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October 15, 2007

7 Tips For The Perfect Resume

By Jennifer Towers

Whether you’re a first-time applicant to the workplace or recently decided to tell your boss to stick it where the sun don’t shine, an up-to-date, perfect resume should always be part of your professional arsenal.

But building the perfect resume is not always as easy as it may seem. Too many women tack way too much irrelevant information on what could otherwise be a welcome sight to employers.

If you want to ensure that the perfect resume you hand a potential employer stays in his hands and doesn’t end up in the trash, here’s what it takes to increase your chances of getting that highly anticipated phone call for an interview.

Perfect resume tip #1
Cover letter
You have about 30 seconds to capture an employer’s attention and while something original like a joke may keep him reading, it may not do so for the right reasons.

Your cover letter should be short and to the point (under a page). It should include:

· Your name
· Your address
· The date
· The employer’s name and address (Do not use generic salutations like “To whom it may concern”)
· The position you’re applying for
· How you heard about it
· Why you’re qualified and how you can contribute to the organization
· What you expect to get out of sending this information (an interview)
· What follow-up action you will take
· Appreciation for their time

Keep paragraphs short, provide bullet points, if applicable, and don’t state the obvious. Focus on the employer’s needs and try to steer clear of starting all your sentences with “I.” As well, don’t recap your entire resume.

If you’re sending your cover letter and resume via snail mail, make sure to use high-end white paper. If you’re sending it via email, make sure to make it part of your resume pages so that it all flows together.

Perfect resume tip #2
Clear & concise information

The information your perfect resume contains will include:

· Contact information
· Objective
· Education
· Experience
· Skills

Let’s start from the top. Your contact information should include one phone number, one email address and your home address. You don’t need to list all your contact information because no one wants to feel compelled to call seven different phone numbers to reach you.

What you can do is list the number that has an answering machine or the one you use most frequently, that way, you’re sure to answer or get the message.

Your objective should be no longer than a sentence or two, and should be pertinent to the job you’re applying for. As well, don’t write a “one size fits all” sentence because it only demonstrates that you’re not trying to impress the person that’s looking it over.

For example, if you were applying for a management position, you would write something along the lines of, “Seeking a management position in which over 6 years of experience will add value to operations.”

When listing your education, the only time you would list your high school is when that is the highest level of education you have reached. Otherwise, there’s no need to tell anyone what high school you attended.

What they want to know is what you received your degree in. List your college or university education, your degree, and whether or not it came with any accolades. And unless you’re applying for a technical position, your GPA should not be included in your resume.

I have experience working as a hostess, a waitress and even an envelope stuffer, but I wouldn’t list those things on my resume unless they were the only experiences I had or if those were the jobs I was applying for currently.

When listing your experience, try to keep it relevant to the job you’re applying for, and this includes seminars and workshops you’ve attended.

If you are skilled at C++, but didn’t use it in your last job, list it in the skills section of your resume. From computer languages to languages spoken, these skills can make the difference between a phone call and the shredder.

Do not, however, list “Outlook Express” or “Internet” as part of your skills set. It’s a given that anyone using a computer has these skills, so they’re not unique.

Perfect resume tip #3
Neat page
Organize the page so that anyone looking at it could easily find what they’re looking for. Keep the fonts simple and neat, and don’t go crazy with colors. The only time you should opt for a variety of colors is when you want to draw the reader’s attention to something specific.

Perfect resume tip #4
Pertinent information

If you had to sift through hundreds of resumes, how much time would you give to one that was four pages long? That’s right. No one wants to spend 10 minutes on anything if they don’t have to.

Keep any personal information, such as hobbies and interests, out of the resume unless they have a direct impact on the job at hand.

Perfect resume tip #5
Proofread it

If there’s one reason above all others why an employer would dismiss you, it’s due to bad grammar and spelling.

This is the first impression you’re making on a potential employer and not looking over your resume with a fine-tooth comb tells them that if you make such blatant mistakes on your resume, chances are you’ll make many more on the job.

Perfect resume tip #6
Customize it for each employer
Although life would be a whole lot easier if you could just print up 20 resumes and send them off to a bunch of employers, the reality is that a generic resume is very easy to spot. And very easy to reject.

You need to customize your resume for each job you apply for and let the reader know that you wrote this resume just for them.

Perfect resume tip #7
Follow directions

When it comes time to send out your resume and cover letter, it’s incredibly important that you follow direction to the tee, otherwise an employer who has to spend all their time sifting through them will dismiss you.

Pay attention to the directions; if you’re told to send it via email with the subject header “Freelance Writer from Craigslist,” then that’s what you need to do.

As well, it’s important that you submit any additional requests, such as sample works, without making any excuses.

Perfect resume & cover letter

Now that you know what it will take to get your foot in the professional door, get to work on your cover letter and resume, and before you know it, you’ll be looking over other people’s resumes in no time.

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