Ah, the mighty resume.  If you thought it was merely an insignificant piece of paper, you thought wrong! The resume is your one chance to display yourself as an optimal candidate to an organization, and in a world of standardized resumes and cookie cutter templates, it can be increasingly difficult to figure out exactly how to utilize a resume to make you stand out from the masses. Remember, a resume’s purpose is to display your skills and experience in the best light in hopes of being invited for an interview, so it’s important that you put together an exceptional resume to ensure that you get that chance. We’re going to help walk you through the pieces of the resume and give you some advice on how to best display yourself and your experience.

First, it’s important to understand the different parts of the resume and what you need to accomplish in each section.

Header: The header of the resume displays your name and contact information. This needs to be used to catch the employer’s attention. It should display your full professional name and current contact information; it is imperative to make sure this contact info is up to date! It’s also important to make your name in a larger font to help it stand out on the page.

The Objective: From our personal experience, we have found the objective statement is where individuals can easily get off track. Often times, we see a very generic objective. This is a resume taboo. The objective is a one to two line statement that reflects your career goal. This should be used to display precisely what you are looking for as a career path; it should be poignant and captivating. If you feel that your objective is too vague, then try to take a more creative approach or leave out the objective entirely.

The Body: The body of the resume is used to display all of your credentials. This includes current and previous work experience, education, achievements, leadership involvement, specialty skills, etc.

o Work Experience: Highlight important career experience and responsibilities as well as the dates employed at your positions. Make sure to be honest here and list only fields that you are actually experienced in. Employers will find out if your experience listed is inaccurate, as it will be apparent when you have difficulty explaining it, or worse, when you are unable to perform the tasks later on. Also, make sure to keep your experience direct and to the point. Including results- not just what you did but how it impacted the organization- is a huge plus.

o Education: Always display your highest education received.

o Leadership: This should include any associations or activity involvement/leadership roles you have participated in, especially as it pertains to the position you are applying for.

o Achievements: List any important career awards or promotions received.

o Skills: This is used to highlight specialty skills that you possess.

References: References are optional to include on your resume. You can either elect to include them on a separate page or you can tell the employer that they can be made available upon request.

Now, it’s time to start putting together your resume. This is a process and takes time so don’t get frustrated. Remember, this needs to reflect you and help you to stand out amongst the crowd, so a lot of thought and creativity is important. Some suggestions to think about when writing your resume:

– Use bulleted and concise sentences to display your experience.

– Watch your tenses. Often times individuals will write some skills in the present tense and others in the past tense; make sure to keep this consistent.

– Use creative action words that will pop on your resume. These action words are often key search terms for employers when they are looking for resumes so make sure you use words that are relevant to the position.  Avoid cliches at all costs!

– Highlight your strengths.  As mentioned before, don’t just say generic positive traits like “Was able to multitask.”  Use specific examples and demonstrate your impact.

– Cater to the job you are applying for. Make sure to highlight experience that will prove to be beneficial for the job you are applying for.

– White space is important. Too much information is a bad thing and can cause employers to pass it up. Keep your resume light and to the point.

– Have people review your resume and then review it again and again. It’s easy to overlook mistakes and just one little mistake can ruin your chances for an interview. It’s also beneficial to get a couple of opinions as they can help to give you creative and innovative tips on helping your resume stand out.

You now have the foundation, now build that resume! Remember, creating a resume takes time, so be patient, stay focused and keep yourself motivated!

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