Not that long ago, the easiest way to get a job was to visit the company you wanted to work for and ask for one. Today, however, it's not quite that simple. Most companies require you to submit your resume to them before they'll consider you for a position. So the resume has become a great deal more important, because it's the first, and possibly last, chance you have to make the right impression. That's why it's so important to get it right!
First off, you need to start writing a resume by being clear about what you're trying to achieve. Which company are you planning to apply to? What type of job are you hoping to get? The answers to those questions will give you a direction for your resume. Remember, no matter how good your resume is, if the person reading it doesn't think you're suitable for the job, you won't get any further. So make your resume good, but don't spend countless hours stressing about making it perfect; you're probably wasting your time.
It's a good idea to keep your resume short and simple. The person reading your resume probably has dozens, if not hundreds more resumes to read through, and rather than waste time reading your lengthy life history, will put your resume aside and read somebody else's. Work out the types of things the employer is most likely to want from an employee, and make sure your resume shows you have those skills or qualities. For example, if the job is likely to require attention to detail, mention your ability in that area. Summarize your past job responsibilities with a focus on skills requiring attention to detail. Give your prospective employers plenty of chances to see how your skills could benefit their organization.
Perhaps you've never had this type of job before, and so don't know exactly what the employer will be looking for. That's okay; just spend some time researching the industry. If possible, ask some professionals in that industry what type of skills or qualities they'd look for in a person holding the job you're applying for. Look at job advertisements, searching for clues, particularly if they mention certain qualities they're looking for. Check out newspapers at the library, or search on the Internet. Even better, look at the website of your potential employer, if they have one. Learn as much as you can about the business you're trying to join, so that you have a better chance of targeting your resume correctly. That knowledge will pay off in an interview, because you can show you know something about the employer's industry.
One word of warning - never make the mistake of writing a general resume, hoping that you'll hit all the right buttons. That almost never works.
Now that you have an idea what sort of direction you need to give your resume, start putting it together. Most resumes contain the following sections, although they can vary a little depending on the industry. Still, you should always try to cover these areas somewhere in your resume:
- Employment history
- Positive personal characteristics
- Computer or technical skills
- Educational background and results (include GPA if it's over 3.0)
- Any other relevant accomplishments, such as a public speaking award
Once you get the hang of it, writing a resume really isn't hard. All you have to do is put in everything you can to show the prospective employer that you can add value to their business, and take out anything that doesn't.
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