Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Your Resume A Star!

I remember clearly writing my first resume –fingers poised and ready at the key board – the makings of the most successful candidate an employer has ever seen ready to pour out of my anxious fingers onto the marbleized, specialty resume paper. I typed my first words – first and last name. Ooh – they looked good! My addresses (home and email) followed immediately. It was really shaping up.

And then I sat there – fingertips firmly set upon ASDF JKL; - for what seemed like an eternity. What exactly do I write?

A bead of sweat formed on my brow when I realized that in terms of experience, mine was moderately anorexic. I had just graduated and this resume was to be my entry into the professional world. Do I include my exciting stint with Old Town Trolley tours in Boston? Do I add some creating musings to add some flesh to the frail bones of my experience?

This year at the ASHA Convention in Chicago, the organization added Resume Star to their list of offerings. Attendees had the opportunity to have their resumes reviewed by participating companies. Progressus was one of the companies that signed up to help students and experienced clinicians. From that experience, here are a few resume tips.

Choose a standard font. Yes, Comic Sans is fun, but it does have the word comic in it and that should tell you a lot. Also – keep your font size between 11 and 12. Even on a seriously malnourished experience section, you don’t want to beef your resume up by using an 18 point font. On the verse - you don’t want an employer to need a magnifying to read a teeny tiny font that you used to cram all of your information onto one page. Which brings me to the next point…

There is an age-old urban legend that resumes MUST be one page. No more. I really wish would bust this myth. As long as your multiple pages are ripe with relevant and persuasive information, going to page two is not going to cause seven years of bad career luck. Because there is a double edge to every sword, your resume should fall quite short of a novella. If it’s looking like the latest Harry Potter book, you have gone too far.

Chronology counts, so count backwards. Employers want to know what you have done most recently. Start there and work backwards.

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Seems basic enough, but temptation can be overwhelming when you are really trying to make a good first impression. Lying about experience on ability on a resume will be found – I promise you. I know this from shameful personal experience. I thought – I’ll just beef up my experience with using a particular software. Graphic design software. It’s not like they are not going to test me, right? Right? Wrong. Failed test. Failed interview. Lesson learned – DO NOT LIE! Figure out ways to highlight the experience you do have – highlight experiences, achievements. We all have them – we just need to hone in on them. As for cheating and stealing – don’t do it. Copying your friends resume or an online sample word for word, replacing only your name is never a good idea. You never know when your friend will apply for the same job that you are apply for.

Use a professional email address. may have been a great email address for your college days, but this is not the address you want an employer to reach you through. For the serious job hunter, I recommend setting up a separate email account exclusively for your search.

Keep your resume up to date.
As you gain new experience or reach a new goal, dust off the last version and update it. Even if you are not actively seeking a new opportunity. It will make the process much easier when you are ready to find a new position.

After participating in Resume Stars at ASHA ’08, I have to say that the majority of the resumes we saw were quite impressive, which was very exciting. The best piece of advice I can give is to be confident in your experience – don’t be afraid to celebrate your achievements or to be aware and honest about areas that you are looking to grow. Your resume is almost always your first impression with an employer, so make sure it’s a good one!

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