How to Get a Great Job: Writing and Formatting Your Resume
Ready to Write?
- Look at sample resumes to get ideas. Check out books on resume-writing from your library, or look at samples online. One site to visit is http://wetfeet.com/Experienced-Hire/Resume---Cover-letter.aspx.
- Dump all information for your work history and education into a word processing document. Double-check the dates, titles, and details of each job position; your education, grade point average or other information included; then save that document.
- Write to your audience. How can your experience, skills, and degrees benefit them? How will your work history translate to learning a new job?
- Next, outline the information and add sections as preferred: keywords, summary statement, etc.
- Go back and edit. Tighten up the writing to keep it concise and action-oriented (lots of verbs), and include focus on specific accomplishments or responsibilities. You don’t have to use complete sentences; bulleted lists of statements are best.
- Once you feel you have a complete draft, format the document so that it’s visually appealing. (See “Your Hard-Copy Resume” below.)
- Proofread the final document twice, then once reading backward.
- Ask at least one other person to review it and proofread it again.
- Save your final document and prepare to rewrite a version for each job you apply for.
Formatted & Plain Text Resumes
Your Formatted Resume
Resume Formatting Do’s and Don’ts
A Case for Sending PDFs
Your Plain Text Resume
Turn Your Resume into a Job Application
- Strip out all formatting, including bold, italics, centering. Use one typeface and size—preferably something commonly used like Times or Arial.
- Change formatting to remove columns or tabbed sections.
- Remove bullet points.
- Remove hard returns at the end of lines.
- Save your document as a text file, with the extension .txt to ensure all invisible coding is stripped out.
- Review the plain-text document using a text editor program such as Notepad or SimpleText to ensure you’re seeing it accurately.
Sending Resumes by E-mail
Jill Silman, SPHR, vice-president at Meador Staffing Services and a spokesperson for the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), says that her recruiting company receives resumes by e-mail (as attachments) or uploaded to their website. Therefore, “The more plainly they’re formatted, the better. We prefer [Word documents] so that if we need to reformat it for a client, we can.” She encourages job seekers to also check the format of their resume for consistency: “If you put one employer name in boldface, use boldface for all of them.”
Her company keeps resumes in a database, and searches on keywords for each specific opening. “We get some resumes that have a keywords section, and that’s fine—I don’t have a problem with that. We do see some where the person has been counseled to put keywords in small, white type at the bottom of the resume so they’re invisible; the problem with that is that if the words aren’t used in the body of the resume, when the recruiter goes to look at the resume, they can’t see the words.”
Dionna Keels, a member of the SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] staffing management expertise panel, says, “I definitely prefer a Word document that’s nicely formatted. Your formatting is really important. A resume that’s formatted well is more appealing to the eye and it’s easier to read.”
What’s important now is that people are able to point out specific things they’ve accomplished rather than a laundry list of job duties. Include measurable accomplishments, such as “I saved $xx by improving a process.”
And if your work history includes gaps or multiple short stays at jobs, Keels recommends, “Consider including a footnote about why you left. That way you’re not leaving it up to the recruiter’s imagination.” Another option is to address the issue in your cover letter.
The Last Word
Photo credit: by Clemson