11 November 2012
Résumés Done Right: Stand Out From the Crowd

Looking for a job? Looking to move up the ladder? A well-crafted résumé can be your key to success, creating an accurate picture of your educational and employment history and accomplishments.

Few people are hired based on a résumé alone. Instead, that written picture of your professional achievements is designed to get your foot in the door – an interview where you have the opportunity to demonstrate just how valuable you’ll be as the latest hire for a business looking for a new employee with specialized skills and experience.

Parts of a Résumé

Résumés are usually formatted based on certain conventions and established business practices.

At the top of the page, provide all of your contact information.

Next, describe your Employment Objective; for example, “Seeking long-term position as an out-of-office sales representative within the insurance industry.”

The next section, typically, is your Employment History. This is a list of previous employers, your job titles and brief descriptions of your workplace duties and accomplishments.

Your Education History includes where you went to school, what your course of study included, and any degrees, licenses, certifications and other educational achievements attained.  If your school days are well behind you, the Education History section may be shorter and include only your most advanced training history and your most prestigious achievements.

Finally, create a Skills section that includes specialized abilities and expertise acquired either from work or school experience.

Learn All You Can About the Employer

Before you start the creation of a solid résumé, learn all you can about the job and the employer.  Many businesses have websites. Conduct a search of the prospective employer’s website to determine what products the company makes, what services it delivers, its corporate culture and other information that may be useful in crafting a targeted résumé for each employer you contact.

Read and re-read the complete job description for the position you’re after. If you know the employer and what the business is looking for in its next hire, it will be easier to design your résumé to describe how you’d fit into the employer’s business model.

Tailor Your Résumé to the Job

We live in a time of specialization and, whether you’re a recent graduate or a long-time, experienced employee, you’ve developed a variety of skills – your skill set.  Develop several résumés to target specific job openings.

For example, if you’re applying for a bookkeeping job, focus on the accounting skills you’ve acquired over the years.  If you’re seeking a managerial position, don’t highlight your bookkeeping experience. Instead, shine the spotlight on your ability to manage others. Sure, you’ve handled bookkeeping and management duties, but determine what’s most important to the employer based on the job description, and focus on the skills and experience gained in that particular area.

Why You Should Hire Me

While a résumé is a snapshot of the professional you, don’t focus solely on your expertise.  As you conduct research on a prospective employer, try to determine what kind of personality traits the company is looking for.

An employer advertising a job for a “go-getter” probably wants a motivated, inspired individual. An employer who mentions “team player” in a job description is most likely looking for an individual who works well with others, takes direction and bolsters the team’s activities within the department or within the enterprise.  If the job description mentions “work independently,” include in the Employment History section the various ways you’ve demonstrated the ability to work without oversight.

What NOT to Mention

The quickest way to have your résumé end up at the bottom of the pile is to mention salary requirements. Leave that discussion for a later time.  You can also leave out things like marital status, family history, religion, leisure activities and other information that’s irrelevant to the performance of the job as it’s laid out in the job description.

You can certainly mention volunteer activities to more clearly define your character, but the fact that you play tennis or enjoy fishing probably won’t get you the interview you’re after.

Create a More Complete Picture of You

When applying for a job, flesh out the picture created in your résumé with a cover letter that describes how your experience and skill set will benefit the employer. Again, focus on the needs of the employer and how you can meet those needs.

The cover letter that accompanies your résumé should be short and absolutely letter perfect. A typo, a misspelling, poor grammar and other flaws are signs of carelessness and a lack of professionalism.  Check and re-check your cover letter, and have someone else review it as well.  If you have a variety of skills, create several different cover letters customized for each job you seek.

A well-designed, professional employment package that includes a targeted résumé and cover letter, and copies of licenses and certifications, says a great deal about the way you work and the way you present yourself to others.  It may be the best way to get your foot in the door for a job interview where you can really show your stuff.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.

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