Tips for Writing Your Resume

Once you’ve picked a few jobs that look good to you, the next step is making yourself look good to them.

Resume Humor Ecard

Writing a resume is often one of the most intimidating steps in obtaining employment. The writer must be cautious to use good grammar, include key terms or phrases relevant to the job requirements and provide all information in a concise, coherent layout. These are common areas where applicants tend to trip up, seemingly inane details that feel far less important than your obvious skill and enthusiasm for the job. You want a resume that is professional – indicative of your own conduct in the workplace and eye-catching – why you’re different, and better, than the rest. Essentially your resume, from the colors to the text to the format, are a reflection of you. But understand that the first person to look over your resume will generally not be the hiring power, it will be someone else lower on the totem pole looking for any reason to discard it. This weeding out process varies from company to company but it’s an important aspect to keep in mind as it requires your resume to have both aesthetic appeal AND substance. So with these thoughts in mind, read over the following steps for some tips and industry secrets on how to write a great resume.

1. Choose a font and a format that are easy to read through without being forgettable.

Those individuals weeding out bad resumes are looking for any excuse to throws yours into the trash, they just have so many to wade through.

Things like cursive, tiny, or otherwise hard to read font make reading the resume more trouble than it’s worth. A 30th generation resume copy from Kinkos has blurred lines, poor paper quality and comes across as rushed and cheap. If you don’t value this job enough to produce a high quality resume copy, how much effort will you extend in the job if you actually get it?

Research templates online or through your word processor to find a clean, uncluttered layout with clear, sharp font to build your resume in. Remember, first impressions are everything, so limit your bullet points per job and use minimal color, it’s generally advised to abstain from graphics all together just to be safe.

2. If you choose to include an objective at the top, be specific.

“I am seeking a position with your company to make the world a better place, to grow as a human being and to put my skills to use for you.”

Well isn’t that lovely and . . . . pointless. By just applying for the job, the employer knows you want it and the paycheck that comes with it. In exchange for that paycheck the company expects to utilize your skill set pursuant with their goals. So a vague objective statement like the example above isn’t news to them, it’s not telling them anything they didn’t already know.

Be SPECIFIC. “My name is Jane and I’m looking to align my experience and education in dental hygiene with a dentist in Dallas, Texas that shares similar ideals for providing friendly, high quality care.”

An employer’s eyes will be drawn to “experience”, “education”, and “friend, high quality”. This is an objective that presents Jane as a qualified individual with people skills. Specifying her location implies Jane has reasons to stay local, reasons that may act as additional motivators for her to perform well and maintain her job over the long term.

3. Research what your employer is looking for.

Read through the job listing several times to pick up on key terms or phrases that your employed will undoubtedly be looking for. How can you relate your previous experience, education and training to align with the company’s goals?

You’ll want to keep your skill history from each previous employer concise and relevant to the position you’re pursuing. Consider reworking sentences, exchanging words and phrases to better match with the ideals your potential company listed in their ad. There’s bound to be lots of other applicants, they only want the best one.

4. Consider your resumes audience.

Imagine writing a resume for the most narcissistic, selfish individual you’ve ever met. That’s essentially who you’re aiming this information at, your potential employer doesn’t care about every job you’ve ever had or every “skill” you’ve acquired in your professional career. They only want the details of assets they can use, everything else reads as desperate filler.

For example: Jane was trained and licensed to drive a fork lift, reach truck and stock picker at her previous job. Now Jane is applying for a receptionist position at a telemarketing firm where these previous skills are irrelevant.Her potential boss at the telemarketing firm has no use for an employee trained to drive heavy equipment. Jane would be better suited to list her abilities gained indirectly from her previous experience. For instance, Jane works well in noisy, chaotic environments, (often translated to “Works well under stress”), Jane multi-tasks and thrives in fast-paced, challenging environments.

The point here is to work through seemingly unrelated past work experiences to discover and include the pertinent, applicable skills wrought from the old for use in the new.

5. Be clear, concise and unique.

Proceed with caution, and at your own risk.

Alright, you’ve made it through the worst of the process, deciding what to say, how to say, and where to put it. Now you’ve got to make it jump off the page, grab the reader by the collar and demand their attention – in a good way.

There are lots of little ways to gracefully stand out from the crowd without coming off as unprofessional or obnoxious. I once got a callback for a job, beating out hundreds of applicants, simply because I titled my resume email as “Pick me, I’m Perfect!!”.  Everyone else titled their emails with their name followed by the job description, or some variation thereof.

My favorite way to differentiate myself from the crowd is through humor. I justify this by telling myself that I don’t want to work anywhere or for anyone that doesn’t have a sense of humor. I am intelligent, educated, and hilariously clever. Why settle for one or two in an employee when you can have all three in me? I’ve included some example of resume humor (admittedly some extreme instances that I don’t recommend) that beautifully showcase what a sprinkling of quick wit and self-awareness can do.

This fifth step, the pursuit of the “it” factor and safe-for-work uniqueness has inherent risk. While virtually all other resume advice you come across will advocate for the safety of sameness and shades of gray (E.L. James has forever ruined that expression btw) in resumes, interviews,  and workplace conduct. 95% of the time it’s an accurate assumption and truly good advice, but as social media overtakes all areas of life, not simply our hours of leisure, the world – employers included – have every opportunity to see who you really are. For some of us this is scarier than others. My point though, is that who you *really* are shouldn’t be a bad thing, and finding little, (work appropriate) ways to express your true colors will make you more satisfied at the job and inspire lasting bonds with coworkers who will gravitate towards your authenticity.

Writing a resume is almost as much fun as staring at your phone waiting for it to ring then holding your breath for the person on the other end to say “I’m sorry to inform you . . .” or ideally, “Congratulations! . . .” But it doesn’t have to be impossible and I hope the few points I’ve detailed above will help to make the task even a little bit easier.

Remember that your goal is to articulately and convincingly persuade someone to give you money for doing work that hundreds of others are just as qualified to do. You’ve got to prove that you aren’t simply better than the rest, you are the best. I know it, you know it, your friends know it, so take a deep breathe, put finger tips to keyboard and get it in writing.

Resume Humor 1Resume Humor 2

Picking a job for more than the money

With debt and college loans at an all time high, the American public is struggling not to get ahead, but simply to break even. So it’s easy to disregard all other faucets of job provided it pays. In the short term, this method seems simple and effective enough. Show up, get paid. But under the surface, self sufficiency is much more complex than being competent and being present. I propose a few questions to ask yourself as you submit resumes, go for interviews and wait for call backs. Answer honestly and help yourself to find a job that offers more than just a paycheck.

1. What is important to you? Where do you get your fun fix?

Do you play videogames at home on the couch whenever you have a spare moment or do you participate in community sports league several nights a week? By knowing and acknowledging the things you do for fun, you make them a priority in your life – and that’s important. All work and no play makes everyone a dull soul. Consider the time, both length and frequency, that are required in a given week for you to achieve some degree of contentment and satisfaction with your life. Maybe it’s important for you to have a job with the flexibility to make 90% of your children’s extracurricular activities or perhaps you need Sundays off to attend your polka group, the only day of the week it meets.

Regardless of when or how you get your kicks in life, you’ve got to get them. It not only makes you a better person, but it makes you a better employee too. If you have something to look forward to, it makes putting in the required time to get there that much more bearable. If you do something fun and fulfilling every week, then those long days at work appear more manageable because you know your efforts will be rewarded beyond simply the financial means to do so.

Money means nothing if you haven’t the friends to spend it with nor the time to go out and spend it. To apply this logic to the job hunt, think in terms of compromise. Can you handle doing work you don’t necessarily love if it promises the time off to do the things you do love? Will you take a night or an evening shift if it means you’ll work an opposite schedule of everyone in your social group? Will you take a job that offers flexibility as it relates to your home life if it means you’re available by technology 7 days a week?

2. What about the future?

Such clichés like “Carpe Diem” and the cringe inducing “#yolo”, serve to remind us to live in the moment, seemingly good advice right? Except that as we age and acquire more responsibilities in the form of mortgages, healthcare and children, we tend to look ever increasingly toward the future. It follows naturally then, that when looking for a job we want one that will grow with us.

The longer you work the more skill you learn and the finer you hone them, making you a more valuable commodity every year spent on the job. It makes sense to find an employer who will recognize and reward your commitment and growing skill. As you job hunt consider employers who offer retirement packages, programs that pay back student loans, or exceptional insurance or savings plans. These are all perks that when combined with your salary go a long ways towards securing your future and personal peace of mind.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Finding a great job is all about finding a good fit between what the employer can offer you and what you can offer your employer. Are you eternally enthusiastic? You’d be great in sales and marketing. Are you bored easily? Make sure you find a job that offers daily variety in the tasks you’re asked to complete. Do you struggle to play well with others? Look for positions that afford you the opportunity to complete your work in a quiet, solitary setting – maybe work at home options!

Don’t be afraid to be honest with your employer. Be confident of your strengths and aware of your weaknesses. When you acknowledge a skill deficiency make sure you express an openness and an enthusiasm to grow it into a strength. No one is perfect, despite what a resume or a facebook page might lead you to believe. Admitting you are human, albeit a dependable, trustworthy, problem solver, shows a willingness to grow, to learn, and aspire to highest levels of productivity.

These are all questions to consider when skimming the want ads for a job. It’s not just about what you can offer them, but what they can offer you too. A happy person is a productive person, a good life at home will translate to a good performance at work.