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How to Build a Resume That Will Boost Your Career Prospects

Resume & Interview December 7, 2012

A professionally devised resume is undoubtedly imperative whether you are planning to earn a degree, to apply for a college job or to start your working career. In this article, we will show you how to build your resume, so it will improve your career prospects.

Content is Paramount

The first trap to avoid is the temptation of padding up your resume because you think it looks incomplete. This is a trap many students fall into because they fear that their resume is not sufficiently impressive owing to their lack of work experience. In the process of filling up the empty spaces in your resume, you could easily resort to half-truths or lies, and that is a sure-fire way to ensure that recruiters ignore you. To ensure that your resume demonstrates your abilities to perform well in the job, make sure it includes contents listed below:

Appropriate Heading

Make sure your resume has an appropriate heading at the top. The heading must include your name, followed by your postal address, telephone numbers (mobile and landline), and email address. You should mention the URL of any professional website owned by you, while first ensuring that the website content is safe for work.

Educational Qualifications

Make sure you mention about the college degree programs you have completed apart from any professional certification programs you have attended. You can briefly mention about thesis project you have been involved with. If you are in the process of earning a degree, you can indicate the expected date of completion, in the following style: Bachelor of Science, Expected June 2013.

Career Objective

A cover letter accompanying your resume is preferable and should include a career objective within the resume. At times, recruiters may ask job applicants not to abstain from submitting a cover letter; in such cases, you should include a sentence or two describing the basic career goals you are seeking to fulfill.

Selective Description of Experience

The word ‘selective’ used above is essential to building a resume that is focused on getting the current position you are applying for. Only indicate any work experience that is relevant to the job at hand. For instance, if you have worked as an editor or teacher and you are applying for a job with a newspaper company, mention only the editing experience because it will have a direct impact on your qualification for the job you are applying to. Under this sub-heading, indicate any professional experiences including voluntary assignments, internships and jobs you have done in the past that are relevant to the position. Describe them as briefly as you can and only highlight related job functions.

Skills Set

You can point out any professional skills that are important to the position, but that are not distinct from the descriptions of your academic qualification or your work experience. These should include creative skills, as well as skills relating to adeptness relating to speaking a foreign language or using a computer (this is particularly important if the job requires use of computer software of any kind). While listing the skills, it would be useful to read through the requirements of the job as advertised by the recruiter. Try to match your skills to such requirements, using similar words where possible.

Awards Won

While this is incidental information, it can help fill up your resume. It will serve to underscore noteworthy accomplishments including academic ability that can help illustrate hard work and commitment.

Other Activities & Interests

This is an optional section you can use to fill empty spaces in your resume; however, you can use this information to demonstrate communication and leadership among other intangible skills. If you insist on mentioning any clubs or organizations that you are a member of, make sure you only include those that are relevant to the job, or those that may help underscore leadership skills, such as student government.

Style

Having impressive and engaging content is crucial in any resume, but the style is more powerful than you think. Your resume must stand out from others, if you want recruiters to select your resume out of a pile of hundreds of resumes; they usually choose the ones that look the best before reading a single word. There are several styles of resume writing and you can ask the career services office at your school to show you some samples to choose from. You could search it via Google by using search words, “sample resumes”. Whatever style you choose, there are a few basics you should not forget like keeping your resume short; in fact, limit it to no more than one side of a page. If you are crafting a curriculum vitae and a cover letter, you can afford to do a more detailed job, but a resume is most effective when it is short and relevant. A simple and elegant font will make it easier for recruiters to read and scan your resume; fonts such as Times New Roman, and avoid any text that could distract the reader. A black font on a white sheet is the most effective, avoid colored fonts. Do not include a photo unless you are applying for a job as an actor or a model. Even in such cases, a portfolio — not your resume — is the best place for photos. Heavy stock paper of high quality will suffice to make a good impression, if that is what you seek. Use a consistent style with particular reference to indenting of lines and headings’ size.

Additional Points to Note

Make sure you proofread your resume over and over again. If there are grammar or spelling errors, your resume will probably end up in a wastepaper basket. Such errors point to carelessness and lack of attention. Customize every resume and rework your resume every time you apply for a job. In other words, do not send the same resume to every employer. You will need to customize according to specific job requirements, with particular attention paid to the relevance of skills and experience. It makes sense to have a master resume with all of your details in it and amending the master document to make a specific resume while applying for a specific job.

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