Research job descriptions for your desired profession
Before constructing a resume and curating a portfolio, learn what employers are looking for. Research job listings and read job-recruiting blogs to understand what skills, education, and experience employers are seeking. From that knowledge, think about how your resume and portfolio can be molded to meet an employer’s needs.
Formatting and building a resume can seem a bit confusing. In my experience, I’ve either read or have been given various, conflicting resume-writing tips over the years: “focus on your education first and list skills last”; “focus on your skills first and education second”; “include all your previous employers”; “don’t include all your previous employers, unless relevant”; “stick to one page”; “more than one page is fine”; and so forth. A university technical writing course I took two years ago straighten out a lot of my misunderstandings about the functions of resumes and revealed why there are so many varied rules around their creation.
A successful resume is specialized
“[A] résumé is principally an objective summary of your skills and achievements, secondly a subtly clever argument that you are worth hiring, and finally a reflection of your individuality.” – Joe Schall, WritingCommons.com
To catch the interest of an employer, your resume should be crafted to best suit your desired position or profession – information that can be discovered by researching job listings, as suggested earlier in this post. Below are four tips to jump start your resume curation and help your resume stand out.
- Give your skills high visibility
Money magazine advises to “[l]ead with the good stuff” by delineating your skills, explaining, “The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths.”
- Objectives/summaries can be optional, and job titles can be helpful
According to Joe Schall of Writing Commons, some job seekers may feel restricted by the process of writing an objective when applying for multiple positions, or they may feel the space could be used more effectively with some other information; still, Schall recommends that undergraduates write objectives. He also recommends listing one’s job title, if possible.
- Use keywords
Including keywords that match keywords written in job ads can convey your compatibility with a posted position and can reveal your attention to detail to the posting itself. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. of LiveCareer.com, writes “Look for the words that appear early in an ad or job description; the first keywords mentioned are likely the most important.”
- Keep these items out of your resume
The following can hurt your chances of employment, rather than increase your chances. Hopefully, the reasons are self-explanatory.
Do not include:
- Salary requirements
- Tables or columns
- Every job you’ve ever had
- Social media links that may not be advantageous to your employment
For more resume construction tips, see the links at the end of this post.
All resumes are not created equal, nor are they meant to be
Different resume expectations exist for different careers. A company hiring graphic artists will expect a self-expressive, artful, creative resume; while, a company hiring a news broadcaster would have different expectations, perhaps a clean, formulaic resume format with less room for creative license. Resume expectations also change with time. Ten years ago, including a LinkedIn or other social media handle in a resume would be an oddity, yes, LinkedIn existed ten years ago. Nowadays, savvy job seekers across industries include relevant social media handles. The primary message here is to research resume expectations for your desired profession. Below are two illustrations of how broadly different resumes for different industries can be.
“[E]mployers sometimes use the terms “résumé” and “curriculum vitae” (or CV) interchangeably, and both terms loosely mean “life summary.” – Joe Schall, WritingCommons.com
While a resume should relay a “life summary” or, more specifically, a work summary, one’s portfolio should also tell a narrative, as explained in my previous post Crafting a Professional Portfolio. A narrative arises out of the culmination of each page in your portfolio, all of which, should tell its own story about a skill(s) you possess. Portfolios should include samples of your best work curated for the profession or position you desire. Some examples of portfolios can be found here: JournoPortfolio.com and here: SkillCrush.com.
Create a professional website
In Forbes.com’s, ”Why Every Job Seeker Should Have a Personal Website, And What It Should Include,” Jacquelyn Smith writes that, “56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool,” and she relays that while “80% of job seekers want a personal website . . . only 7% have one.” In my experience, a personal website has helped me gain employment. However, it is very important to be sure that content on the site you share with employers is well written and not offensive or controversial. When choosing to include your website URL in your portfolio or resume, keep curation in mind. Ask yourself whether all the content on your website suitably presents your talents and whether any personal content on the site is unbefitting for the perusal of prospective employers.
For example, I have two websites, and although they each have years of content displaying my dedication to the sites, I don’t wish to share them with employers. While one of my websites helped earn me one type of job in the past, that same website would not serve me well for my new career. So, I’ve decided to create a third website that will only display material directed toward the type of career I’m currently aiming for. For some people this might not be necessary, and I’m not suggesting that people create multiple websites for every career goal. But if I were to utilize one of my existing sites to display career-related content, I’d run the risk of confusing my current audiences by writing material that is out of character or off-genre. Censoring myself on my older, long-running sites is also a no-no. The best route in this scenario is to create a new site altogether. (Yes, my other websites might populate in a Google search of my name, but that is not too likely, as I use pen names or other versions of my name for different other websites.)Below are Forbes.com’s suggestions for creating an effective personal website for job seekers
- Employ a professional headline – a statement of what you do as a professional, e.g., “Book Editor”
- Be regular – update your site regularly with well-written, error-free content
- Include contact information – an obvious step for job seekers
- Include a brief personal biography –
- Upload your resume
- Blog – exercising your writing skills can unwittingly attract employers while exhibiting your ability to write professionally
- Check out the full list of Forbes’ personal website tips
You now know the trinity of the successful job seeker: a specialized resume, a curated portfolio, and a professional website. Now arm yourself, go forth, and conquer the job market.
Writing the Conventional Résumé: https://writingcommons.org/chapters/professional-technical-communication/employment-documents/1089-writing-the-conventional-resumeWhat Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019: http://money.com/money/5481496/how-to-make-a-resume-2019-free-template/Researching Resume Keywords in Job Postings: https://www.livecareer.com/career/advice/resume/researching-resume-keywords