First Aid for an Ailing Resume

By: Meredith Pond

With the economy threatening a recession, many corporations
aren't doing as well as their profit projections have predicted.
As a result, thousands of people are being laid off every week.
All of these people are out there looking for a shrinking number
of high-paying jobs with the few companies that ARE financially
sound. If you're one of those unfortunate professionals who has
been left to hunt for a new job, it's more important than ever
that you make a good first impression.

Most people would assume that the first opportunity to make an
impression on a company arises at the first personal interview.
As reasonable as that sounds, reality is a bit less obvious.
Have you ever stopped to think that the absolute first impression
you make on a potential employer is made through your resume?

As you might expect, most HR managers will start by sorting out
which resumes include the required experience, skills, and
education. Contrary to popular belief, however, you won't
necessarily be dismissed off-hand if you don't possess everything
mentioned in the company's ad.

Many companies (especially the good ones) place a huge amount of
importance on personality, work ethic, and general "fit" with the
company and its employees. If you can get in for an interview,
you have a good chance of filling those empty shoes. So how do
you get your foot in the door, especially if you don't have all
the required skills and education? You guessed it: your stunning
resume.

When writing your resume, there are a lot of things to think
about.

First, always include your "objective" near the top,
right under your name and contact information. In one or two
sentences, convey your desire for a challenging, long-term career
with a strong company. You don't need to reveal any personal
information or tell them your life story. Supplement your
objective with a BRIEF, to-the-point cover letter, explaining who
you are, where you saw the ad, and why you should be considered
for the job.

When listing your past work experience, start with the most
recent position and work your way back. When describing your
duties, don't water it down too much, and be specific. Instead
of saying that you were in charge of accounts payable, tell them
you were responsible for accurate and timely invoice entry, as
well as reviewing vouchers for errors, posting transactions,
printing checks, etc.

Also, don't assume that certain skills and responsibilities won't
be applicable to the job you're applying for. When listing your
skills, list all of them. If you're applying for a receptionist
position, but you have excellent writing skills, say so. If
you're a graphic artist by profession but know Microsoft Excel
like the back of your hand, tell them that, too. When it comes
to fundamentals like computer and communication skills, there's
no such thing as overkill.

When writing about your education, it's always appropriate to
toot your own horn. If you were student body president, say so.
If you were a member of your high school or college Key Club,
Chess Club, or Lawnchair Rewebbing Association (as I was), put it
down. At the very least, such information will arouse curiosity
about you and show that you're a well-rounded person.

As far as your GPA is concerned, a high one is always impressive,
especially when combined with a lot of extracurricular
activities. However, even if your grades weren't always honor
roll material, your experience and student involvement will
always make that number look better than you think. If your GPA
was pretty decent in your eyes, don't feel strange about
revealing it.

In college, many of us (myself included) earned higher grades in
our specific programs than in college in general. If that's the
case, you can list both averages separately, or simply state that
your English department GPA was a 3.6. Most employers won't ask
you to tell them any more than that.

As a general rule, a resume should be comprised of headlines
(objective, experience, education, and skills) followed by bullet
points, not long paragraphs. HR managers are busy, and they
don't have time to sit and read a narrative. Give them the
information they want, but give it to them briefly, in plain
English. In shortComputer Technology Articles, include anything that will make you look good
to the professional world without revealing too much personal
information or telling a story.

Writing Resumes
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