Friday, February 22, 2008

Updated: Six resume writing tips worth remembering

A sharp and outstanding resume is key for anybody getting hired, no matter what the position. This point is just as true for somebody seeking their first job, or their twenty-first job. And, this is also true for anybody, not only students with disabilities.

Now, with all that said, I want to emphasize that it is imperative for students with disabilities to master this critical aspect of job hunting. To be considered qualified for a job, and to get invited to that all-important personal interview, where you can personally demonstrate your professional competence despite your disabilities, one must first present yourself with a strong impression on paper. If you can’t get this particular fine point down, it won’t matter how well prepared you are for the interview. If the employer isn’t impressed with your resume, then you won’t be called for the interview.

In my graduate-level class on professional practice, we explored resume writing as a quintessential tool for marketing and employment. Perhaps it was my specific school’s leaning, and things were different in the school of business, but we were taught to write a two-page resume and instructed that this was the preferred format.

I also learned of different styles through my own involvement in shared governance, when I was a student representative on various job search committees. In that role, I saw everything from the lengthy c.v. of academic professionals to the tidy, one-page business brief, as well as many of the two-page variety I had been schooled in. However, I always marveled at a sharply written, one-page resume that said what it needed to say without wasting my time.

This is all background, leading to the meat of today's post. At a recent professional development seminar, two successful, business consultants highlighted the value and importance of the one-page resume to the audience. In their explanations, they also reminded me of some important resume writing tips that any soon to be graduate would be wise to remember.

1. Put your greatest strengths in the top third of the resume.

This is what the reviewer will see first and will make the greatest impression on him/her. This means you need to get your strengths mentioned in your profile/objective and in your most recent job skills.

2. Keep the resume limited to one page.

One reviewer said that if somebody turns in a five-page resume, many reviewers would probably throw it aside or in the trash, because they don't have the time to read it. She said this is true of most hiring executives, their time is precious, so make the most of it.

3. Make sure you list your computer skills.

A good rule is to list that you are familiar with MS Office Suite, as it is the most common package for workload production. It includes Access, Excel, Powerpoint, and Word. You don't have to be great in all of the applications, but should have one or two definite areas of strength among the applications. Also, make sure that you are familiar in how to use each of the programs, even if you aren’t totally proficient in all of them.
Also, make sure that you list the computer programs which you use regularly and are familiar with.

4. Don't worry if you have some information or employer left off.

A statement at the bottom of your resume should read "additional information and references upon request."
If they are interested in you, they can ask for more. The key is to get them interested in you in this one page of information.

5. Write your resume specifically for the job you're applying for.

Do not use one resume for every job you apply for. Tailor the resume to the job you're applying for. Look at the job description and see what the posting says are the necessary skills needed to do the job. Then write the resume to highlight your experience and how it gives you these skills.

6. Don't forget to write something about personal information.

They want to know the person you are away from work, where your passions and interests lie. This should include, at a minimum, your interests and community involvement.

I've heard differing information about resume writing in my experience, but this was coming from seasoned professionals in the field, so I take it as golden advice.

Update 02/26/08

Note: People who are interested in this post might also want to read my previous posts about
A useful web Site for job seekers with disabilities,
Job interview tips for soon to be graduates.

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