Building a Resume

Whether feverishly searching for a new job or happily experiencing a season of job stability, keeping your resume updated is always a good idea. Unexpected opportunities may arise, or employment security can change suddenly and without notice. Waiting to create (or update) a resume until an emergency strikes is asking for additional stress and unnecessary pressure during what may already be a stressful time. The good news is, building a strong resume that will catch the attention of future employers can take as little as an hour, while also providing peace of mind in the event of an unfortunate job loss. When creating or updating your resume, you'll want to make sure you're familiar with the basics, so your resume stands out from the rest. Below are the top questions to consider when writing your resume.

Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. What kind of information should I include on my resume?
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    Employers primarily want to see the past 10 years of work experience (or up to 15 years if relevant to the job search). Including the high school babysitting job or newspaper route from 20 years ago isn't necessary, unless it will benefit the current search in some way. Recent high school or college grads with limited experience should include jobs that are relevant to the current search or establish a pattern of dedication and discipline.

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  2. What kind of information should I not include on my resume?
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    Keep the personal details at bay. Don't include a photo, physical description, or family information (such as your age, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.) Also, create the resume using a professional font (standard serif or sans serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial) no smaller than 10-point, and print it on standard white printer paper. Employers are typically not impressed with fun fonts or colorful paper.

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  3. What goes at the top of the resume?
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    Begin with a header. At the top of the resume include basic information, such as full name, cell phone number, e-mail address and blog or website information (only if this will support the search or demonstrate industry knowledge or key credentials). Including a permanent mailing address is optional.

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  4. Is a summary statement required?
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    While not required, including a basic summary statement is a good idea. Beneath the header, write one or two sentences that clearly communicate the job or career being pursued. Need help with this? A quick search online will yield hundreds of examples in every imaginable career choice.

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  5. How should a resume be organized?
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    Typically, work experience should be listed in chronological order. Include each company name, position held, length of employment, and a brief description of important duties, achievements, and responsibilities. Keep things positive, concise, and accurate. Employers have a knack for spotting exaggeration.

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  6. Do grammar and spelling really matter?
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    They do. It is not uncommon for an employer to sift 100+ resumes for every open position. When two or more resumes are equal in every other way, sometimes it's a simple spelling or grammatical error that can send the resume into the wrong pile. Use spell check and ask a trustworthy proofreader to take a look before submitting.

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  7. How long is the ideal resume?
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    Keep your resume to one or two pages, depending on previous work experience. Brief is best. Before including any item on the resume ask, "Will this information pique an employer's interest in me?" If it won't, eliminate it or re-write it in a way that grabs someone's attention and won't let go. Use active verbs and power words such as "introduced," "created," or "developed."

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  8. Does one resume work when applying to multiple jobs or should each resume be tailored?
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    While it isn't necessary to tailor a resume with each submission, it is a good idea whenever possible to research the company and what (specifically) it is looking for and then make sure the resume reflects each of the desired strengths or abilities (as long as it is true). If submitting the resume online, be sure to save it in a professional way, since the employer can see the name of the file. Saving it with the wrong company's name, for instance, could get the resume overlooked entirely.

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