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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 9:50 pm | Fair 51º


Michelle Brenner: Does a Résumé Matter?

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Résumés are alive, well and still a vital part of getting a job. Their appearance and function continue to change with the times and technology, but in most cases a résumé is still the admission ticket to employment.

In today’s job market, an effective résumé must be specific, unique and tell the employer why you are a great match for the position. If you are new to résumé writing, it’s helpful to start by looking at examples that you can easily find online. There are many styles, and you can choose different elements from several to create a résumé that fits your industry and reflects your personality.

Using templates, however, can work to your disadvantage. Often, templates don’t allow you to present your qualifications and achievements effectively due to their pre-set format. More importantly, people who read résumés on a regular basis can quickly recognize a template, and that says you didn’t invest much effort or creativity into this very important document. Unfortunately, that can raise questions for a hiring manager about what your performance might be on the job.

There are some things that you want to be sure to include in your résumé and others that are best omitted. Here are some things for you to consider.

» Show them results: Qualify your results with specific information such as the percent of increase in sales, decrease in costs, where you’ve been published or other industry specific accomplishments.

» Be memorable: Hiring managers receive hundreds if not thousands of résumés. Though a “personal interests” section isn’t recommended, do integrate information about your passions and priorities by which accomplishments you list and including where you’ve volunteered.

» Key words: Since résumés are frequently screened by machines, be sure to use the words that are being tacked. Use as many words from the job description as possible that apply to you and your experience.

» On point and to the point: Keep it short, tight and focused. Readers quickly lose interest in wordy documents.

Here are some things to consider omitting:

» Objective statement: In the past this was a general statement used to tell an employer about your objectives and why they should hire you. Now it’s considered obsolete and unnecessary because employers are looking for the specific qualifications and experience that make you a good candidate.

» Your photo: Unless you’re applying for an acting, modeling or entertainment industry job, it’s best not to include a photo. Photos are not required, and it creates an opportunity for a hiring manager to show bias. In short, it’s more likely to hurt than help.

» References: “References upon request” screams out of date. Most companies do extensive background checks and/or included employer history and reference sections in their application. You can be sure employers will ask if they want personal references.

» Résumé paper: Though most applications and résumés are now submitted electronically, if you need to provide a hard copy use a bright white high-quality paper (20 or 24 pounds), not the colored and textured papers you see in office stores. Unless you’re applying for marketing or advertising positions, keep it simple. If you are applying for a creative position, you’ll need to do something much more interesting than granite-style paper.

Remember, the objective of a résumé is to get you an interview. The interview will have much more impact on whether you’re hired, but the résumé needs to be impressive enough to stand out and get you that interview.

Creating a quality résumé takes some time and research. Each résumé must be customized for the company and position you’re pursuing.

Getting professional help with creating the document can be beneficial, but you still need to do the homework. Be sure you know something about the company, thoroughly review the job description and then list the skills, experience and qualifications you have that are required for the position. After that, if you choose to hire professional help, make sure you interact personally with the consultant either face to face, by phone or email so there’s an opportunity for collaboration and feedback.

Ultimately, a résumé needs to be a professional representation of you that stands out and gets you an interview.

— Michelle Brenner has a master’s degree in career counseling and professional development. She lives with her family in Santa Barbara and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.689.9685. Click here for more information.

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