The job market is changing rapidly. We are in a global economy. New opportunities are opening up for women. The number of people working out of their homes continues to rise. As more and more companies look for proven skills in their new hires, the competition for good jobs is also increasing.
All these factors have changed the way we look at work and how we need to present ourselves in the job market. In the next few units, we will look at the concept of presenting yourself as a complete “package.” You will learn how to create both a resume that outlines your skills and a portfolio that demonstrates examples of your best work. Of course, the final piece of the package is your professional appearance at the interview, which we will discuss later.
Creating a resume and portfolio takes work, but before you begin, you will want to take an inventory of your skills and experiences. The resume worksheet you created earlier will help you with this process.
Now, in your guide, list your top five to ten skills.
Your top skills will become the focus of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. As you look over your list of skills, think about ways you can elaborate upon them. Keep the following tips in mind.
- You will want to use bold language including strong verbs and adjectives. Use verbs only one time. If you write “accomplished” many times, it isn’t interesting to the reader. Use a variety of language.
- Strong resumes are a collection of short, impactful sentences. Limit sentences to between 15 and 20 words. If sentences are too long, divide them into simpler ones. If they seem too short and plain, vary your format to combine sentences with bulleted lists.
- Use common words to communicate clearly and precisely. Avoid too-sophisticated vocabulary. For example, don’t use “myriad” when “many” will accomplish the same idea.
- Include measurements and achievements to enhance your achievements.
- Be truthful and minimize industry jargon. You might think you are using a standard language, but the resume screener many not understand your professional terminology. Explain yourself clearly to any potential reader.
- Eliminate pronouns (I, you, he, she, etc.) and articles (a – the) to keep statements fresh and reduce paper space. This style is more professional. That said, consider your intended audience when choosing your writing approach.
Now, rewrite your top five skills and use strong action words to describe your experiences that demonstrate those skills. You will find a list of action verbs in your guide.
When you search the internet for resume and portfolio information, you will probably also find information about branding. Branding is critical for large companies like Toyota and Apple and can also be beneficial to you. Branding means you present yourself as a professional “package.” Just as you recognize the Apple logo anywhere in the world, your experience should be immediately associated with you when someone scans your resume or portfolio.
Think about using specific resume formats for different roles. Your resume, cover letter, and references should all look like they came from the same source and they are unique to you. With some thought, you can create a polished format using Microsoft Word formatting.
You might try putting your portfolio in a binder with a window front. You can use the same window design for your cover page to create a rich, expert, and branded look. Your header should look identical on all documents. Your margins, borders, and bullet spacing should be the same as well.
If you use colour or logos, they must be identical on all your documents.
To keep your documents consistent, print all your documents on high-quality, white paper. Avoid using coloured paper or card stock.
Your resume can follow one of several formats, and there is no “right” way to design your resume. Your layout will depend on your specific needs.
The Time-Line format is chronologically ordered, with your most recent experience listed first. The template you worked on in your pre-assignment had you build information in chronological order.
Example 1 of the sample resumes in your guide uses the Time-Line format. Take a moment to review this resume style.
The “Practical” format, also called “Functional,” organizes information by skill and expertise. This approach is especially helpful when people are transferring their current skill set to a new or different field. This format also reduces the emphasis on dates or employers to highlight professional content.
For this format, use headings that highlight specific skill areas, like management, training, and sales.
Example 2 in your guide for a front-of-house supervisor who wants to transition to a training and development position uses this format.
Some resume experts may advise that you avoid the functional resume. They believe the hiring manager might assume you are hiding something like work gaps or job-hopping. This position is not really true. Use the style of resume that presents you in the most positive light possible.
A “Hybrid” resume format is also known as a “combination” resume format. These resumes use a combined format approach.
Example 3 in your guide uses this format. What do you think of this resume style?
Don’t be overwhelmed. Not everyone uses multiple resume formats. Some people have a diverse background and are qualified for several job types, and may require varied presentations. The only differences in their resumes might be their objective statement. For instance, a teacher may be qualified for classroom work and student counselling. A single resume may not be appropriate for both jobs, even though much of the experience information will be the same.
Many employers have candidates complete applications online. You probably will need to upload an electronic copy of your resume in Word or pdf format. Sometimes their website will only allow you to copy and paste the text of your resume. If that is the case, your beautifully crafted resume may lose some or all of its formatting. Some tips to consider:
- Paste only one font type – We recommend Times New Roman or Ariel
- Make sure line breaks and section spacing came through, and adjust if they didn’t
- If bullets disappear, place dashes in front of the bulleted text
Don’t be intimidated by online applications. A unique benefit is that the employer stores your information in their database for future job openings. This is an improvement over the past when you had to re-apply to the same company for new opportunities each time because they usually discarded candidate information. Be aware that when a company enters your information into their database, it may be there forever. If you apply for different jobs at the same company, make certain each submission is consistent and truthful. Follow all directions for submission closely.
A resume is your marketing tool. It explains to a potential employer your knowledge and capabilities. We recommend some guidelines to help you to produce a brilliant resume. For your resume, you must generate the content. If you are struggling with the presentation, there are some helpful hints to enable you to package it professionally.
A Word About Length
Your resume should not extend beyond two pages. There are exceptions, but your objective is to capture a hiring manager’s attention quickly. If your resume is longer than two pages, the manager may not read it at all. In fact, most recruiters and managers would prefer one-page resumes. If you can tell your compelling story in one page, seriously consider it.
There are exceptions. Academic and scientific resumes are often longer than two pages because they are actually portfolios. These resumes are known as Curriculum Vitae (CV). They include examples of published papers and research projects. You should only prepare a CV when an institution specifically requests it for a particular position.
A good practice is to review your resume and ask yourself if each statement helps potential employers learn something about you. If they don’t receive value from a particular statement, delete it.
Your resume should include contact information, a work objective, a skill summary, an outline of your work experience and accomplishments.
Your name spelling, address, phone number, and email address must be correct. Be mindful of the email address you use. Sometimes, people use very creative addresses. Use an email address in your contact information reads professionally. Fun and playful names may not be received well by potential employers.
It is an excellent practice to check your spam filter daily basis in case employer inquiries are routed there accidentally.
People tend to use objective statements ineffectively. Statements like, “Looking for an entry-level accounting position” are obvious and vague. Your objective should emphasize what you can bring to your next employer.
- A recent honors graduate who thrives in active environments and on challenging assignments seeks an entry-level accounting position.
- Recent graduate with a reputation for exceptional work and laser focus seeks entry-level accounting positions.
These statements also tell the employer that job seekers like and excel in a busy or challenging environment, or that they bring the excellent work ethic and ability to focus. This statement is more about the employer than the job seeker.
A skill summary is optional but excellent if you have done similar work in many different organizations. It should include at least one statement that describes an achievement, and it should support your employment goals.
In describing your work experience, highlight your most qualifying work achievements. Organize them in chronological order. Don’t waste space with unnecessary information like employer addresses.
Avoid information that might cause issues for you. For example, be discreet about the name of your current employer on job boards. In a global, online world, it is likely someone from your current workplace will come across your resume.
Remove any references to salaries, reasons for leaving your former position, and any comments about former bosses. Avoid availability dates as well.
Use job titles that make sense to a potential employer. Avoid industry jargon. If your job title does not describe the work you did, modify the language. For example, “WTC” means nothing outside of the company that invented the acronym, even though you know it means “Warehouse Technician in the Cairo office.” On your resume, state the position as “Warehouse Technician.”
As a rule, include no more than ten years of work history unless the previous experience is relevant. If you have not used a specialized skill in the past several years, it is possible you will need current refresher training before using it again.
Depending on your experiences and contributions, you may have a mixed amount to say about your accomplishments. You may want to list some achievements within your work experience sections, or you may choose to list them in a separate section.
Businesses have fairly limited interests. Most focus primarily on profit. Your accomplishments should demonstrate to potential employers your ability to make and save them money. If you keep that first in your mind, you will be able to select appropriate accomplishments to include. This concept doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include examples that don’t have numbers and dollars. It simply means you should quantify as many examples as possible.
If you recently graduated and don’t have much work experience, include your education information ahead of the work experience section. If your experience is extensive, your work experience section goes above this section. Your highest educational achievement is stated first in the list. Include courses and qualifications that you earned outside of school that pertains to the position, like commercial driver’s license, safety training, product workshops, and technical certificates.
List your most recent experiences first for each position. If you had more than one role with a company, list the most senior position first. Omit irrelevant tasks or job titles.
Emphasize accomplishments by using bold, italic, or underlining.
Include positive comments from supervisors, managers, or customers.
Include volunteer or community service work that enhances your profile. Exclude religious or political statements unless you are applying for a religion-based responsibility or political organization.
Do not include references on the resume. Instead, add a line that says, “References available upon request.”
Proofread your material very carefully and recruit others to do the same. Often, when we re-read the material we have written, our brain mistakes it as correct, even when it’s not. Even outstanding spellers find it difficult to see errors in their work. Software spellcheck functions are of value, but they don’t always recognize contextual mistakes, like using “there” when you should use “their.” Ask a friend with excellent spelling and grammar skills.
Before you send your resume to anyone, work through this list:
- Have you used short, easy to understand words instead of longer, complex ones that need to be looked up?
- Are your sentences no more than 15 to 20 words long?
- Are your paragraphs less than five lines?
- Do sentences start with action words that have power wherever possible?
- Have you replaced all the jargon you possibly could?
- Has someone proofread your document?
- Is there a balance of print and white space on the page?