This article is part four of a series of articles that will help you get your ideal job. From developing a professional resume to acing an interview, this series will help you understand what it takes to get hired in a competitive job market.
Choosing the Content That’s Right for the Job
Writing a great resume is much easier once you know the ins and outs of formatting. The next step is to choose the right content and present it in a clear and concise manner. If you are properly qualified for a job, a well-developed resume will get you an interview and hopefully the offer, while a poorly developed resume will send your resume on a quick trip to the recycling bin no matter how qualified you are.
Here are some tips to help you write a strong resume with the right content:
Before you start writing, you’ll need to gather two types of information: job information and personal information.
- Find as much information about the job and the employer as you can by reviewing the job post and the employer’s website.
- Ensure that you fully understand the job requirements and how your past skills, experience and education relate to them.
- Gain greater context about the organization by using LinkedIn or other job networks to gather information about key players, the hiring manager and the latest company news.
- Complete a concise list of the professional skills and marketable qualities that you have developed in your life. This includes your job history and the skills and responsibilities required for each job, along with any achievements.
- Get accurate dates and time periods for each of your past jobs. Avoid months if possible and just use years.
- Make a list of certifications, education history and academic achievements.
- Write down any personal attributes and strengths that are relevant to the position. Identify examples of instances where you demonstrated those attributes.
Selecting information for your resume
Once you’ve gathered your information, its time to assemble your resume. A standard professional resume includes the following items:
1. Contact Information
Your contact information should be placed in the header and include your full name, city, state/province, phone number(s) and e-mail address. You can also include your Skype or Instant Messaging name, as well as applicable social media profiles, such as LinkedIn.
2. Employment Goal or Job Objective
Try to relate your goal or job objective to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an International Elementary Teaching position your objective may read as, “A certified educational professional who is looking to expand his/her experience in international teaching and educational administration.”
Avoid vague statements like, “A position with growth potential,” or, “A challenging position with a stable company.” Remember to keep it simple, concise and professional.
3. Summary of Qualifications
A critical part of any resume, this section should include 5-10 bullet points that list the reasons why someone should hire you. Treat these skills as your major selling points to a potential hiring manager. You can summarize or give facts, but don’t give opinions about yourself. Things like technical skills, interpersonal skills, language skills, business and academic skills are good points to highlight. Hiring managers usually skim through resumes, so having your skills and abilities up front will put the rest of your resume into context.
4. Work Experience or Job History
Tell the employer about your work experience in one of two ways: by job titles listed chronologically, or by functions and skills. It’s Academic generally recommends a chronological outline beginning with your most recent positions. Try to avoid any gaps in your work history, and if there are gaps be prepared to explain them in an interview (ex. If you went to school between 2 jobs, ensure that your education section fills in that particular gap within your job history).
Always ensure that your educational history comes after your work history. You can list your degrees, certificates and achievements by date and have a short one or two sentence summary telling the employer about any job-related training or education. Typically it is recommended to use a chronological order for educational history. If you are a recent graduate with little work experience, you might want to build out your education section with more information such as the name of the school you attended, the degree or certificate received, dates, course titles related to your job goal, scholarships, honors, grades, and extracurricular activities.
If you have been working for over five years, you don’t need to give as much information about your education. It’s generally enough to list the name of the degree or certificate, the school, city, country, as well as associated dates.
Never include your high school or other grade school information if you have a higher degree.
6. Special Skills and Abilities
Use this section to share any other information about yourself that may give you an advantage. You might want to include any foreign languages you speak, volunteer activities, memberships in professional organizations, computer skills, machines you can operate, licenses or certificates you possess, or anything else that you felt was not important enough to feature at the top of your resume. Do not provide personal information such as your age, sex, marital status, or disabilities.
At the end of your resume simple state that “References are available upon request,” or, “References gladly furnished upon request.” Do not list references on your resume. Instead, have them typed in a separate document and ready if the employer asks for them.
You should have three to five professional references available. Ideally, they should be the supervisors of the most recent or most relevant jobs listed on your resume. Be sure to contact them first and make sure they will give you a positive reference.
International resumes have their own intricacies. Typically an international employer will request the following:
- A small passport sized photo in the upper right-hand corner of your resume.
- Personal information such as date of birth, dependents and nationality (this is required for accommodations and visa regulations such as spousal and dependent benefits).
Higher education resumes differ slightly from a standard resume in that they will often ask for a list of publications or other scholarly information. They may also ask for a standard resume and then follow up with you for additional information or documentation.