Resume Tips

Many people would love to get a better job, especially one here in the warmer climate of the Caribbean. And many of these same people have the proper training and skills to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, so many job hunters do not maximise their chances of success. They are unable to clearly tell potential employers about their job qualifications. In many cases, this prevents them from getting a high paying job that they could easily do in the location of their dreams. Often, the job will go to someone who is less skilled but who has written an eye-catching resume.
Some job seekers have a few mistaken opinions about potential employers. They believe that employers are able to easily separate the qualified job applicants from the less qualified applicants. But this is not likely to be true. Sometimes there are from 30 to 300 resumes for the same job. So the interviewer first does a fast screening of all the resumes to eliminate as many as possible. The "good" resumes usually make it through the screening process. A poor resume could mean the best candidate for the job is screened out at this stage.

Many people are looking towards the Caribbean for the next challenge in their career. Due to the popularity of the islands, there are often many qualified applicants applying for the same job. What if, out of all of those who apply, one job seeker turns in a skillful resume? Who do you think stands the best chance of getting the job? It's the one with the "best" resume, of course. This is so often true even though some of the other applicants may be better qualified for the job.

In order to get a good job you must communicate to the employer that you are ready, willing, and able to do the job. So if you are capable of producing a top notch job resume, you definitely increase your chances of getting a better job. Virtually every potential employer will want to see a resume from you. Your resume is a mini-statement about yourself. After reading your resume the employer should have a better "feel" for you as a person and as a potential employee.

The resume along with the Cover Letter is the opener, the first step, your introduction to any employer. First impressions really do count. If you make a poor first impression, you'll never get to step two - the job interview. The purpose of your resume is to make a good first impression. In effect, your resume should tell the employer that you have good abilities and are truly interested in working.

The Team here at JobintheSun Incorporated have worked on getting a system for Job Seekers so that they can have an interface to amend and update their resume. Our Job Match System allows you to upload your resume, (copy and paste from your text document). This is an additional tool which will allow thousands of employers who log on to the site the ability to view your details and search for potential candidates by various criteria. However, you must always remember that your Job - Hunting strategy should be a multi-pronged attack..... The JMS is just one tool. Always have the best "physical" resume possible to hand.......

The following sections are laid out to help you through the maze of "Resume Writing" and help you to get that Job In The Sun.......

Writing your resume requires a lot of effort and planning on your behalf. A badly worded and poorly presented resume can put off a potential employer totally!

At the outset, it is necessary to clarify that you could use the term "resume" or "curriculum vitae" (CV), even though technically a CV is primarily meant for job positions within the academic environment and is supposed to be a lengthy document. The difference is not strictly followed and it is safe to use these two terms interchangeably.

A resume is supposed to be a brief presentation of your skills, work experience, achievements and education. Anything too long runs the risk of being skimmed over and not read properly. Long and detailed does not necessarily imply better!

The length of your resume is important. Resumes should be from 1 to 3 pages long. Don't be tempted to make your resume longer than 3 pages, even if you have a lot to tell. Remember, a resume is supposed to be a summary. A resume that is too long simply will bore the reader. There will be so much material that nothing will stand out and be remembered. The word resume comes from the French word "resumer" which means to summarise. So the exact purpose of a resume is to summarise your experience, knowledge, and accomplishments. Therefore, you must avoid being too wordy. Say exactly what you mean in the least number of words possible.

All good resumes follow the same general basic guidelines. While there is some flexibility in these guidelines, you don't want to stray too far from them. You want a resume that is bold, exciting, and enticing. But not too much so. You also want a resume that is somewhat conservative. In other words, it must be bold. Not flashy. You must show that you have confidence in your abilities, but not sound like a braggart. You must sound eager to do the job, but not desperate. So there is a fine line that you must walk in order to produce the best possible resume.

You want to use intelligent language. However, you don't want to try and impress the employer with long, flowery, or uncommon words or phrases. Use everyday language whenever possible. Of course, if you are applying for a highly technical position, it's acceptable to use some of the special terms used in that particular profession. But as a rule you should keep it simple and straight to the point.

The overall appearance of your resume is also important. A sloppy looking resume will greatly lessen your chance of getting a job interview. The first thing that an employer, or personnel manager, evaluating your resume will notice is it's appearance. There are several different things that can be done easily to increase the overall appearance of your resume.

You could use a better grade of paper. Go to a local office supply store and examine the different types of writing paper. You'll notice some big differences. Pick out a nice looking, more expensive grade of paper for your resume.

The next thing to consider is the quality of the material that is typed onto the resume. Never use a low quality printer to print your resume. Always use a Laser printer where possible. It's very important that you make sure the writing on your resume looks good. This means clean, crisp, and sharp looking letters. If you are going to produce many resumes, ensure you get the copies done professionally, using a high-end copying machine.

A third aspect of your resume's appearance is more subjective. It takes into account such things as the letter spacing, how each section is arranged, and it's overall appearance. Some resumes simply look better because of the way they have been designed.

Never overcrowd the resume. Leave some "white space" so that important points can appear to pop out. Never submit a resume with handwritten corrections. You can highlight sections of a resume by using a different typeface or size or by using "bullets." If possible, use larger letters for the headings used in the separate sections of the resume.

Never try to be too fancy by using wild colours, cute graphics, and so forth. Don't be overly creative. A simple, straightforward, factual resume will do nicely. Make it stand out, but stay conservative.

Another phase of your resume's appearance is it's accuracy. Make sure there are no misspelled words! Mistakes will create the wrong image.

Make sure that the punctuation is correct. And make sure that all of your columns line up. See that all of your facts are correct. Don't say you attended 3 years of college, but only show two years worth of grades. Potential employers will note all inaccuracies and wonder why they appear in your resume.

There are several styles of resumes along with numerous variations. Your experience and the kind of job you are applying for will help to determine the style of resume you use. The two basic styles are: Chronological Resumes and Functional Skills Resumes. Some of the variations include the main themes of business, academic, general, student, standard, professional, or engineering.

Chronological

A Chronological Resume lists employment and employment-related experiences in reverse chronological order (the most recent experience first). It includes some descriptive text about each position, usually described in about one paragraph. This type of resume offers several advantages: it is widely accepted, they are easy to read, and they show a clear pattern of your development. The disadvantages include: it does not highlight your major accomplishment(s), nor do they effectively show your other skills.

The chronological resume is a good format for those with a consistent employment history, no gaps in employment, and whose past employment experiences are related to their current employment goals. It effectively showcases a steady work record with increasing upward responsibilities. This may not be the best for new graduates, individuals with job gaps, or persons changing careers.

Functional

The functional resume highlights skills, experiences, and accomplishments without identifying specific dates, names, and places. This format is organised by functions or skills, which advertise the specific qualifications needed for an occupation. This resume works well for people changing careers. It is also effective for those re-entering the workforce, first-time job seekers, and when highlighting experiences that occurred in the distant past. There is no chronological listing of employment. Consequently, some employers do not like this format because they suspect that the person may be trying to hide something.

Functional Skills Resumes highlight your skills and accomplishments rather than providing a chronological record of your job history. Your accomplishments and skills are listed at the beginning. Your job history is listed at the end of the resume. This type of resume allows you to call attention to your achievements. The major disadvantage is that employers may find it difficult to follow your work experience.

Combination

Many people discover that a combination of these two kinds of resumes is the best way to go. You may want to try several different types of combinations before settling upon a final design. The combination resume brings together the best of both the chronological and functional resumes. It features a functional section that highlights skills, accomplishments, and experiences. It also includes a chronological listing of employment, education, and employment-related experiences. This is a very effective format for many job seekers. The best chronological resume is enhanced with a section highlighting skills, accomplishments, and experiences. The best functional resume is strengthened with a chronological listing of employment experiences.

Other Variants

(i) Keyword
The keyword resume is a variation that adds a listing of skills to the beginning of any standard resume format. Placing critical occupational skills as keywords at the beginning adds impact to the resume and helps capture the reader’s attention. This variation is effective for all career fields and levels of skill. It is a very effective strategy for creating scannable resumes.

(ii) Targeted

More of a strategy than a style, the targeted resume directs skills and experience to the specific needs of an employer.

Some specific topics that your resume should cover are:

(1) Job Objective -- lets the employer know that you are interested in a specific type of work. This can be done in 2 or 3 sentences. The job objective is an excellent area to include in your resume and is usually omitted. It puts your resume in the right perspective for the reader and clearly shows where you are headed in your career plans.

(2) Summary of Qualifications -- is a short paragraph that summarises your experience and skills. Generally employers will spend less than 10 seconds screening your resume the first time. Their goal is to eliminate as many candidates as possible and concentrate on the best. Therefore, highlighting your qualifications early in the resume is an effective way to improve your chances for consideration.

(3) Professional Skills -- here you should give specific details about your unique abilities. In this section, the skills that you present should help in answering the question -"How can you contribute to the organisation?"

(4) Work Experience -- in this section you give a one paragraph summary for each of your previous jobs. This should include starting and ending date, reason for leaving, job title and duties, and any special accomplishments for each of the jobs.

(5) Education -- gives a summary of all schools attended, degrees earned, and special seminars or training courses that you have attended.

(6) Honors and Awards -- it's a good idea to list any special awards you have received.

(7) Personal -- information about your hobbies and activities should be included.

(8) Other -- professional organisations that you belong to, computer or programming skills, articles or books published. List only those activities that relate to your occupational goal and show skill or experience. It is best not to mention specific religious or political organisations unless they directly relate to your goal. Military experience may be listed as a separate section or in the employer's "language" as part of the work history.

(9) References -- you can state something like, "references available upon request". References do not belong on the resume. If you want to add them, they should be listed on a separate sheet. However it is suggested to only send the references with the resume when specifically requested by the employer.

Optional Data

There is a variety of personal data that may be somewhat controversial if included in your resume. In the past it was acceptable to include all kinds of personal data, but times and laws have changed. Affirmative Action laws have made it illegal to discriminate based on such things as age, sex, marital status, race, religion, and so forth. Therefore, most experts recommend against placing this kind of personal data into your resume.

Your salary requirements should not be listed in the resume, if you can avoid it. The reason is that if you put too low of a salary, you might be paid less than the real value of the job. If you put down a figure that's too high, you may not get considered for the job. If an employer likes you, it may be possible to negotiate a higher salary during the interview stage.

  • Use language and content that communicates a proactive style. The style of writing that you use and the particular words or phrases can make a significant difference to your resume. It affects the impression created about you regarding your past work experience and your skills.

  • Leave aside the job objective and summary and that gives you just one and a half pages to cover the details of your work experience as well as your educational qualifications. You need to prioritise. Decide what importance to give to different organisations/positions. You should not skip any place worked at, but you obviously cannot give all details of each position.

  • Within an organisation, present your career path in the correct chronological order. While you may present the organisation you have worked in, in reverse chronological order, for a particular organisation it is easier to follow your career path if the positions are given in the way they happened e.g. " I joined company ABC as a Management Trainee in 1989 and was promoted to Assistant Finance Manager in 1991.....". You could then go on to elaborate your responsibilities and achievements at this position. Remember to highlight the more important designations with their accomplishments, as this will be more relevant than just focusing on your training period.

  • Mention responsibilities briefly, focus more on accomplishments. If responsibilities are similar across positions in an organisation, try to avoid repeating the same set of responsibilities with each position. That will unnecessarily increase the size of your resume without giving any additional value. Instead, try and include your different achievements at each position, or something that you introduced or did differently in your job. This would also hold true for situations where responsibilities are similar across organisation.

  • If you have worked in many organisations, merge information to reduce chronological details. To avoid presenting a long, chronological detail of each organisation worked in, try and merge information on similar positions/responsibilities across organisation into one category. This will be easier to read and will also avoid presenting a negative image of you being a job-hopper.

  • If changing your area of specialisation, classify the information by function. If you are changing your field from finance to marketing, then instead of just presenting the details of your past work experience in reverse chronological order by organisation, you could classify the information into different functional areas e.g. your responsibilities and achievements in finance (even if across companies); similarly for marketing.

  • Include other information only if significant. You may like to mention your hobbies, interests or extracurricular activities, under a separate heading, but it will really not add value to your resume unless you have made a significant achievement there.

  • Present educational qualifications with the most recent one first. When giving information on your educational qualifications in a separate section, it is advisable to begin by presenting the most recent degree/diploma achieved, as this is usually relevant to the work you are currently doing. For example, if you have acquired a postgraduate degree in management, give that information at the outset.

  • There is no need to go as far back as schooling, unless you are a fresh graduate with no work experience. Remember, the resume is just 2 pages and you need to give better reasons for being recruited than the school you studied in!

  • If you have acquired a degree in some other country, mention a degree that it is equivalent to which is internationally recognised, to put it in the right perspective for the reader.

  • Avoid tables while presenting details of educational qualifications because they occupy more space and interfere with the smooth flow of sentences and points.

  • Provide information on training if it is at least 3 months or more. Short term one week courses do not really look good on your resume unless you do not have enough to say in 2 pages!

  • For a candidate applying for an entry level position in an organisation, the educational qualifications will be more important as there is no significant work experience other than training. This section should therefore, come before work experience, in your resume.

  • Though it is useful to have names and contact numbers of people to give as references, it makes sense to provide them only on request. You should not give the details on your resume but provide the information later on, when asked for, or further on in the selection process. The reason for this is that at the outset you do not know how long your resume will be with a company before you get an interview call. By then the persons you mentioned as references may have moved or their contact numbers could have changed. Also you can tailor your list of references based on the company you are applying to. So there is no need to provide the same information to all the places you send your resume to. It is also a good idea to inform your references that you have given their names before they receive a call out of the blue. This way when the employers who have included you in the short-list for recruitment, contact your referees to check you out, there are no hitches or surprises.

  • It's important to include all of the basic information on your resume. But, what is also important, is the way you say it. Don't use dull, lifeless statements. Instead use action words. Here are some typical action words:

    Accelerated, achieved, advised, approved, assisted, built, calculated, completed, conceived, controlled, coordinated, created, decreased, defined, designed, developed, directed, earned, edited, engineered, evaluated, found, generated, implemented, improved, invented, managed, operated, organised, planned, proved, revised, scheduled, tested, trained, verified, wrote.

    These words give the correct impression that you have been responsible for different types of tasks.

    In other words, you weren't just a follower. Of course, you should always be truthful. Don't try to oversell yourself by claiming you did things that you didn't do.

  • It is also advisable to have a friend or colleague read your resume and point out any problems before sending it forward to a potential employer.

In today’s job market, the resume is an important tool for anyone looking for work. Everyone, from the new entrant into the workforce to the experienced professional, benefits from a well-written resume. Many employers require a resume be sent as the first method of contact. A resume captures an employer’s attention, even when no job is advertised. Just as a job search is a sales campaign, your resume is your sales brochure. More than a summary of your skills, experience, and education, it is an advertisement of your best. Your resume should make you stand out from the competition.

Take the time to organise your job search information, including education and employment. Focus on your skills and accomplishments and look for ways to sell your qualifications. A prospective employer does not just want to know where you worked, but also wants to know what you can do.

Try and follow these guidelines and you will be surprised at the improvements you can make to your resume! ......and soon enough it hopefully will be turning itself into an air-ticket to paradise !!!

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