There are certain resume habits that might lead to a resume being put through the paper shredder. If you can’t put together a decent resume, how can an employer expect you to be very professional for the day-to-day work in the office? After all, you have days, if not weeks, to put together your resume. How are you going to react to on the fly decisions?
To start, your work experience ten years ago is not nearly as important as your most recent experience. Employers are generally most interested in your most recent employment. Highlight your experience in this area.
This mainly applies to younger candidates. For instance, an older applicant may have worked at the same job for twenty years, which ended ten years ago. If this is the case, then by all means you should include your work experience for a job that lasted for such an extended period. Younger applicants should highlight internships and relevant recent jobs, rather than that high school summer job working at the beach.
If you’re just out of college, you may need to add your recent college experience as a primary “work” reference— especially if you have not done any hands-on work. Generally though, your educational experience should be included at the bottom, including brief information about your focus and degree.
Younger candidates also have a tendency to add extraneous information to make up for their lack of direct work experience. Don’’t add personal a lot of personal information. It is not even recommended that you add your age, marital status, number of children, or health issues. Really your work experience is of the most primary concern.
Though some jobs do ask for a photo, it is not necessary to include this with a resume. Some companies might file this under over-embellishment. So if the company does not ask for a photo, don’t include one. References may or may not be necessary, depending on the job. Some jobs will request references up front while others won’t need references until after the interview.
Never use flashy paper, fonts, or graphics. Even if you have top-notch credentials, this will be seen like you are making up for something that is lacking in the resume. It will create a sense of prejudice right off. The idea is to make your experience stand out from the other candidates, not the resume itself.
Be sure to proofread your resume several times to make sure there are no mistakes. It is also recommended that you don’t use abbreviations. These can be less clear than writing out words in their entirety.
Listing your jobs by the year— rather than the month and the year— give the best impression that you have had longer term, stable employment. If you have been promoted within the organization, list the overall years you worked as well as the increasing work responsibility you may have had. There are ways to embellish your work experience without overwriting. Instead of writing “secretary,” write “office assistant,” and highlight the many responsibilities.
Strangely enough, many prospective employees don’t prepare for job interviews with the same diligence that they put together a resume. In many respects the interview is even more important than the resume. Certainly, you won’t even get to the interview without a good resume, but a good interview is what ultimately makes or breaks you getting the job.
Just as you’ve gone through your resume and summarized the most salient points from your job history, you should have a clear idea of what you want to express in an interview. Go through your resume again and decide the most important points that you want to cover in an interview.
An interview needs to be as concise as a resume. If you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to say ahead of time, nerves may get a hold of you and you’ll be in danger of incoherence. Worse case scenario, of course, but it is vitally important to speak with confidence and forcefulness. Having a basic script before you enter an interview is a sure fire way to make this possible.
One way to do this is to write a short essay about your work experience. At first this can be a general assessment of your skills, talent, and experience. Later you can cater this to each individual interview—covering topics that are directly related to the job. Writing out potential interview answers is good practice for the interview. If you’re not comfortable writing an extended assessment of yourself, then speak into a tape recorder. Another method is to act out an interview with someone close to you.
These tactics are mainly useful if you are just beginning to enter the workforce. After a series of interviews, you’re likely to get the hang of it. Like anything, good interviewing takes practice. However, you should never stop preparing for an interview. Every company is different so you should have answers that specifically address the job you’re applying for.
There are some issues that can only partially be prepared for in advance. For instance, you have to be able to read your interviewer, and this can only be done once you get to the interviewer. Some interviews will have a good chemistry, some will not: that’s a fact of life. But there are ways to make the most out of an interview even if it doesn’t seem to be going well.
You must be able to adapt to the personality of the interviewer. If your original game plan doesn’t seem to be working, change tactics. You should have a few different answers for the same question. Some interviewers may not want a laundry list of experience and former responsibilities. Some interviewers may be more generally goal-oriented—what you hope to achieve, what you want out of life, rather than how many words you can type a minute. Your interview must correspond to the interviewers personality type.
Some other things you can do to prepare for an interview: iron your clothes, look presentable, and shine those shoes. The last one can actually be very important. Believe it or not, some interviewers take a lot from the state of a person’s shoes. Finally, turn off your cell phone. It can be rude and unprofessional to have a cell phone go off in the middle of an interview.