes a good impression.

While technology has made it easier to get your name and qualifications in front of employers, you still have to make sure it’s read — and that’s where presentation comes in. 

Using flashy graphics or gimmicks on your résumé won’t necessarily get you an interview for a job. It’s more important that your résumé gives information about your qualifications for the job.

On the other hand, a sloppy presentation of that information can disqualify you from consideration even if your credentials are exactly what the company is looking for. Typos, grammar mistakes and poor arrangement of information can make it look like you don’t pay attention to detail.

 

Can they really see you in the job?

Rather than simply listing your jobs and job duties, make sure the information you provides makes it easy for the interviewer to see you in the job you want. Use active words to describe what you accomplished in your prior jobs or your volunteer activities — you want the employer to see how you worked, rather than what you did.

For that matter, make sure you don’t overstate your education or qualifications — a U.S. News and World Report survey of 1,000 people in 1999 showed that 83 percent of those surveyed agreed that putting extra work experience on a résumé was wrong, while 75 percent of those polled also agreed that putting extra educational experience on a résumé was a form of cheating.

 

Keeping it professional

The professional approach continues to the information you include. Leave off information about your hobbies, church affiliation and social clubs you may attend.

That doesn’t mean you can’t include extracurricular activities at all on your résumé — just make sure your employer can see how they relate to what kind of employee you might be, rather than just see them as a measure of how popular you are.

Faxing a résumé is a common way to get information to a company recruiter quickly. But this approach has its pitfalls. Make sure to use black ink, white paper and an easy-reading font for a résumé you plan to fax.

Mass e-mailing of your résumé to all the companies you can find in the industry you want to work in isn’t going to get you very far, either. A basic tenet of e-mail hygiene is to not open messages or attachments from e-mailers you don’t know. 

One possible approach: e-mailing your résumé to people you have met at job fairs, career days organized by your school or community meetings where you have discussed job prospects with the people you saw there. Remind them of who you are and where you met them in the subject line as well as the body of the message. 

Remember, your résumé work is a sales brochure designed to get the company to take a long look at what you have to offer them.

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