In order to have an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager with an interview, your resume must sell you first. Your resume needs to catch their attention and show them that you have experience and expertise relevant to this position.
Summarizing Your Professional Experience – This is a critical section of your resume. Always list your most recent position first. If you have had multiple positions within the same company, show the overall dates for employment and then dates for each specific position with the most recent first. If the company is not well known, include a brief, one-line description of the company to provide context. Bullet points should focus on your accomplishments in each position. Why was the company better off by having you in that position at that time? Do not list your job responsibilities. When possible, quantify your accomplishments with the impact on the company – increased sales by 20%, reduced turnover 10%, identified cost savings of more than $50,000. You should focus on the accomplishments that would be most relevant to the employer, not necessarily what you enjoyed the most.
If you are early in your career and your professional experience is limited, be sure to include summer jobs, part-time employments, internships and even volunteer work. Identify accomplishments in each role.
Focus on Action – Every bullet point under your professional experience should start with an action verb. If it is a current position, use current tense. For all prior positions, use past tense. Action verbs include words such as managed, implemented, designed, reduced, prepared, and many more. Avoid passive phrases such as “responsible for” in your bullet points.
Academic Experience – The employer also wants to see your academic qualifications. If your degree is recent and relevant you can choose to list it prior to your work experience but for most resumes it should follow the professional experience section. List the school you attended, the dates you attended and the degree you earned with your major noted. If you graduated with an honors status such as “summa cum laude” you can note that as well. While you should never list all your specific courses, if you are a recent graduate with limited experience you may choose to highlight a few, relevant classes. If you were a leader of a student group of were actively involved in campus activities, it is great to include that on your resume but it should be listed separately under activities. The only time you would ever include high school on your resume would be if you did not have a college degree.
The professional experience and academic sections of your resume are important and deserve careful attention to detail in your preparation. Ask someone else to proofread it for you to ensure that it is clear. Avoid company jargon or acronyms. With these sections complete you are well on your way to a successful resume.
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