Q. I really need advice! I would like some feedback on my resume...does it represent me well?
A. Before you do anything recognize that YOU need to be involved in the writing of your resume. Resume writers and services can help, but you need to own your resume content, be proud of it, and know why each word has been included in a document you hope will represent your career and your potential value to a hiring organization. This material is the baseline for interview conversations so you need to be confident in everything as represented.
Many people will be happy to comment on your resume. Unfortunately most of them have no idea if they are really making it a better document or not. There are many books on resume writing, a number of online resources, and some no or low cost resources available to you who really have expertise to offer.
If you have a college or university career services office available to you, try to make an appointment for a resume review. If you have a choice, ask for a career counselor who specializes in resumes, and has worked with graduates with experience, not just new grads. Resumes for recent grads highlight different areas than those for people with experience. The Division of Employment and Training and the One Stop Career Centers also offer resume writing workshops.
Focus on content first. Content starts with an analysis of demand. Who is buying and what specifically is the buyer looking for? The content you highlight needs to be the most closely aligned with what companies need. To focus on your talent, use PAR or STAR as an effective way to deliver accomplishment statements. P or ST stands for Problem, or Situation/Task; A stands for Action you took to resolve the problem, and R stands for the result or outcome of your actions. Make your best effort to state your results in quantifiable or measurable terms.
You can double check the importance of these individual statements by asking? How did I add value to my group or company? How did I contribute to or participate in change? And what challenges did I face and resolve? Start with your current or more recent job, and dedicate the most resume space to that. Do the same going back to older jobs, with less resume real estate dedicated to those jobs.
After you see this content, you may find it easier to write an effective summary statement which starts your resume. Old school resumes had objectives. Today candidates and employers find a summary more beneficial as it can include a general description of skills and industry experience. This kind of introduction for your resume sets the tone, and also serves as your "30 second commercial" the quick description off all you have to offer, and what you are looking for in a role. The summary should include your marketable technical and functional skills, coupled with your marketable personal strengths.
Candidates with significant technical experience may list that in the next section of the resume showing the broadest experience, and highlighting levels of expertise in the most in demand areas.
Since your experience is what you are selling, your education follows that, in reverse chronological order. Graduate degrees, and undergraduate degrees. Prestigious private or specialty high schools can be included - otherwise skip it. High grade point averages and leadership roles can be included on no more than one line.
Review carefully and make sure your two page maximum resume has no typos, includes compelling content, and does not reduce the reader to boredom. Remember the resume is only step one. See how many of your networking contacts can forward it to people they know. That will get you closer to success!
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.