Many opinions abound on how to write a resume. Ask any 20 people and you'll likely end up with 21 answers (even if you didn't have one of your own).
While this Instructable may appear rather wordy, there is a wealth of information within plus a concept you really do need to understand for success. Can you get a job without this? Of course you can, others prove it every day. Will you increase your employment success with my method, unquestionably, and as a side benefit you will learn tips for interviews. Personally my success rate from resume to interview approached 45%. Not to say that my interviews always went that well but the resume did get me consideration. As well as it turned out I didn't have enough attempts at applying for jobs to make a valid statistical analysis. Somehow it never took long to get a job and I've never been unemployed for more than two weeks.
Why all the diversity in answers? Just like in weight-loss programs, everyone has an opinion and they will try to convince you they know what works. Mine is just an opinion too. After you finish my "ible" and you begin having dramatically improved results, hopefully even ending with a new job, you too will realize just how right I was. A resume should be as unique as the person writing it and you'll understand that very soon. What works for one person will not necessarily work for everyone but may work for some others. The concept should work for most.
With so many ways of writing a resume, which resume style will work best for me? That's right, you may need a few different ones depending on the jobs you seek. So how do you know what to do?
What is a Resume?
Since almost everyone needs an income it follows they also require a job of some kind or work for themselves. To remain within the context of the "ible" we will not consider self-employment here. To apply for jobs you either use an application or a resume (call it what you want but a CV and a resume are the same thing in my world, however the nose is stuck just a bit further in the air when saying CV or in the latin form, curriculum vitae).
According to Dictionary.com
resume - Pronunciation [rez-oo-mey] - a noun
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.
According to Wikipedia
A resume is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education. The resume or CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment.
Let's set something straight early in this "ible". A resume is not the same tool as a job application. Job applications tend to be fill-in-the-blank forms prospective employers use to make it easier to gather information on applicants in an easy, uniform format. The advantage of application forms is to cookie cutter fit prospective employees, to then sort these quickly and hire who closest meets your immediate need. These jobs tend to be general labor, minimum wage, high turnover, and basic skill level jobs. Don't get me wrong here; there is nothing wrong with these jobs or the application form hiring practice. Resumes are generally used for advanced skill, specific career, higher benefit, and lower turnover type jobs. You wouldn't bring caviar to a tailgate party would you? It is important to use the correct tool for the correct job. Using a resume to apply to a fast-food burger joint can be just as harmful to a successful hiring as an application form is when applying for position as a computer consultant. One is overkill while the other is under kill; either way you are broadcasting you do not understand the difference. Not in a good way, anyway.
What will a good resume Do For You?
Even today, many people still think a good resume gets you a good job. Wrong!
Just like a good education does not give you a good job, a good resume will only get you "some consideration". "Some consideration" by a potential employer, that's it, plain and simple.
How much of "some" will depend on how you are perceived by the prospective employer to which you apply? The good news is that you can have a direct input into this influence. The perception can be directed by your resume as well in person.
I ask you; how can you maximize the desired perception when applying for a job if you do not know the prospective company nor what they consider important from applicants?
It's that perception is what gets you a more consideration.
You likely have your own opinions and views of how the hiring process goes, at least from an applicants' viewpoint. But have you considered the viewpoint of an employer?
WARNING: What you are about to read is likely going to offend some readers. Not because of violence or language, rather because of it's truths.
Step 1: Understanding How Companies Hire.
From an applicant point of view, getting hired can become an intimidating experience. First you need to comit to write details about yourself being ever so careful not to hint at anything not in your favor; you feel you may as well cheat like everyone else and make yourself look bigger than life because if you don't you won't be considered anyway; you want to tear down others who must also be exaggerating; yeah, that's it, that's why you never get called; next you need to send out a gazillion resumes because it's likely just a numbers thing anyway with the more people checking your resume the more likely you'll be called, it's sort of a lottery mentality to increase your chances by buying more tickets, fire up the emails, print off hundreds of copies of your resume, co-ordinate a mass mailing; damn companies, they don't care about you anyway because they never call you to even let you know you didn't make it or why, if only they would tell you why you could show them why they are wrong; a person looking for a job needs to use every trick in the book to just level the playing field so they have a chance; and so it goes. Right? Can you relate to this? Almost everyone can in some way or other. Most of us have been there, most still are.
Time to get off this silly merry-go-round and see why this is all so wrong and in so many ways. Take a step back and try and see the game from the other side.
To gain an understanding of "The Big Picture" and the viewpoint of just one prospective employer's side of the employment picture, lets hear from one knowledgeable working business owner of a very successful software company of (owner built this company from himself as lone employee to about 100 employees over the past 15 years) - names withheld for obvious reasons.
People apply to us all the time, each week we get 10-15 resumes. Our website encourages this practice and also lists key positions we're interested in attracting specific candidates for. Usually we look within for current employees to suggest candidates they may know before we advertise public. Current employees tend to only suggest quality candidates regardless of what they tell their friends. When we do advertise with an available position we begin to receive masses of applicants. Within days and even hours resumes come from everywhere. Within a week we usually tend to cut off applicants at 300-400 resumes because we just haven't got the time or money to waste looking further when we don't have to. Everything step we take costs money because the hiring process is taking away from productive time. We do put any extra applications aside as we might check them later, but most likely not.
To handle these incoming applications a couple of specially trained junior clerks are assigned the task to pre-screen received applications. They are directed to trash the obviously uninterested candidates instantly, as they waste everyone's time. We consider that someone is not really interested when they have obviously not proofread their resume for typos, spelling and grammatical errors; are just too difficult to read or find information; sloppy is out; basic requirements are missing, photocopies and obvious bulk mailings etc. Since these people are presenting the absolute (as yet unquestioned) best of themselves for consideration, (without any time limits) it must be the best they can do and also be good enough for my company. If they show they are not concerned that their resume is a best effort, they likely will not be concerned with doing their job with the best effort. It is not good enough to just "give it a try".
These pre-screening clerks are allowed to forward or deny any applicant they so choose based on the above criteria. On average at least 75% of applicants are thus quickly rejected. Experienced secondary senior clerks will spot check and question the clerks as to why an applicant was advanced or not. Valid explanations are expected, retraining is offered if too many problem candidates are skipped or passed.
The secondary screeners are also looking for more specific items like unexplained gaps in activity or employment history, this highlights the applicant goes through times doing nothing, or was incarceration, on mental leaves, these are possibly times when you worked at a job you were fired from or prefer not to mention; any excessive job-hopping with either time and/or job types may indicate a candidate does not know what they want to do or quits too easy or will likely not last very long and I don't want to pay for that; specifics on experience and education with respect to the open position; did the candidate complete the course or did they just attend for the time period; do you actually exceed the minimum stated requirements, after all this is the minimum criteria; Fluff & stuff, when your job is to screen 300-400 resumes you quickly learn to spot fluff and embellishments, simply put it can't be verified it's not a fact and if it is not a fact don't waste our time with it as we all know what fluff is; obvious conflicting statements like stating 12 years experience working in high tech or you graduated college 5 years ago when you are only 24 years old, even if this is true they'd need to point out why this just looks too odd to believe; there are several other of course.
Possibly a manageable few dozen applicants will actually make it to my desk. In one sitting I'll review all of them. I feel that for making it to my desk they deserve "some consideration". The consideration I grant is 30 seconds of my time. In that half-minute they must somehow impress me enough to justify more of my consideration, possibly up to a minute more. I'm not going to read every word of every resume; I'm too busy for that. I've interested them with a good job offer, now they must interest me to want to see more. Within that short time I want to see that the applicant is intelligent, accomplished, determined and of good value to my company. Otherwise they'll also "get trashed". Even at one minute each it takes valuable time to give consideration to each of a few dozen. I'll carefully read every word of the very few quality candidates that have impressed me with their resumes. Senior staff will also review selected candidates before interviews are considered.
Very few of these resumes give me enough to want to know more. I try not to have to interview more than half a dozen few good and promising candidates. We will phone and bring in those of interest for a first interview. A second interview will be used to decide who receives the offer. Rarely does this not find our quality candidate but it can happen. We will start the whole process over if we have to but we will not go back to reconsider someone eliminated along the way because I feel when we eliminate a candidate they were not a candidate we wanted. We use this system successfully with all positions but on the less critical positions I only get involved with the final interviews.
We actually have a low turnover rate so we know we are selecting quality, dedicated candidates. Once on board they enjoy above average compensation, benefits, and a helpful, family friendly, atmosphere and work environment. The right people can really fit in and really make the difference to company growth."
Wow, does that sound tough? Do you find it surprising? Is this fair?
It doesn't matter if it is fair; it is the reality of working for a business owner employer. He is the business owner and the hired candidate gets paid out of his pocket. That money comes from the profits all previously hired candidates earn for him. If he hires the right candidate, work is accomplished and profits will likely increase. But, if he hires the wrong candidate it will cost him money and possibly disharmony with other staff. Always keep in mind the business owner is running a business to make money and not to supply a social network for citizens to enjoy. That is the sub-conscious reality of employment in most successful companies.
Think your resume would stand up to this business owner? At which point would you disqualify yourself from consideration for a position at his company. Would you even get "some consideration"? Fact is you need a resume that would stand up and stand out.
Now I'm not saying all employers are like this, but some are and it is better to be prepared for this type of opportunity.
When your resume consistently stands out, job hunting stops being a numbers game of averaging a few interviews per hundred submitted with a take what you can get solution. It will bring you in for interviews on a consistent basis so you can focus on specific quality prospects.
Let's see how to do it then.