Foundation of a job search: a resume

If you’re looking for a job especially during these tough economic times when competition for jobs is fierce, you need a quality resume. In olden days, people had calling cards to announce their arrival. But in today’s world of work, everyone from teenagers to retirees should also have their own modern calling cards: resumes.

A resume tells a prospective employer about your past experiences, accomplishments and future goals. That means before even writing a resume, you need to evaluate yourself and recognize your skills, interests, and values. Many job seekers do not take the time to think about what they do best. It’s a good idea to ask family, friends or colleagues what they think you have to offier. You might be surprised with the result because they may see you from a different perspective than you see yourself.

Your resume is not merely a list of job descriptions or responsibilities. It should include your accomplishments or the things you have done that you are proud of.

Make sure that your resume looks attractive and neat. Most resumes can be one or two pages. If you have significant work history, you don’t have to list all of your jobs. In many cases, the last ten-fifteen years is sufficient for an employer to get an idea of who you are and what you do.

You will also want to customize your resume for each job you wish to apply to. This can mean moving relevant experiences or education closer to the top.

A cover letter is as important as a resume because it is directed to a particular employer and personalized. Some of the best cover letters consist of just three paragraphs, the first one telling what position you are interested in and how you came to know of the job opening. The second paragraph may give a brief description of why you feel you are a good candidate for the job and the last paragraph tells your strong interest, that you intend to follow-up and contact them, and then offers thanks for their time and attention.

Be sure to review what you have written and have others review it for errors or typos. For example, at Monroe College, students have access to the Office of Career Advancement where a career advisor who is expert in job development can review and assist perfecting the cover letter and resume.

Remember…..just one mistake in your cover letter and/or resume and you might strike out! Good luck in your job search.

This is part four of a six-part series by Monroe College designed to provide job development information during these hard economic times.

Barbara Brandes is Career Advisor in the Monroe College Office of Career Advancement. For more information call 800-55-MONROE.

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