Professional Resumes – Q&A
How can I get my resume on the Internet?
It’s a daunting task! The Internet includes nearly 100,000 employment sites. Most sites allow you to post your resume free of charge in various resume databases which are accessed by employers. The best way to find these sites is to use one of the search engines, such as Google.com, and search under keywords such as “Jobs,” “Careers,” “Employment,” and “Resumes.” These are the places to get professional resumes seen.
What’s the best layout for the resume?
We prefer the two-column resume: section headers run down the left side and detailed information for each section is included on the right. Avoid three-column resumes. The layout in professional resumes should be pleasing to the eye which means it incorporates lots of white space and avoids overcrowding. However, other attractive layouts include centered or left flush headings followed by subheadings and text. Always keep in mind that your reader has very limited time to read your resume. Try to make his or her reading task easy by offering a very eye-pleasing layout that helps the reader quickly read and retain the contents of your resume.
How wide a margin should I have top to bottom and either side?
The smallest margin should be one inch all around. Otherwise the resume begins looking very cramped because it lacks sufficient white space. Professional resumes should always follow this protocol.
What typeface seems to work best?
Stay with a standard typeface that is easy to read. The most readable are Times Roman, Bookman, and Arms BT, which is used in this book. Other popular typefaces are Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana. While less readable, these latter three have a modern look. Any of these typefaces should be used for scannable resumes. If you decide to vary typefaces, don’t use more than two different ones. If you use more than two, the resume may be irritating to read. Keep the type size between 10 to 14 point for the text and between 13 and 16 point for headings. Otherwise, the type size will be too small or too large to read. Use the same typeface and size throughout professional resumes.
What type of emphasizing techniques seem to work best?
Be careful not to create too much variation. Use two but no more than three emphasizing techniques. The most common ones are bold, CAPITALIZATION, italics, underlining, bullets (•), boxes (■), and asterisks (*). We prefer using bold and boxes. Do not use italics, underlining, shading, and graphics when writing a scannable resume. Using a resumebuilder can help you with this.
How should the categories be ordered?
It depends on your level of experience and the type of resume you select. If you have little or no direct work experience and your educational background appears to be your best qualification, put your education at the very top, just after your contact information and objective. If you have a great deal of experience, put your experience near the top. For most people using a chronological resume, the sequence of categories will be as follows:
- Contact Information 2. Professional Experience 3. Objective Education 4. Summary of Qualifications 5. Professional Affiliations
Combination and functional professional resumes will include other categories such as Work History. If you write a scannable resume, a Keyword Summary should replace the Objective and Summary of Qualifications. Selecting a Professional Resume Writer can help you select the right format.
Do I really need to include an objective on my resume?
We strongly recommend including an employer-centered objective. This objective becomes the central focus around which all other elements on the resume relate. It’s especially important to include an objective on your professional resume if you have little or no experience. Individuals with a great deal of experience can substitute a “Qualifications Summary,” “Career Profile,” “Core Competencies,” or “Summary/Achievements” for an “Objective.” This capsule section highlights, in bulleted form, four or five key skills and accomplishments that characterize the individual’s career. Ideally these sections should quickly summarize one’s predictable performance patterns. As such, they can nicely substitute for objectives. They tell an employer what you are likely to do for them. In this case, you can still include an objective on the resume, just before the “Qualifications Summary,” or include it in your cover letter.
What’s the best way to state an objective?
Your objective should be employer-centered rather than self-centered. It should communicate what it is you want to do for the employer rather than what you want from the employer. It should focus on performance and expected outcomes. Important to convey this in professional resumes.
Should I include a “Summary of Qualifications” section in addition to an objective?
Yes, it’s a good idea to capture the essence of your qualifications in three to five bulleted items immediately following the objective. This section essentially functions as a “Keyword Summary” for conventional resumes. It helps focus the reader’ attention around your key qualifications. It’s especially important to include this section since most resume readers spend no more than 30 seconds reading the complete resume. A “Summary of Qualifications” follows one of the most important resume writing principles: that you should always put the most important information first so it will get read and remembered first.
I only completed two-and-a-half years of college before flunking out. Should I be honest and admit that I wasn’t able to get my degree?
You should include the highest level of education attained which in this case is two and-a-half years of higher education professional resumes. Any higher education is better than none at all. Therefore, state your education in a positive way. The circumstances under which you left college without a degree should not be included on the resume. After all, you could have run out of money; received a job offer you couldn’t refuse; decided you had enough education and training for the type of career you wanted to pursue; or you’re still in the process of completing your degree. If the employer asks you during the interview why you did not complete college, be prepared to give a positive and honest answer. Until it’s addressed in the job interview, your education should be presented in the best possible light. This is neither the time nor place to confess your weaknesses or be “honest but stupid.”
Should I include my high school diploma under “Education”?
Only if it’s one of your most important qualifications. If you’ve just graduated from high school, include it on your resume. Most employers assume you have at least a high school diploma by the mere fact that you are literate enough to write a resume and letter. If you’ve earned a B.A., M.A., or Ph.D., leave your high school diploma off the resume. To include it when you have higher education degrees looks like you’re having great difficulty finding items to include on professional resumes. Check out professional resume tips.
How many jobs should I include on my resume?
It’s not necessary to include all of your jobs, especially if they are very dated and show little relationship to your current profession. The rule of thumb is to go back 10 to 15 years. Keep in mind that employers want to predict your future performance based upon knowledge of your past performance. Include those jobs that best communicate your predictable future performance – skills and achievements during the past 10 years. Include jobs you held 15 or 20 years ago only if they enhance your objective and show progressive career development. Still not sure, get professional resume help.
Avoid including jobs that appear irrelevant to your objective or may distract the reader from your qualifications. Try to always keep your reader “on message” by focusing on what you want them to most know about your qualifications. This means giving less attention to your history and more attention to your achievements. Remember, you want just the right mix of useful information to motivate the reader to invite you to a job interview.
I’ve had so many different jobs that I may look like a job-hopper who doesn’t know what she wants to do. How should I handle all these different jobs on my resume?
You sound like a good candidate for a combination or functional resume. A chronological resume will accentuate your frequent job changes. If you use the combination or functional resume format, you can summarize common skills and accomplishment that crosscut your different jobs. If you list work history, try to group two or three job together into a summary statement about your work experience. If, for example, you held four different jobs during a four-year period, and each involved some aspect of customer relations, group them together in this type of summary statement: “Customer Service: Maintained excellent customer relations in a variety of challenging work settings, from retail trade to telemarketing, 1996-2002.”
Should I put my most recent job first or last?
First, follow the principle of “reverse chronology” which conforms to our principle of putting the most important information first. Put your most recent job first ant continue in reverse chronological order over a 10-year period. See samples of professional resumes.