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General Resume Rules to Be Considered

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Resume Rule 1: In describing previous jobs and educational experiences, focus on accomplishments and transferable skills.

Use a brief prose description of daily duties and responsibilities for each job to introduce a list of accomplishments. Make sure both description and list convey transferable skills. A chronological format demands only that you unfold your experience in a simple, easy to follow pattern of organization; it does not require you to stick to static, formalistic descriptions of jobs or schooling.

If you have done your homework in self exploration, you will have already analyzed your career in terms of accomplishments and transferable skills. To translate this information into resume format, prepare a separate piece of paper or 4" X 6" card for each job you have had and each school you have attended. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes for each job or school to rough out a general description of the experience. Then turn to your accounts of accomplishments and skills. Under the prose description of each experience, list the relevant accomplishments and skills.

Resume Rule 2: Do not try to mold your experience into resume format too quickly.

Even if you already have a reasonably current version of your resume around, don't think in terms of revising it. Instead, think in terms of building a new resume. Like all construction projects, the construction of a resume takes time and should proceed in steps. The result of a well managed project will be a high quality resume that will help you achieve your present career objectives, and in the process of constructing it, you will help yourself prepare intellectually and emotionally for interviews.

When you have completed a separate sheet or card for each major vocational experience, spread them all out in front of you (you may need to get down on your knees and use the floor for this step). Group them in reverse chronological order under two major subdivisions: Work experience and Education. Reread all of your cards or papers to get a sense of how your career sounds in this pattern of organization. Look for repetition and patterns of advancement. You will want to highlight advancements (increasing levels of skill, responsibility, accomplishment, and reward) while eliminating unnecessary repetition.

You need not, for example, describe your involvement in budgeting under each and every job, if your last three jobs have all involved formulating budgets and tracking expenses and revenues. On the other hand, if your last three jobs have involved increasing responsibility for budgets a progression, perhaps from providing information to others who formulate budgets to managing the budgeting process across several departments make sure your descriptions convey this progression.

As you edit your job and school descriptions, keep your current vocational objective securely in mind. If you are seeking jobs in which budgetary responsibilities will be few or nonexistent, you have nothing to gain by emphasizing this aspect of your previous experience. You may wish to use it, however, to demonstrate transferable skills required in budgeting, like ability to work with numbers, explain calculations to others, negotiate for resources, or use a variety of software packages.

Resume Rule 3: Use a computer and laser printer, if at all possible, to create the master copy of your resume.

When and only when you have assembled a complete set of descriptions should you begin thinking about page layout or transferring information onto a page? Now is the point at which to bring on the electronics. A computer is a big asset in constructing resume and creating other business documents useful during vocational transition. Try to get access to one at this point, if you haven't already. A personal computer is a reasonable investment for any manager or professional seeking work. Having resume information on computer makes it much easier to manipulate and revise, both visually and verbally. Also, computer generated and laser printed documents now set the standards against which other documents are compared. Typewritten resumes just do not look very good next to resumes created with sophisticated word processing software and printing hardware.

If you do not want to invest in a personal computer setup, you can lease computer time or hire a resume service or independent word processor who uses personal computers. Having your resume on disk makes sense even if you don't own a computer. You can have your disk printed out wherever you can find the right kind of computer and software attached to a high quality printer. Computer facilities are all over the place, so you will almost always have access to means of generating a fresh original of your resume, which you can photocopy, if necessary.

Check the yellow pages and the advertising sections of local newspapers to locate the computer resources and expertise you decide to buy.

Resume Rule 4a: Don't get carried away by technology.

Just because you can use 20 different fonts almost as easily as one doesn't mean you should. Keep your page visually simple and consistent; use format and layout devices sparingly to achieve emphasis. Do not introduce new design elements for the sake of variety alone.

Resume Rule 5: Get rid of extraneous lines and subheadings.

Many resumes waste space on unnecessary lines like:

"Resume of" (which should be obvious).

"References available on request" (of course they are, but they usually are not requested until the final stages of selection and hiring; you should generally wait for the subject to come up in interviews before offering to supply references).

Full addresses of employers and schools represent another space eater in resumes. City and state is enough. No one should get in touch with former employers or schools before talking to you; few will want to in any case.

Sometimes resumes waste space and look cluttered because of unnecessary subdivision. For example, "Experience in Advertising", "Experience in Marketing" and "Other Experience" need not appear on the same resume. Experience, Education, and Additional Information are, in the majority of cases, the only major subdivisions and subheadings a resume needs. You should describe all your work experiences in terms that show their relevance to your employment objective, so dividing your work background into "Experience in…and "Other Experience" is superfluous.

Likewise, you should not subdivide your experience into "Paid Employment" and "Volunteer Work." This subdivision is not very useful in evaluating your ability to do a job. Volunteering demonstrates community involvement, high energy, and moral fibre  important aspects of character. But dividing your experience into "volunteer work" and "paid employment" only obscures the continuities and coherence in your career path. Stick with a chronological pattern under the single heading of "experience." If you want, you can indicate your pay status within individual entries. If you decide to include voluntary work on your resume, but do not want it in the "Experience" section, describe or list it under "Additional Information."

Resume Rule 6: Include an "Additional Information' section  or equivalent in your resume.

A flexible heading can introduce a rich and unique variety of information to readers of your resume. A section of this sort gives the chronological resume far more latitude as a means of self introduction. You can include in it information that does not fit neatly into job descriptions and identify activities you do not have space to describe in separate entries.

You can mention interests outside of work that you feel demonstrate work related qualities, like jogging, aerobics, an interest in current events or archaeology, reading books, and volunteering for community activities. Or, you can indicate proficiency with software, hardware, or foreign languages that you have not mentioned in your job descriptions.

Use two criteria to decide whether to include a piece of information on your resume?. First, is it relevant to your employment objective? Second, is it something you want to elaborate on in interviews?, If the answer to both is "yes'' including the information on your resume is appropriate.

Resume Rule 7: Look at all the resumes you can get your hands on, particularly from people in your field.

Libraries and bookstores usually carry a variety of manuals and workbooks on resume writing. Most of these contain samples. In addition to general resume books, you can find volumes devoted to resumes in particular fields. Some librarians even collect sample resumes from satisfied patrons. Gather resumes from friends, family members, and business associates. Look at many before you decide on a look that suits you.

Resume Rule 8: Proofread your resume at least 10 times, including each and every proper name and address, especially your own; then have it proofread at least twice by others before having it reproduced or sending it to a potential employer.

Mistakes in resumes always leave a bad impression. Some people will read your resume? and not be able to remember immediately afterward whether you have an M.B.A.; yet, they will recall for years to come the spelling error in your third entry. Don't let nitpickers get your dander up. Beat them to the point and pick that nit out of your resume before they have a chance at it.
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