by Delores Dean, Ph.D.
Economic downturn and declining job forecasts can paint a dismal picture of the future. A resume, therefore, must paint a better picture in five areas to showcase an applicant as the ideal candidate. Thus, the modern resume tells an interesting and quality story about a person’s life experiences through its appearance and by highlighting professional objectives, academics, leadership skills and special talents.
Warning: your resume must grab an employer’s attention without being offensive. Start by using quality resume paper with simple colors like white or beige. Today, most resumes are sent electronically. Scanning a document printed on colored paper can make it difficult to read if the employer prints a hard copy (on a black ink only printer). Avoid fancy boxes and other decorative symbols that distract the reader. Use an appealing layout that is neat with an easy to read font.
There is a tendency for applicants to write broad objective statements to avoid making themselves less marketable to serve in different capacities. The assumption is that being specific about your interests communicates limited ambition or a narrow job focus. Yet, “seeking employment in a position that allows for personal growth and professional development…” is so broad that it becomes meaningless. Such a statement can communicate that an applicant is unsure of themselves and their career goals. Keep it simple, succinct, and specific enough that the objective fits the position description. This means this part of your resume will change with each position. Also, remember to use words that are used in the profession you are applying.
Recent college graduates should include the degree, university and dates in the next section. Be sure to note your grade point average (GPA) if above a 3.00; employers often equate GPAs with how serious you will be about a job. List academic honorary awards or society memberships. Also include any notable achievements that indicate significant brainpower, which many employers look for during the hiring process.
Corporate recruiters are seeking individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills. High school students can include leadership positions like the captain of the football team or president of the National Honor Society. College students should join and list clubs and activities related to their degree or the job position. Professionals should list committee chair work or civic work. Be sure to state your responsibilities and duties along with positive results. For example, the statement “Implemented form for reporting daily tasks with 100 percent increase in staff production” makes your leadership capabilities sound exciting and beneficial.
In addition to the previous resume areas, this section provides an extra opportunity for you to shine above your peers. List any awards, licensures, certifications, memberships, computer skills, special recognitions, presentations, foreign languages, world travels and/or publications—to name a few.