A resume is a self-marketing tool used by job seekers to present value to the person responsible for hiring decisions. Perhaps only second to interview skills, writing an effective resume that clearly presents a candidate’s value, abilities, and what they can offer a company is one of the tasks that job seekers find most challenging, yet it is essential to job search success.
Generally speaking, a candidate will be hired based on the value they present to a prospective employer. Clearly presenting the value you have to offer to an organization is especially important if you have not met the employer in person.
Many hiring professionals spend only 10–30 seconds initially looking over a resume to decide whether to give it further review, and then consider the applicant for an interview. Job seekers must not only submit a resume that clearly states relevant skills, experience, education, and accomplishments, but also make sure that their resume is formatted in a way that helps the reader to quickly identify key details and determine whether the applicant could be a good fit for the job.
A good resume will answer the question “Does this job applicant have the skills, abilities and qualifications that will enable him/her to fulfill the responsibilities of this job and meet or exceed organizational goals?”
Following the three steps below will give you a head start in developing an effective resume:
1. Identify what jobs you are interested in and qualified to perform.
Before writing a resume, identify what jobs you are qualified to do. Read job descriptions or talk with a career coach and conduct career research. Some positions may require that you have a license to practice, or security clearance or First Aid training. Find out what is required and what is optional or just an asset. When applying for jobs, you should at least have 70–80% of the education, experience, and skills that the employer is asking for.
2. Conduct career research to discover local job options, job titles, and requirements.
Different countries use different job titles. A recent newcomer found out that the job title of “Associate Consultant,” which he used in his home country, was unclear to Canadian employers. Once he matched his past job duties to the relevant Canadian job title of “Programmer Analyst,” recruiters started calling him as they had a better understanding of his past experience.
3. Identify past job duties that match what the employer is asking for.
Next, create a list of all of your previous tasks and responsibilities that match what the employer is expecting in the job you are applying for. When an employer can see the match between your past experience and what their job position requires, your chances of being called for an interview will increase.