How To Write A Great Resume

In today’s job market, it is critical to have an updated and professional resume to present to employers.

Nine out of ten employers will say that a resume that is messy, has spelling errors, and is not formatted correctly is automatically discarded and not considered for an interview.

There are several necessary points of information that need to be included on a complete resume including current contact information, an objective, education, past and current work experience, and relevant social service/professional organizations you are or have recently been involved with and relevant skills.

Below is a detailed list of the relevant parts of a resume:

  • Current Contact Information – Include your full legal name, permanent address, and a valid phone number in which to reach you.
  • Objective – State your aspirations in the specific market and list a few of your qualities.
  • Education – List any relevant secondary education. Include the schools name, its location (city and state), any degrees earned, and the date of completion. If you are still in school, list your expected graduation date. If you have not graduated, list your high school. *GPA’s (grade point averages) are not necessary to include. List the schools in chronological order, with the most recent first.
  • Past & Current Work Experience – Include your work history, including company name, position held, and job duties. List in chronological order, with the most recent first. *Include military experience in this section.
  • Social Service/Professional Involvement/Skills – Include any social service or professional organizations you are involved in (or recently involved in) as well as any relevant skills you have that would contribute to the company (i.e. a team player).

It is important to try to keep each descriptive line under each heading to one line. Also important is to remember to include your military skills in ‘work place terms’. For example, your last rank (i.e. Staff Sergeant) indicates that you were in charge of others, therefore giving you leadership skills. Including this valuable skill on a resume is looked at positively and can make the difference between your resume and someone else’s.

There are several acceptable formats of a resume. You should choose the most professional template available. While the format is not critical, the consistency is. Make sure the same fonts, font size, etc., are used throughout the document. In addition, it is good to keep it to one page. Employers do not want to sift through multiple pages of a document. Research has proven that attention to a document is lost after the first page, and continues to deplete with every subsequent page.

Last but not least, be sure to proofread! There should be no spelling, grammatical, or formatting errors.

Once you have your resume completed, print it on resume paper (a special paper that is higher quality than regular printer paper). Resume paper is low cost and available at most retail stores. Print several copies to keep on hand.

References

There is no need to include the phrase ‘references available upon request’ on your resume. Most employers assume that you have them available if requested. It is necessary, however, to have a separate reference page with at least three references listed. Two of the three need to be professional references, and one can be personal.

Choosing the best references possible can be critical to your obtainment of a job. When choosing a reference, you want to choose a person with whom you have had pleasant interactions with (both professionally and personally), and who can attest to your positive attitude and committed work ethic. Never include someone who has the potential to speak negatively about his or her interactions with you.

Once you have narrowed it down to at least three references, the next step is to contact those people and ask them if they are willing to be a reference. Never put someone down as a reference, no matter how close of a relationship you have with him or her, without asking his or her permission first. Doing so is considered very unprofessional. Not only does it catch the person off guard so they are not prepared in what to say about you, it also gives them the opportunity to decline your request before they share something that could affect your potential employment negatively. Contacting them before you list them as a reference shows that you behave in a professional manner and reflects positively on you.

After you have applied for a specific job, it is a good idea to send the job description, as well as your cover letter and resume to your references so they are better able to speak to your specific attributes that will help you be an asset to that particular job.