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Top 10 resume-writing tips
Land your dream job with the perfect resume

Because the average employer spends between 35 to 40 seconds scanning a resume, yours needs to catch enough attention not only to whisk you past the first scan, but also to launch you into your dream position.

Rethink references

Forget closing your resume with the staid “References available upon request.” In a constantly shifting job market, employers know references are available.

But while you don’t need to mention references on your resume, you ought to keep a list handy. Be prepared to submit it as soon as you send in a resume.

To select at least three solid references, consider only those who will gush your praise. Before you leave your current position, ask your employer whether he would be comfortable referring you. If he hesitates at all, don’t use him.

When asking for referrals, explain the potential position and provide an updated resume. Describe the job’s challenges and requirements and detail your plan to succeed. You may want to ask references to tell you how and when they have been contacted.

Human resource managers, digging for inconsistencies between your references and your interview, will likely contact each of your references. Managers often inquire about promptness, ability to work with coworkers and foster a team atmosphere, competency and weaknesses and overall attitude.

When your job search concludes, thank your references and let them know how their referral helped.

Fortunately, eye-catching resumes are within reach with the following tips:

Before putting pen to paper, do the research. Find out all you can about your prospective company and read the job description carefully.

Catalog your activities. Make a list of previous jobs, professional and volunteer associations, papers, articles or books written, certifications, licenses, honors received and anything else relevant to your work. If you’ve recently graduated or are applying for an internship, include extracurricular activities and internship experiences. Keep this list and add to it throughout your career.

Decide what to include. Rosie Barry, career director at the University of Minnesota , suggested assessing your goals, skills and experiences to discover what’s important to you and what should be in your resume. Note what skills and experiences are identified in the job description and determine how you meet them.

Order the resume. Reverse chronological order is the most popular, with a list of honors and former employment following your objective. Begin with your most recent position and go back about 10 to 15 years. But keep it relevant. That cashier or dish washing job a decade ago may not be necessary. However, the college grad can list grunt-work summer jobs to highlight his or her diligence and perseverance. Chronological formats celebrate a steady train of experience yet highlights employment gaps.

Skills-based resumes, unlike chronological ones, focus on talents. This is a good option for grads with training but little experience or those making a career move who want to emphasize transferable skills.

A combination of chronology and skills is also an option and is an excellent way to tie experiences with talents. Format can get sticky, though, so make sure to present a logical record.

Once you’ve selected an order, it’s time to fit that order into a resume framework. Resumes generally include an objective, a summary of qualifications, education, employment and skills. Depending on what you’re applying for, you may want to feature computer or language skills.

Design your resume. Stick to one page and print it on stock paper. While you can use a resume template found in most Word and Office programs, try to branch out and show off your ingenuity. Experiment with formatting. Try different bullets, lines, fonts, font sizes and headings, but don’t be too cute or gaudy. Classic with a touch of creativity is usually best.

Write. Maintain the same tense throughout the resume; past tense is preferred. Describe your roles and accomplishments with strong action verbs, key terms and specifics. For example, saying, “Was on the advertising team and met goal,” shrivels next to, “As team leader, propelled the advertising department to meet goal for the first time in five years.”

Be concise. Descriptions should not exceed three to four lines on a page. Although complete sentences are allowed, phrases are more common. Regardless, keep punctuation consistent.

Critique. Is your resume too long or too short? Do you use power verbs or stumble over run-on sentences? Read it through and circle what’s important. Then strengthen the essentials and cut or par down other sections.

Ask a friend to check your resume for spelling and punctuation errors and clarity.

Unless otherwise noted, information gathered from www.collegeboard.com, www.monster.com, www.jobsniper.com, www.careerbuilder.com and www.jobweb.com.

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