Job Search First Aid - The Resume

Advice, Aid, Ideas for the Job Searcher


One-Page:  Keep the resume to one page.  A resume is marketing and not sales; which is to say it's not going to close the sale for you - the interview will do that.  The purpose of a resume is to create enough interest to prompt a call or an interview.

Tailor:  make several versions of your resume, each targeted at different job functions that you would consider, or targeted at different industries.  Don't hesitate to edit a resume for a particular applicaton or prospect.  Be sure to name and save each tailored resume in a manner that will allow you to retrieve it quickly when your prospective employer calls.  For example, if you mail a letter and resume to Acme, Inc. on 9/15/2008, then name the file 2008.09.15.resume.Acme Inc.doc.  That way you can pull it out of a list of resumes quickly. 

Word: Create your resume in Microsoft Word or a word processor that can save to the Microsoft Word format (i.e., with a file name that ends with "doc".  Many employers will request an electronic DOC file for storage in their resume-database.  All businesses have access to Word - and the Word DOC file is now readable on both Mac and PC computers, so that will not be a barrier.

PDF:  If you have access to Adobe Acrobat, it's a good idea to offer the resume in both the PDF or DOC format.  PDF files do a better job of preserving fonts and formatting than DOC files, which may look different on different computers or in different versions of Word.  If you offer links to the resume from your personal web site or blog, then consider adding a add a link that enables the user to download the Acrobat Reader.  Hyperlinks can be inserted in PDFs just as they can with DOCs (though it's a bit more trouble).

Fonts: If you use special or fancy fonts in your resume - or fancy formatting (anchored graphics, tables, etc.) -- be sure, when sending electronic copies to people, to distribute the resume as a PDF rather than as a DOC file (unless a DOC is requested).  Otherwise, the resume will not look the same to someone who does not have those fonts loaded on his/her PC.  If you stay with popular fonts such as Times Roman or Arial (and their bold or italic variations), then the  DOC file is fine.   

References:  DO NOT include references in your resume.  You won't know how often they are being called and the calls may burn them out before the really important job comes along.  DO include "References available upon request." in your resume.   Of course, ALWAYS call the referenced person and ask permission to use them as a reference.  When possible get your reference to write you an undated, "To whom it may concern" letter detailing your great points.  A letter such as this (or several) can be used whenever (and as often as) you want to use it, with a resume, with an application or brought to an interview. 

Proof and edit and proof again:  Have someone proof (search for errors) and edit (suggest changes) your resume.  A resume must be perfect.  Any error will get it thrown in the trash by 99 of 100 readers.

Links:  Since the resume is often sent and reviewed online, the user is likely to be connected to the Internet at the time.  To offer rich information and still keep the resume short, create hyperlinks from key words or phrases to web pages that elaborate on that topic.  Links can also be created to former employer web sites.  Since the resume may be printed and circulated, it should still stand on its own; the hyperlinks only provide supplemental information that allow the reader to delve deeper if desired.  The challenge here is to avoid providing any information that could be construed as negative or that might prevent the reader from asking for an interview.

Web site:  A personal web site, Facebook page or blog is a good supplement to a resume, giving you more room to present yourself and your ideas as well as demonstrate your computer skills.  If you have a web site, list its address on your resume and make a live hyperlink to it in the electronic version of your resume.