Write a Resume

Introduction: Write a Resume

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.

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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.

Step 2: What Does a Potential Employer Expect Then?

Keep in mind; your perception of what a potential employer wants to see and hear is NOT relevant.

Rather, what the potential employer perceives is ALL-IMPORTANT. Your resume must keep this thought in mind at all times.

Any potential employer is looking for qualities like -

Relevance, Initiative, Competency, Ability, Value, Experience&. etc

Are you applying for a job relevant to you, your skills and the company?
Do you have talents worth promoting?
Are you qualified to do and/or experienced at this potential job?
Do you even know what job you are applying for?
Did you research the company and do you know what they do, who they are, what they want?
Do you have competency at the position? Do you even know what the exact position is? Can you prove you're competent? You'll need to.
Are you a leader? A follower?
Can you think and be creative in problem solving?
Are you able to do what you claim and your job dictates?
Do you finish projects you start?
Can you represent the company to clients in an honest professional way?
Will the company get real value for the money they invest in you?
Do you have more than enough academic and work related ability to do the job?
So much more.

These are the sorts of qualities companies are looking for and they do compensate for very well. So now not only do you have to build these qualities in yourself, but your resume must demonstrate this to the potential employer.

Demonstrating qualities.

How do you demonstrate these qualities so your perspective employer will want to know more about you?

To demonstrate Relevance - Apply for a specific position that you have a proven background experience, education or qualifications in and demonstrated ability with or briefly explain why you are driven to this particular job. For example you may only have a background in product assembly but you'll demonstrate, possibly through continuing education, you are driven toward Quality Control Inspection. You may currently have a career in Medical Research but as you mature your interests are shifting to reporting, and would now prefer to do a career shift where you could still apply the research skills but toward authoring magazine articles.

Likewise if you earned a PHD in Design Engineering you won't be considered relevant for a Human Resources position. Unless you can quickly demonstrate the less obvious relevancy in this rather odd move, you will be assumed to be just looking for a stop-gap position and will be gone as soon as a relevant position comes up elsewhere. To the employer this means more expense in finding your replacement and higher employee expense while you are in the learning aspect of the position. No business owner wants to hire someone who they feel will not last.

To demonstrate Initiative - Clearly show that you've researched the Company Profile, the Mission Statement, some major Product Lines etc. Amazing how many applicants attempt to convince a hiring manager they really do want to work for them but admittedly know absolutely nothing about the company, what it does, how they do it or how they will fit in.

To demonstrate Competency - You'll first need to know it is the combination of knowledge, understanding and attitude. Social skills and disposition also both show attitude.

To demonstrate Aptitude - Again you'll need to know it is the human mental ability. Where IQ is a single measurement of smarts, aptitude is the overall impression of smart much beyond an IQ. Some of the stupidest thaings are done by the highest IQ scores. You'll want to indicate, without gloating, academic achievements.

To demonstrate Value - You will need to make it factually clear how hiring you will help the company's profit margin. You'll also need to find a way to indicate they are getting the better part of the deal when they haire you.

Very few if any jobs prefer the freak, punk, goth, tattoo, pierced appearance, unless you are working in the freak, punk, goth, tattoo, pireced related business.
You get the picture? Don't be surprised if you have a hard time finding employment if you appear too off the wall. This is how you need to think and then also present yourself to an employer.

How do you earn "some consideration" from an employer?

You need to demonstrate to the employer real quick that you possess at least some if not most of the qualities he or she finds of value. And you need to stand out from the other hundreds of applicants trying to get that same job. You only need to get 30 seconds of "some consideration" to proceed, without it you're done.

Lucky for you, you found me. The fact of the matter is that only a minority of applicants catches the interest of the employer for any consideration. By keeping in mind what the employer is looking for, you have a distinct edge over most of your competition.

Step 3: Get Your Life Together


Assuming you are truly a quality candidate for the opportunity, as outlines above in Step 2 you&aposll definitely need to capture this in your resume. Gather together your lifelong history; education, employment, clubs, associations, volunteer work, accomplishments, achievements, letters of praise, etc. Everything you&aposve ever been involved with in your community.

Hold it, if you don&apost have such material to work with, you are either overlooking the possible importance of living this life or are hopefully young enough to turn your life around and get involved with living. If you are of employable age and are so unmotivated you have not done anything notable with your life please go out, find a job where you can use an application form and while doing that get an interest in life.

Collect copies of every letter of compliment for a job well done, each achievement, every report card, every course completed, every merit badge you got in Boy Scouts, any certificate, award, or recognition. You did save them for this day, right? If you have nothing you need to answer to yourself why not. Ask around where you can get involved in programs that are big on awards and achievements. Walk the walk and earn some credentials. Consider courses in First-Aid, CPR, hazardous material handling, etc as they are always handy to have and demonstrate a consideration to helping people through being responsible. When you earn praise from someone from mainstream life, thank him or her and ask if they would mind writing a kudos letter that you could use in a resume. Here is a novel idea, write a really good instructable, maybe even win a contest. How&aposs that for an achievement idea? Even if you don&apost quite win you can claim viewer stats. It spreads the idea of Instructable and demonstrates your potential in problem solving, thinking, doing and creativity, all while totally free. Win-win-win.

Don&apost even think of using anything you didn&apost earn or deserve. You just may be asked specific questions to test this. Hiring personnel have heard of all the real colleges and universities around you and may get curious enough to look up any unfamiliar ones. Or worse eliminate you because they don&apost believe or recognize your claimed degree of higher education is for real, even if it is. Take note if you have degrees from legitimate, little known institution of higher learning, realize that without a comment it may not work for you as expected.

No hard working employee/employer thinks much about healthy normal people who are so lazy they can&apost manage to accomplish or achieve in life, and neither do I. There are an unlimited number of places anyone could apply themselves or learned skills within service clubs, volunteering in the community etc, so there really is no excuse to have nothing.

Step 4: Start Your Résumé Building Today.

You should have a Base Resume in the old standard form that you can pull all your data and facts from. Since employers will never see this summary, you can include the bad stuff noted so that you want to remember to keep hidden. Keep all your accomplishments, achievements and kudos with this file. Don't be caught scrambling at the last minute and face the real possibility of missing out an opportunity because you didn't make the cut off level of applicants. A last minute resume is destined to fail, possibly killing opportunities down the road.

You also should have an ongoing Working Resume you could present within a few hours. This is the one the employer will get, so it has to be perfect.

In fact the best time to make your next resume is right after you get a job. Today's market means no one enjoys employment stability to know when he or she will need another job. Layoff and restructuring are an ongoing reality of our fast paced lives. Long gone are the days when you could learn a skill; expect to get a job and keep it until retirement.

Before you even think about the overall look of your resume, you need to know yourself.

There is no right or wrong resume format these days, only what works and what doesn't. While most people rely on the old standard format - objective, skills, reverse order employment history, reverse order education, extra bragging stuff, references on request, etc. Boring, boring, boring. You don't want the screener to accept you because he/she was sleeping do you? You want to catch their attention by subtly being a just a bit different, fresh, unexpected, a flash of brilliance. Avoid the rebel, brash, extreme, wild and crazy approach, as it just never works well; unless of course you are applying for a job that demands hiring a rebel, brash, extreme, wild and crazy approach.

Cover Letter or Not?

Also important is whether you plan to submit a cover letter or not. A cover letter introduces you to the potential employer, summarizes your resume, and makes specific statements to make the employer want to know more. You'd use this to help place your resume in direct context to the specific job opening. Some people feel the use of cover letter is mandatory, others don't. Truth is once upon a time it was a must, just something everyone did. It was also a time when there was a time each type of letter had a specific format. No longer. Do consider the employers preference, if it is a classic prim and proper upper crust establishment employer best to conform and use less obvious tactics with more thought. Personally I don't use the separate cover letter but rather I tweak my resume directly toward the opportunity. I want my resume to convey that I am the perfect candidate for this opportunity, a perfect fit. The potential employer already knows why you are submitting a resume, your resume should already be written in brief summary form, and your resume intro already highlights reasons why the employer should want to consider you. When it all comes down to it a cover letter is just one extra page of fluff because it really says nothing the employer doesn't already know from a good resume.

Step 5: A Noticable & Fresh Résumé Look.


Pick up a piece of any typical typed paper, advertisement or a newsletter, full-width, line after line of blah, blah, blah. Still, consider where your eyes wander first? That is where your employer will also naturally look. Most importantly, this is also the best starting place then direct the employer&aposs eye to go first, second then third, to notice what you want them to see. Remember that is about all the time you get before rejection or acceptance by a junior clerk screening your resume. You can help direct them to look exactly where you prefer with basic font characteristics like larger sized, bold, complimentary but different font to the rest of the text, underscore. Avoid graphics, italics or fancy fonts for almost all jobs.

So what three things, if only three things, do you want your screener to know about you? I think the most important things are; who you are, how to contact you, and how hiring you will help the big boss agree that the hiring person made the right choice. Don&apost be surprised with that, everyone wants to look good and valuable. How you perform after hiring will reflect on the employees that hired you.

Top left margin is the usual first place the eye naturally goes to on a piece of paper. To help draw the eye of the hiring person there, start with your name in regular text and bold, font size 18-24, depending on the length of your names. Use only your preferred first and last name here. Nobody but your own mother usually cares about the rest of the middle names and initials. If your name is way too common use a middle initial to differentiate you from a second applicant with the same name.

In regular text font, sized 14, under your name include simplified contact info, your email plus a phone number that you always answer in private preferably with a message system announcing your name. It is usually best to reply to a message so you have time to think and plan your responses. You&aposll also want a professional sounding email address too, avoid the obvious crazy emails that may limit the jobs. redneck-geek@beerdrinker.com may sound cool, but will not appear professional enough when applying for a quality position. No need for a street address as I&aposve never known a hiring company to ever mail a request for interview although I have seen where an address became a negative because of travel distance to even an interview, rather give it when asked or when you have a job, the assumption being you do live somewhere and know you can get yourself to work on time. It&aposs not that people care to read your contact info but rather that they won&apost have to hunt for it should they decide to contact you for an interview either by phone or email, phone is the usual way for business.

The third area of attention should be a brief 2-3 sentence statement explaining how your achievements are definitely a positive thing for this new company. Consider using regular text font, sized 10-11, like Times New Roman or similar, use bold to set it apart from the regular text that follows. There is a reason Microsoft Word defaults to this font. It is easy on the eyes because it uses serifs (practice some initiative and look this up yourself) and also most widely accepted by businesses. Personally, I like Arial regular because it stands out more through its simplicity.

This is a great place to comment on relevant goal you want to achieve and how this opportunity would help get you there, while at the some time benefiting the company. Having goals in life is a very positive thing to have, employers like it because you people that have goals are motivated. People that demonstrate the ability to separate work from social life from family life show an ability to reach a healthy balance in their life. Hobbies and extra-curricular activities are important to employers. Those that are only career driven don&apost last and burn out prematurely or tire and become a liability to the company.

Step 6: Where's the Resume Beef?

The remainder of the resume is the main follow-up on the "consideration" you earned. The potential employer has finally found a resume worthy of being further considered as a potential prospect. Don't let them down now. You have a captive audience for at least a minute more. You don't need to give the farm away by telling everything about you here. Just the good stuff.

Previous Employment Experiences

Employers realize employees do move on in time. They all wish they didn't have to deal with the expense and efforts of replacing solid employees. They would rather hire new employees because of business growth alone.

Assuming your current, or just past, employment was reasonable and consistent with regards to moving on, take a paragraph to highlight the job position, your major accomplishments and some achievements or goals reached that should indicate what you are offering the prospective company to consider in hiring you. Most serious employers realize that nobody is custom fitted to their exacting needs. They want to know you can adapt accordingly. Present only 2 or 3 past employs within the past 10 to 15 years that represent you best. Rather than putting them in chronological order, try in order of importance to this position.

Usually your most recent is most important, just know that it doesn't have to be. If you are going to alter the normal order remember to be consistent throughout your resume and definitely provide a logical explanaition. The times this works best is when you've had a long or very successful position but followed up with weak experiences. The successful position becomes your most important even though it was not the most recent. Present it as such but make mention of the other non-fit in more general terms and why after trying these no-fit jobs, this is again the proper direction.

The two most important employment opportunities could use a paragraph each. Possibly even the 3rd most important depending pon experience. Further employment could blend into a summary of all other jobs, skills experienced and achieved.

That business owner we heard from in Step 1 admits he "rarely has anyone properly demonstrate accomplishment or achievements. People wrongly believe they are stating accomplishments when there is no specific accomplishments stated."

I improved sales while I worked there; is not an accomplishment because anyone could claim that. Actually it sounds like fluff and would likely result in closer scrutiny or serious doubt with the remainder of the resume, and risk being trash it if I were screening.
I improved sales 1.2% over each previous month during the last six months, 3rd best results in the department so far this year; is an accomplishment, because of specific limits and comparisons of results to other colleagues.

When I worked there I installed Calisters for 3 years; is not an accomplishment, because it could mean just a few or even lots that didn't work, or even relying on pothers do to the work.
Over the last 3 years I installed 78 Calister systems with only 3 failures on install; is an accomplishment.

I'm creative and helped the company with unique solutions to solve their problems; is not an accomplishment because there are no specifics again.
I found a way to divert waste solids by inverting the normal series of filters, after approval it was implemented and saved the company $253k overnight; is an accomplishment, in fact such well placed accomplishments will likely result in an interview.

I worked within a physics research team for 3 years; is not an accomplishment, because you could have done that without lifting a finger or while setting records at the water cooler.
I worked within the skaffer research team where I was responsible for testing the Troposides stability and for Gymsensadle residue on a weekly basis to prevent contamination of the collets fuse; is an accomplishment. Actually many people would believe that statement, even though I made up some words here and there.

Get the picture? An accomplishment or achievement must have, by their very nature, logical, measurable, measurable, provable and relevant facts. Trust me on this, employers want to know you accomplish or achieve goals. You know you've accomplished things, so let them know about some challenging ones.

Also touch on why you preferred to change employ to a new opportunity. Never down play or down talk you current or past employment, as this will indicate to this new employer how you will refer to them in the future. Be positive, "It was a wonderful opportunity but I needed to advance in a way that I was not able to while there" sounds so much better than the "It was a lousy job with no future." No matter how much you hated working where you did, it was your decision to choose to work there and admitting that will surely come across poorly.

Formal Education

Your older educational accomplishments hold less value as time goes on as well. For example after you exit university or have been out of the education system for 15 years, anything up to high school is no longer relevant or worth mentioning, regardless how outstanding it is. High school may be considered mentioning but only because of specific outstanding results, scholarships, athletics etc.

Likewise with employment your current employer is often most important while reducing importance with each previous one. If you've worked for your 4th company or it's been 15+ years since full time education, education usually becomes only a one-paragraph entry. A second paragraph would present continuing education, night school, certificate programs etc. Why don't more people have at least some 2nd paragraph material? It's a great little place to demonstrate self-improvement, adaptability, further learning etc.

The assumption is that you achieved basic High School of course. For those who think they can succeed without graduating high school, listen up. Why is it so important to finish high school when they teach so much crap nobody ever uses? I'll give it to you straight up then. Almost every employer has finished high school, with most having gone well beyond. It is considered by employers one of life's basic achievements, it's relatively easy if you just pay attention, after all they did it. It comes down to "If you can't even finish high school, what can you finish?" (Now I'm not saying there are not special considerations like health, mental ability and capacity, remote location, forced to work to avoid poverty, etc that make it difficult. Maybe even language and immigration, but these don't mean you couldn't try overcoming that obstacle. Now get your high school or stick to application type jobs because resumes will be a waste of time for you.

Further Skills Developed

Here is where one or two paragraphs highlight accomplishments outside of Employment and Education. Make sure they are accomplishments as discussed in Step 6.

The sort of skills I'd mention are recognized programs like Emergence First-Air, CPR, Fire and Health safety, Workplace Accident Prevention, specific equipment operation, software and or computers,

Another paragraph could be devoted to non-work skills developed. Directing and managing, teaching and tutoring, organizing service clubs, community or social events, volunteering, advanced vehicular driving beyond the basics, etc.


I almost always include a short paragraph or two referred to called Interests, Instructables, hobbies, gardening, home repairs etc. It helps present me as not lazy, not just plugging into video games, comfortable creating projects, not afraid of trying or even failing with the unknown.


Just don't do it. This is one of the most useless parts of the common resume, unless Bill Gates handpicked for your programming skills or Mother Theresa for your devotion to humanity. Just think about how silly this is for a minute and you'll see my point. Any reference ever used since man first swung down from the trees and applied for the first job, was one that would give only good comments about someone. Only a fool would use an angry ex-wife or their parole officer right? Employers all know this and they know the game too. Using references actually insults the intelligent of the reader. Ask the next 10 strangers you meet if they would say negative opinions as a reference contact to a potential employer for anyone they know.

Worse yet is to put "Referenced available upon request" or some such comment. Why? Of course you would make them available. If a prospective employer said you not only need to produce 36 references but first jump 27 times off a curb before he would consider your application. You'd reply, "Is this curb right here the one you want me to use." It is a given that you know at least 2 or 3 people that will swear what a good guy you are even if you were totally - duh.

Have some respected contacts and information neatly typed and ready to hand over in an interview but only if you are asked for it. Don't let on what a dumb idea this is to a potential employer in case they still think it's important.

Personally I have a one-page addendum to my resume that has the matching header of my name and fuller complete contact information on top, then list about 20 contact references, (repeat customers of mine and co-workers usually) and simply says check with anyone. I feel this demonstrates the relaxed confidence I have that it wouldn't matter who knows me they have a positive impression of me. The header is to make sure this addendum is identified as mine. I'm naturally this relaxed and positive in daily life, so it's not a big deal. I don't even ask if I can use someone as a reference because it puts them on the spot to tell you they like you. Let them be surprised if (rarely) a potential employer calls them and asks about you. Oh yeah, make sure these people would likely give a reliable comment just in case.

Step 7: Desparate Times Call for Résumé That Wow Them


I have an odd name, one that could easily be taken gender neutral, and one that most people won&apost instantly recognize nationality or race. BTW: I&aposm Caucasian, born and raised in Canada without any visible minority traits, unless you agree today&aposs middle aged white male with a job as the only true minority,

On the top of your resume to the right of your name and contact information print a small clear clean photo of yourself. Head and shoulders only, do it in grayscale because color might be seen as overdone. You want it noticed but not distracting of your 30 seconds of consideration. With the clean-cut business like professional appearance you normally are; your resume just popped into the extra consideration pile with out even much of a second glance. Credit is definitely given to those who have unique ideas, confidence and who go out of their way to be noticed with their creative energy. Please don&apost waste this technique on mediocre level jobs but use it as your Ace-Up-Your-Sleeve for those career maker jobs. If you come across too much or powerful you will actually ruin chances at lower level jobs as every employer there knows you'll be gone at the first opportunity and before you produce any work or production.

Consider using slightly better quality paper. It is easy for the employer to feel and shows you&aposll go out of your way to apply yourself and therefore will likely go out of your way for him too.

Consider paper color tint. Research has shown that business people subconsciously hesitate to discard off white papers. It may have a subliminal link to a fear that someone might notice what he or she are discarding and they don&apost really want to be seen as discarding someone&aposs resume. Use an ever so subtle warm tint like palest ivory, just enough that if resumes were spilled out on a desk yours stands out just enough to be placed into the keeper pile, because for some reason it was remembered.

Don't limit your page number just because someone says you should. If you've had an active, rewarding and challenging life then why not present some of it. A number of things are conveyed by this; you are active; you have an active life; you are goal oriented; you are not afraid to take a chance; you care about your community and fellow man; you have a life outside of work; you are an interesting person; you are likely more sound of mind and are happier; answer - all of the above. My resumes are usually three pages long. Why should I dummy down my accomplishments to two or even one page when I'm trying to persuade an employer that I am the preferred applicant. Now it is important to not get carried away and write a novel (especially fiction). Your accomplishments should reflect superior achievements the more experienced you get.

Step 8: Addressing Specific Résumé Concerns

Special challenging situations require creative solutions and here is a collection of my best. If you are grasping the concepts I'm presenting on Writing a resume, you will find your own ways to customize your own situation.

Gender Issue - This becomes an issue when you are looking outside the "normal" gender roles. Not only a problem for females applying for make dominated positions, but also for males entering women dominated positions.
Gender Solution - Write your resume in a gender-neutral tone so you can gain some consideration by the hiring personnel. The goal is to eliminate or cancel the gender bias of all but the hiring decision makers. If there is still a bias against you at that level, consider that it just might be better to not work for them. Life could get rough for both the women and the men working in a poisoned work environment. If you do get hired don't insist the men take down risque calendars and rather post some beefcake ones to show your cool with fitting in, guys don't take the razing about your masculinity too hard rather tease back again to show you are cool and can enjoy banter as well. Your negative reaction will only escalate hostilities.

Old Age Issue - Getting long in the tooth is combated by not mentioning age directly. There are many workers accomplishing jobs nobody expected them to even try.
Old Age Solution - I'm 54, feel 30 and can keep up with the younger crowd in most things, yet I can offer a lot of technical and client experience because I lived and repaired computers before there were PC's, equipment that ran on vacuum tubes, but also with lasers, ultrasound and advanced medical analyzers. That's what I present, my adaptable range and learning ability.

Young Age Issue - Having little or no experience is a challenge. You can't get experience without a job and you can't get a job without experience.
Young Age Solution - Dedicate yourself to completing your education in employable fields and that you enjoy. Better yet set your goal at any career plus computers. Computers are everywhere, computer people are everywhere but what are missing are the computer people who really understand non-computer applications. Eventually this combination is where the skill market will be of most demand. Computers are everywhere and it will be very hard to do well with any employment without computer application skills. Problem is that now many people have some computer skills. They just can't combine it with real work. Rather than being a mechanic, you'd do better to become a computer assisted mechanic, computer crime law enforcement, robotics repair or development, or working with computer assisted medical appliances, nano-technology. You already see it happening with Accountants although would do much better to better learn computers in addition to the accounting. Do apply for entry positions to gain practical experience. Working at jobs beyond your ability is challenging but can also do more damage to your progress that you realize. You've got to earn your stripes by growing as you are learning. So develop a track to your eventual goal and work toward that goal.

Just Fired or Let Go - Ouch that. There is no good way to look at this. You may have screwed up or for some reason you stopped being of enough value to the employer. You do need to understand this.
Just Fired or Let Go Solution - Admit you made an error, you learned from it, corrected it and/or changed your opinion accordingly and are ready to move on with the knowledge gained. This is how you need to answer this in interviews too. Been there, done that, proof it does work.

Job Hunting in Another City - You are planning to move to another city. Applying for a job position in another city becomes more difficult if the employer knows you must travel for an interview. Sub-consciously they don't want to pay to call you in for an interview and they don't want to waste your time and money only to turn you down.
Job Hunting in Another City Solution - You don't really need to include an address on your resume, you want to be considered along with the local applicants. If you do include an address, definitely then use a cover letter to state some specific dates you are already going to be nearby and state you would definitely be interested in interviews with them then if possible. You don't need to actually have planned to be there but it does clear them of any cost obligations because you are already nearby. I learned this by accident when moving to another city 5 hours drive away once. Before stating I'd be in town, my resume to interview rate was 0 for 11, then after that it instantly jumped to 3 for 3. Being nearby was the only real difference I could find. Of course when they agreed to see me on specific dates I took the drive. In three days I had three interviews and two offers to consider. Interestingly two of the potential employers said to call when in town and they would accommodate me. It was like magic.

Every negative you have can be creatively adapted to work as a positive. Just remember to think as an employer, to be a better employee.

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    10 Discussions


    I think the resume of CV system must work differently in different parts of the world.
    In the UK if you have more than 2 pages to your document (not including covering letter) you have done something wrong, there's too much for a prospective employer to read and you probably won't get an interview.
    Your information needs to be presented in a very accessible manner, no prospective employer wants to read your life history, they want things in bullet points so they can see the relevent experiences.
    Also, the majority of recruitment is done using the internet and a CV can be found using keywords. Your CV needs to know what keywords a potential employer is looking for and make itself easy for them to find.
    You do make a very good point, the resume is only the tool to get you an interview, once you're infront of the employer is when you must shine. In some jobs you may also have a telephone interview before a face-to-face.
    It's a well put together instructable, I'm sure good advice for your area/job market, but perhaps isn't for every situation.


    7 years ago on Step 8

    Do you think obtaining a local area code via call forwarding through things like Google Voice is a good way to avoid job hunting issues in another city?


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 8

    Not sure it would help, in that they may end up with the mistaken impression that you are local and therefore minimize the chances of an interview apart and separate from the 'rest'.
    Although, if a local number is offered with an explanation that the local number is for their convenience to reach you it can help, shows initiative and interest on your part too. Although I’ve not heard that a long distance phone call has stopped business from calling someone they are interested to see.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for posting this instructable. It's great! I've been looking for employment for over a month now and this is the first article that I've seen on resumes that goes in depth about the how/why's of resume writing.


    i think this is a great ible. i've been in a supervisory/hiring position for 2 years, and i saw 300+ resumes in a week at times. if the writer misspelled ONE word, or had an unprofessional email (hornybeast6969@hotmail.com, i kid you not), or had 3 different presentations of their name (James Smith on the resume, followed by jack.smith@hotmail.com, cover letter signed Jim), or "I am applying for the position of assistant to the manager" (we were hiring paralegals), or any of the MOST basic mistakes made me want to set fire to my hair. now, i am looking for a new position, and i cannot fix my own resume to save myself. it's driving me insane, and i even went so far as to pay a "professional" a whole bunch of money to do it for me. they did a hideous job, and i spent hours arguing with them to save it from the mediocre pap that they had turned it into >:( anyway, i wish i'd read your ible before i forked out all this dough!! great work.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    There's a lot of good detail in here - is that your resume? But both would benefit from being more concise.

    Some poor person running through a pile of applications does not want to be reading that much text (I know) - they want two (max) clear pages with the most important stuff - not waffle about e.g. how many page hits your online articles have received.
    I'm not trying to throw negative vibes at this, but it is too long.



    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the reply. Yup they are me. The one in step 8 is one that actually got me 2 job offers out of 3 interviews; of only 6 attempts. In the end I realized I could do so much better financially working for myself and so now have the best job working for the best boss - me. I've only changed some company info for anonymity and the rest is original. With my age and experience, I've done that much and more. Of course nobody but me sees the example in step 4 it's just used to pick data from, all details are handy and in one place, on a computer file. Page numbers are irrelevant. I want the interviewer to know I've worked hard to achieved a lot and it just won't fit on 2 pages. I know no screener is going to read much more than a paragraph and that briefly. The plan is for the screener, when directed to the 3 to 4 natural areas I know they will be scanning; realize I'm a valid candidate that needs further consideration. That's it, just one goal; to make the smaller pile. The secondary screener or interviewer will likely also be drawn to the same areas but will glance around more and see solid facts, relevant accomplishments and real achievements wherever they look. They are not likely to dismiss me as I stand out from the majority of other applicants. I will make the interview list. That is the only next goal; further consideration. Without a cover page 3 pages is ok. Why would I try to look like others, blend into the crowd, do the routine, the accepted. The routine, the accepted norm and crowd all end up in the trash. Wordy will also work, but only if there is no signs of fluff or bull anywhere they glance, and I do mean anywhere. In my resume, not only is everything verifiable, it's also far from complete. It doesn't touch on my Forester and Military time nor my artistic and athletics side. The page hits you mention would be intended for someone just starting out first job or two, maybe summer employment while in school; also for someone who possibly because of location or physical reasons just can't easily volunteer or get job experience; or like a farm teen. Definitely not for a mature adult in a urban location. Nobody should be trying to copy my resume as they are not me and my resume sets up a certain expectation for the interview. You need to be able to follow-up the resume. Rather I hope to get people thinking outside the box with these examples so they a can create their own resume that stand out from the crowd.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Having been through job applications and interviewed people, I would suggest that one of your major strengths is your experience. The one in step 8 didn't get you 2 job offers out of 3 interviews - experience and the interviews did that for you. Employers usually have some rules / procedure, whereby they must make legally-defensible decisions - if an applicant meets all the requirements they must be interviewed. L


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You are right that the 2 offers resulted because the interview, but more important is getting 3 interviews out of 6 submits. Those interviews would never have happened based on normal appearing, blend in the crowd resumes. I know my results were more typical to others when I filed cover letters and the standard so called more proper point form resumes. Now they rocket me into consideration far above what is normal. As for there being rules/proceedures, whereby they must make legally-defensible decisions etc. Never heard of it, not around here in Canada, maybe in the UK, certainly not in private industry which is my world. Maybe in government with quota hiring or within union hiring/promotion. Companies do need to be careful what they tell a person about why they didn't get the offer, because there may be issues then. Any employer simply needs to claim they found a preferred candidate. Prefence includes experience, attitude, presentation, perception etc and opinion can not be forced in courts. Even a more interesting resume style could be claimed as a reason to prefer one over another. As a private industry owner, risking my capital to create a profit, there never will come a day when I'm told I have to hire someone that is not my prefered candidate, nor will there ever be unions either, but that is another topic.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm, but you're saying 50% of prospective employers looked at you resume and didn't think it worth inviting you for an interview? Did the three indicate that they only interviewed you because your resume stood out, and did you ask for feedback from the three who didn't (I only ask because I'm curious as to whether many people do) I tell you one thing that would make me want to avoid interviewing you (and it's not personal at all, just the words) "You need me for this position and we should talk soon". That can come across as extreme arrogance - there are better ways to convey the essence of your conviction. Still I hate writing these things, it is good to see someone make the effort to publish a detailed work - I like the inclusion of the employer's comments. L