If you argued with me about what a perfect resume would be you would probably win, since there isn’t technically a structure for a perfect resume, I have found that some key items should always be included to give a well-rounded image of what you bring to the table. Also, the fact is its 2013 and people want to see more then the black and white. Modern resume’s should include a lot more then just your standard experiences and job related items. The resume has evolved a great deal recently and you can tell just from the various degree offerings and career starts. Individuals in art and graphic design have a totally different resume structure then individuals in finance and accounting. Someone looking for a job with experience in journalism will have a very different resume then someone looking for a new job in nursing. It’s this diversity that makes resume building exciting and unique.
This seems like a no brainier, but comes with a caveat. If you are applying directly to a job then your resume should include your basic personal info such as full name, address, phone and email (maybe fax if it applies). The caveat is if you are posting your resume publicly on a website. In this case you DO NOT want to include your personal info, maybe not even your full name. You wont believe how many resumes you can download on job search sites that have peoples full contact info. It’s not smart and it’s not safe! When you apply directly you know the resume is going to the recruiting agency, HR or similar. This is the time to provide your details because they will use that info to get in touch with you directly. The websites don’t need it since there is usually a separate button to get in touch with you avoiding the exchange of personal info right away.
What are you looking to achieve? A resume can be used for more then just job hunting. Volunteer work and internships are just two examples of “interviews” that may require a resume but isn’t a job search. In these cases you want to clearly state what your objective is with the information presented and shared on the resume. Are you looking for a new career based on recent schooling you completed? Are you looking for new challenges and to further develop your skills. Whatever it may be, ensure you are including this on the resume so whoever picks it up knows what you are looking for.
This section is the heart of the resume. After all, the point of the resume is to convey your experiences to the reader to achieve your desired goal. I have found that a structure that includes the company, position, location and years employed is great for the headline. When it comes to summarizing what you did there a mix approach of a few sentences to summarize the job with bullet point highlights of your key areas of work and achievements is a great way to start. Make sure you include the important items. If your job was in healthcare and you have specializations or certifications in particular area’s these are the items you want to highlight and include. If you earned recognition within the company or via outside agencies while employed make sure to highlight those as well. You want to provide a well rounded picture of what you did and earned, without boring the reader or writing a chapter book.
Mostly short and sweet. If you are a very recent grad you may wish to include specialized courses you took and your GPA as well as any activities you were involved with on campus. If you are later in your career the course and GPA may not be a major factor anymore and simply stating your degree earned is enough.
Here is where you can be a bit more lax, but still keep in mind this is a resume. If you are applying to be a civil engineer and you make great pancakes, don’t include that since it doesn’t play a role. But if you have donated your time or skills for organizations or similar, this is where you can highlight what you are all about. What other skills do you posses and can bring to the table that diversifies you from the competition?