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Sorry, there is no 'perfect' résumé

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dear Readers:

As was promised a few weeks ago, we will take a break from responding to the questions in our mailbox and repeat some of the guidelines and principles for developing excellent application documents. This week we will look at strategies for crafting a winning résumé.

Here is a secret you might find surprising: there is no such thing as a “perfect” résumé. Nor is there a cookie-cutter solution to crafting a winning résumé. If you truly want a document that is effective in marketing your experience, skills and competencies, you must be prepared to devote time to preparing it. Trying to hastily throw nice sounding phrases together will not yield the desired results. Instead, think carefully about what you have done or, are doing, and try to determine the best way to present the information in a manner that will hold the interest of your reader.

 

Here are a few tips to consider

1. Think of your résumé as an advertisement designed to differentiate you from other potential candidates.

2. Do not try to give every detail about yourself or your accomplishments. Only give sufficient information to keep the reader interested in learning more about you. Additional details, if necessary, can be given during the interview.

3.The document should be visually appealing, properly formatted, and free of errors.

4. Begin with your basic résumé then try to tweak relevant sections to suit the position for which you are applying.

5. Your résumé should contain, at minimum, the following sections:

a. Identifier section — This section appears at the top of your page and contains your name and relevant contact information.

b. Branding Statement - Craft a profile, using bullet points, that focuses on the skills, qualifications and activities that are most relevant to the new career. This section was traditionally captioned the “Career Objective”, when this approach is used it is written as a short narrative.

c. Skills or Skills summary — Use this section to highlight relevant skills developed from your training or experience (eg, project management, repairs or upgrade of equipment, problem solving).

d. Experience — Be concise. Do not focus on the chronology of your employment. Recalibrate this section to present your accomplishments using terms that will be of interest to the prospective employer or recruiter. Think relevance, and be sure that, where possible, you quantify accomplishments (eg, Retrained a 10-member site upgrade team in troubleshooting strategies, consistently containing escalation costs by more than 20 per cent).

e. Education and Training — In addition to formal education and training, be sure to highlight any professional development that would be of relevance.

f. Optional Categories — Select appropriate captions to include non-work-related activities and skills (eg, community service, volunteerism, membership in technical or professional associations). Include only those categories that convey currency of achievements and relevance.

6. Be sure to use keywords or phrases that are relevant to the position you are seeking. Recruiters use keyword searches to filter and short-list from large pools of potential candidates. For example, if you want to be hired as a customer care agent you might consider including keywords or phrases that describe aspects of your experience that show your effectiveness in relating to customers such as, “build strong relationships”, “leveraged strong interpersonal communication”, etc.

7. Try to quantify your accomplishments by including results-oriented information.

 

Remember, your document should tell your story in an interesting manner. Therefore, you should only include those things that are relevant.

Finally, although we discourage the wanton use of résumé templates, it would be worth reviewing samples and chose one that reflects your professional tastes and is in keeping with the profession you are seeking to enter. Also, we encourage you to seek assistance from a career development officer at any parish or regional office of the HEART Trust/NTA. The service is free of charge.

 

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

 

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of Student Services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm.