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Resume Writing: Your Job Search Starts Here

Today SI Careers hosted a Resume Writing Panel and four SI students had their resume critiqued anonymously. One of the key things stated that people should take away from a panel such as today's is that you will get a variety of opinions no matter what when you have your resume critiqued by a variety of people. Resumes are like anything else in the world: football teams, food, cars, clothing, favorite colors: everyone’s opinion differs about what is best. But, in the end you should take the feedback that is given and only accept the comments that you agree with and are comfortable with, because the resume should be a reflection of who you are, not your resume reviewer.

Lynne Sebille-White, Assistant Director of Recruitment Services at the UM Career Center, shared with Joanna and I that the Career Center now has available a Resume Template Service for all UM students to utilize in creating a resume. Optimal Resume Builder has several different formats that you can choose from to help create a clean and professional looking resume. If you are having trouble formatting your resume and haven't even gotten to developing and tailoring the content yet, then this service is for you. If you try it out, let me know. I would love to see the results and hear what you think about it. You can also create cover letters and do mock interviews through Optimal.

Still on the resume writing note, MSN Careers recently published an article on Your Biggest Resume Mistakes (by Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com). I thought I would highlight these mistakes (many of which are quite unbelievable and humorous!) and some of the positive things that you can do to make your job search a success.

Your Biggest Résumé Mistakes by Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com

You formatted your résumé ingeniously. You bolded your name and sized it just enough so it will stand out from the masses. You've proofread, spell-checked and edited it to death. You've even included creative (and of course, vital) information about why you're the best candidate for the job -- but have you gone too far?

In a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, hiring managers and human resource professionals across the nation shared the most unusual résumé blunders they've come across in their careers. Top slip-ups from the survey included:

Applicant attached a letter from her mother.
Applicant specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday was "drinking time."
Applicant explained that he works well nude.
Applicant explained an arrest by stating, "We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig."
Applicant drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift.
Applicant explained a gap in employment by saying it was because he was getting over the death of his cat for three months.

Employers do appreciate creativity in job applicants because rooting through piles of résumés often times can be a monotonous task. The key however is to balance that creativity with professionalism. You want to stand out as someone unique but also someone with applicable experience who can add value to the company.

While the goal of a creative résumé is to make a lasting impression, you want to make sure it's a good impression. Not sure what kind of impact your résumé has? Try getting your résumé professionally reviewed... for free. Job seekers can go to cbRésumé.com, upload their résumés, and receive instant feedback on how to improve their chances of being hired. Here are four sure-fire ways to ensure your résumé makes the right impression.

1. Your personal life is just that -- personal.
One candidate included that he spent summers on his family's yacht in Grand Cayman, while another included family medical history. Hiring managers don't need to know personal information such as your waistline measurement or where you spend your summer vacations. Instead, include information on activities that are business-related such as memberships in professional organizations and community service involvement.

2. Simple. Bold. Professional.
Using pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border (like one candidate did) isn't going to strike anyone as anything but weird. Three key ideas to keep in mind when formatting your résumé are: simple, bold and professional. Instead of flashy formatting and stationery with borders or graphics, create a clean and polished document on résumé paper with consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. To gain a hiring manager's attention, use strong action words such as 'achieved' and 'managed' instead of unconventional fonts or colored text.

3. One size does NOT fit all.
If you're applying for a sales position, it wouldn't make much sense to focus on your experience in an unrelated field like education or information technology. Not only should you play up achievements and experience specific to the job you're applying for, but also provide quantifiable results. For example, it's easy to say that you have experience in sales, but employers will take note if you say that you were responsible for a 10 percent growth in overall sales. Note: including a picture of you in a cheerleading uniform, as one applicant did, also doesn't make sense.

4. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
After you proofread your résumé a few times, ask someone else to review it. A second pair of eyes may be able to catch mistakes you missed and could provide a fresh perspective on how to improve your résumé.

Rosemary Haefner is the Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com. She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

Other great resources that I've found in my perusing of resume writing articles include:
Microsoft Resume Writing Tips: The Inside Track/Resume & Interview Tips
MSN: Is Your Résumé a Mess? by Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com Editor

If you have quesitons or would like to individually discuss your resume, first year MSIs can contact Kelly at kkowatch@umich.edu or second year MSIs can contact Joanna Kroll at jckroll@umich.edu

Posted by kkowatch at September 18, 2007 02:41 PM


You should read resume service reviews before choosing a resume writing service. I did and I'm really glad.

Posted by: cosmos@bluebottle.com at December 9, 2008 04:38 PM

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