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Help Me Write a Better Resume

Help Me Write a Better Resume
Your resume is a potential employer's first impression of you, so don't underestimate its influence. Businesspeople can tell a lot about you from your resume, and we aren't just talking about employment history. Your resume's presentation - not just its content - has a great deal to do with whether or not you get called for an interview.

1) Spelling and Grammar are #1!

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Use the grammar and spelling checkers in your word processor. Ask your friends and family to look your resume over before you call it a finished product. Typos and other mistakes have a way of escaping the eyes of their author. Once you're finished your best draft, have someone with an eagle eye go over your resume again to spot any straggling errors.

Perfect spelling and grammar in your resume may seem obvious, but it really can't be stressed enough. Your resume tells your future employers if you're a quality worker. Anything less than top grammatical quality on your resume will leave them with doubts. It's worth saying again: get your spelling and grammar right!

2) Keep Your Format Consistent

There are dozens of ways to design a resume. Choose one that's right for you and stick with it. It's confusing to a reader if your resume is not laid out in a consistent fashion. For example, say you choose to format one employment history item like this:

Cashier -- Fast ‘n' Fresh Supermarket -- Boston, MA

I processed grocery transactions and trained new employees.

The next item should be in the same format: position, company name, and location on one line, with each detail separated by a dash. On the next line should be a brief description of your duties at that job. Keep the format identical throughout your resume so that your reader doesn't have trouble figuring out what you're trying to say.

3) Create the Right Tone

Your resume is meant to showcase the best of you, so choose the information your recipient will most want to hear and represent it strongly. In the example above, the writer uses active language ("I processed," "I trained…") to report about his cashier job. This tone is much more persuasive than writing: "My job was training," or "I was responsible for handling cash." Make yourself the doer to convince employers of your competence.

4) Consider Your Target Audience

Not every bit of personal information, education, and job experience will be relevant to every employer. Therefore, tailor each resume you create to its intended audience. It may seem tedious, but if you really want a job, it's best to write your resume in a way that appeals to that job specifically.

For example, if you are a certified lifeguard, that fact will be crucial to someone looking to hire a lifeguard. It may even be interesting to someone looking for an employee with elements of that training, such as a childcare provider. It will likely not be compelling to an employer looking for an accountant.

This is not to say that your skills are not transferable. Most experience or training can be translated into something useful to your reader. However, you have such a small amount of space to impress your potential employer that you must trim the details that will have the least likelihood of helping you get the job. Remember, your resume reflects you as a professional, so choose the details that show you're just the professional they need.

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