A resume can be a scary thing to write – it can feel overwhelming, frustrating and you may not even know where to begin. Sometimes it seems that the rules are always changing about what you should or shouldn’t include. Are objectives still used? What about references? I’ve got some resources to help you polish your resume and help it stand out.
There is no one right answer about a resume format or layout. It truly depends on who you are, where you’re applying and your work background. An executive professional’s resume will look very different than someone who is in high school looking for their first job. A graphic designer’s resume will look very different than an administrative assistant’s. The general rule of thumb is to try to stick to around one page. There are exceptions to this rule: you’re an executive with an extensive work history, the position you’re interested in wants your entire work history, or many other reasons.
If you find yourself running over to a second page, evaluate the content and layout. Do you have lots of empty space on the page? Is your font too big or small? Can you use appropriate abbreviations to condense some things? Don’t feel like you have to get it right on the first try. Many people go through multiple resume revisions before they feel satisfied with their result.
Stick with a clean organized look. Don’t use overly fancy fonts or colors. At most only use two fonts – one for headings and one for the detailed text. Don’t leave lots of empty space. Even if you’re just starting out, you can still have a polished and well-developed looking resume.
Use a proofreader. Ask a trusted adviser, career services professional, family member or friend to proof your resume. Someone else may catch an error you missed (especially after you’ve been looking at it for a while) or may have a good suggestion on wording.
How do you know which skills to include in your resume? Read the job description carefully and make sure you include as many of the skills you have that are listed in the description. If you have skills that are closely related to the ones in the job description, include those too.
Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. You wouldn’t hand the same resume to both the manager of a fast food chain and a lawn-care company because these jobs are looking for different skills. Make sure your resume reflects the skills and requirements the employer is seeking. This doesn’t mean lie and list skills you don’t have! This means you would highlight certain skills for a fast food chain that are different than those for a lawn-care company. You might list for a fast food chain that you’re efficient, proficient with food prep equipment and able to manage your time efficiently. For the lawn-care company you might highlight your lawn care equipment skills, that you’re able to follow directions well, and you’re efficient with your time. Some skills will always stay on your resume, simply because they’re what most employers are looking for in any employee.
If you want to boost your skill set, visit Lynda.com through the library to browse their selection of courses, learning paths and videos. Lynda has so many amazing options to help anyone boost their skill set, learn a new skill or even help you become an expert in something. There are topics on everything from basic job skills to becoming an expert in very technical software. Lynda lets you create a playlist of content so that you can keep everything you want to work on in one place. You can even get a certificate from the website once you complete a learning path on things like “Become a Project Coordinator” or “Advance Your Skills As A Manager.” Click on the “Research It” tab from our homepage and select Lynda.com to get started with your library card. Reach out to your trusted career adviser or visit the Topeka Workforce to learn about occupational skills training.
Don’t forget that your resume is a great example of your writing and communication skills. Make sure it’s error free and easy to understand so you can demonstrate these skills.
A Good First Impression
Your resume is often your first impression with any potential employer. Don’t wait until the last minute to work on it. Give yourself plenty of time to create it, format it and revise it. Have people look it over and even read it out loud! You want to create a solid first impression. Many employers spend a reported six seconds or less looking at resumes. Make sure yours is one they keep by making your information current, organized and tailored to the position you’re applying for.
Browse a collection of resume resources in our collection.
More Resources for Job Hunters
If you are on the job hunt, visit our Jobs and Careers page. There you’ll find links for job and career search, resumes and cover letters, local employers, and information on an upcoming job series called Job Lab. Job Lab will help you develop a step-by-step plan to get the job or career of your dreams. Starting in October this group will cover a different strategy or skill that is essential to a successful job search each week.