Sunday, November 15, 2015

HBCUX | Careers - Writing a Standout Resume

As 2016 approaches, it's time to start getting ready for your job search because you are going to need a standout resume to help you find a job. Depending on your work experience, education level, and/or time away from the workforce, your resume is an opportunity to highlight the positives about you, even if you have experienced some setbacks.

Here are some important tips to help you get your resume ready for your next job opportunity.

TIP #1 - Format Your Resume Properly
  • Regardless of whether you are applying in-person (rare these days) or online, your resume will be a part of your application. Before you begin your search, make sure your resume is prepared and saved in a format that can be easily opened and shared like a word document or a pdf. This will make it easy for you to edit, apply for positions and/or send your resume to people in your network. Now, let's start writing your standout resume!

TIP #2 – Highlight Your Education
  • Employers will always want to know your educational experiences. If you have a college degree, postgraduate degree, or specialized course of study certificate, it is important to highlight when and where you attended school. Always note any types of special curriculum (e.g. a major of study) or achievements that will make you uniquely suited to a position
  • You don’t need to include undergraduate education on your resume unless you graduated, are in the process of graduating or achieved a certification. If an employer asks for education information, you should be very clear about your level of educational achievement. Many people without formal education are able to succeed in the workplace.
  • If you did not complete high school, but have your GED, rather than listing this under Education, list it in Skills.

TIP #3 – Highlight Your Experience
  • A lot of people who are new to the workforce face that challenge of having little to no work experience and being overlooked because of that. If you have no work experience, title this section “Qualifications” instead.
  • If you prepare a “Qualifications” section, focus on past volunteer work, or work you’ve done for friends or family over the years. As a simple example, if you are trying to get a job as a managerial position, your training may have included leading a team or working with a group or holding a leadership position in your school or fraternity. That experience will relate directly to the job.
  • If you’ve had at least one job, label the section “Experience” so you can include your jobs and internships.
  • Action words are very important in all of your descriptions. Be brief and to the point, using phrases like “managed”, “led”, “organized” and “participated in.”

TIP #4 – Show Your Skills
  • List any skills that highlight your unique value. These skills could include speaking multiple languages, computer or leadership skills, or public speaking ability.
  • Physical Skills that would help to qualify you for manual labor positions work well in this category. Even if your education isn’t your strongest quality, your ability to perform certain physical tasks may make you the right fit for a job.

TIP #5 – Get Good References
  • You can either note “references available upon request” on your resume or you can list your references. If you choose to list them, you should list three references who are not your relatives.
  • While using business references (past managers, business owners you’ve helped, managers of volunteer projects you’ve worked on) is ideal, you can also use personal references, such as teachers, youth group leaders, mentors, or community members who know you well. Be sure that these people know that they are listed as your references, and that you provide up-to-date contact information for them.

TIP #6 – Don’t Fall Victim to Poor Spelling, Grammar or Formatting
  • Most computers use spell checkers, but sometimes you’ll make mistakes that aren’t related to spelling, like typing “and” when you meant to type “an.” Read your resume twice for this sort of mistake. Reading out loud or backwards are great ways to catch typographical errors you might otherwise miss.
  • The way your resume looks makes a difference. Most people suggest that your resume be only one page long, and that you leave white space. Look at resumes online and copy a format you like.
  • Fonts matter. Some fonts on computers are really pretty, or look interesting, but they aren’t professional. Use a standard font like Garamond or Arial.
  • Paper choices should be clean. You may not be able to afford a premium linen paper to print your resume, but never opt for frilly papers or stationary with graphics printed on them.
  • Unless the position specifically calls for it, don’t include a photo on your resume. It can be a turn off for some recruiters, so it’s best to play it safe on this one.

TIP #7 – Never Ever Misrepresent or Lie
  • You should know that you have value. No matter what challenges you are facing, you are quite capable. By focusing on your strengths, you can create a great resume. While it may be tempting to exaggerate or inflate your experience, doing so will always come back to haunt you. Form example, never say you “led a team” if you had no direct reports and did not manage projects that required you to delegate work to multiple people.

    Next, we’ll talk about managing your social media profiles and when someone googles your name, what will they find? Ways to clean up your digital footprint.

To learn more tips about interviewing, networking and how to find your next job, visit today!

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