Resume writing 2017
Resume writing has changed over the years, as the job market changes. It's important to keep up-to-date on resume standards so you don't miss out on employment opportunities.
In this post we will be discussing different points of views on industry standards including cover letters and references.
Let's start with cover letters, should you include one?
Experts say that a cover letter is necessary and at Chatterbox we agree. A cover letter is an important piece to include with your resume. Monter.com says "skip the cover letter, and you miss out on an opportunity to sell yourself". A cover letter can introduce you, provide insight to your personality and clue potential employers why you want the position. It's a way to sell yourself, and tell the employer why you're best suited for the job. In short YES, always include a cover letter unless the job posting states otherwise.
How to write a cover letter
We suggest writing your resume first, then creating a cover letter. We say this because when picking a style for your resume you want to follow the same format for your cover letter. Our example throughout this post is Amelia Patterson who wants a position in fashion design. See how the top of her resume has her name and contact information? This format and style should also be used for the cover letter and reference page.
Next, you want a few paragraphs that enhance your resume while showing more personality. The balance.com does a great job of explaining what elements you need in your cover letter.
Each of your body paragraphs should be single spaced, with a space between each paragraph. The first paragraph of your cover letter should include information on the position you are applying for, including the job title. You should state how you heard about the job, and (briefly) explain why you think you are an ideal candidate for the position.
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Mention why you are qualified for the job and how your skills and experience are a match for the position for which you are applying. Provide specific examples to prove your skills and experience.
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up.
It's best to pick a layout or style before inserting all your information. When we create a resume for a client, we find out what types of jobs the client is applying for in order to help us pick a style that fits their needs. For example, if you are looking for a position in upper-level management, you may want a more conservative resume format. If you are looking for a more creative position such as graphic design, art curator, marketing etc. then you can use a bolder template.
Here's are some Microsoft Word templates to get you started. - RESUME TEMPLATES
If you want to create a more theatrical resume you can do so on Canva. Keep in mind that your cover letter and reference page should match or have elements to make all application pieces look cohesive.
Side note: Most employers will find you on social media even if you don' put links on your resume. Your social media speaks volumes as to who you really are, and if you post pictures of you partying or drinking beers or even questionable behavior it will definitely hinder your chances of an interview or job offer. Watch what you post!
Okay back to the resume...
Prime location & Information
Include your name, address, phone number, email, and social media links at the most prominent space (at the top). You want employers to know how you can be contacted.
The next section can be formatted in different ways but it's the Objective/Summary of Skills section. This comes before your work history, and quickly shows the employer that you are qualified for the position and what jobs you may be looking for. You can use them in a combination as well as shown below.
Objective/Summary of Skills
The career objective may not change depending on the positions applying for. This section is to tell the employer what type of position you are wanting. You never know, an employer might have multiple open positions and think you may be suited for the one you didn't directly apply. The Skills section is where you can pull information from the job posting and tell the employer at a quick glance that you are qualified for the job.
The work history section of a resume is where the industry standards have changed. Meaning the older resume format (as seen below) is dead. Why? Because it doesn't give the employer much information. With the job market being so competitive, employers are getting bombarded with resumes. They don't have time to interview every person applying, therefore resumes must give as much information as possible to even have a shot at an interview.
Today's standards are to include more information under the Experience/Work history section of a resume, but doing so in a clear and concise manner. You don't want to write a novel because again, employers do not have the time to read every word, and may just skip over your resume altogether.
We suggest using a bullet point format, with a possible 1-2 sentence job explanation.
This is the section people tend to have the most difficulties. When it comes to your bullet points and job experience, you want to chose your words carefully. You will want to list all your past job responsibilities no matter how small. For example, if you cleaned bathrooms as part of your job instead of saying "cleaned bathrooms" you would say "maintained facilities regularly, ensuring restrooms where up to company standards". Can you see the difference? One sounds like a menial task, while the other sounds as though you took pride in the task and cared about company standards.
If you aren't sure how to re-write your job duties, try looking online for inspiration. Expanding on the "cleaned bathrooms" task, try searching for janitorial job description this will show results for you to review and hopefully gain some insite on how to re-word your work experience in a more professional manner.
You shouldn't embellish your tasks drastically. If you end up in front of an interviewer you will need to be confident in your past experience listed on your resume.
Bottom Section of the Resume
This section can be filled with a few possibilities. If you have a degree then, by all means, list your schooling under the title Education. If you have not completed a degree, and are not working towards finishing one, then it's best to leave this section off your resume.
References - whether to list them or not is up for debate. According to The Job Network "There’s no real need to provide that up front unless the company or job description specifically asks for it". In this case, you could write "References available upon request", but have your references ready.
However, here at Chatterbox Promotions, we see the importance of providing information for the employer to have at their fingertips. The saying "Knowledge is Power" we believe applies to resumes, and the more knowledge you can give to a potential employer the better. It's less they have to worry about later. Therefore, references can be listed in this space IF the space allows. You don't want to crowd your resume and you may need a separate page for your references.
In our example, we have too much white space and show how you can list both Edication and References.
Here is the example resume in its entirety. Looks great right? WRONG! there are many details that need to be fixed. Formatting is just as important as the information you put on your resume. When formatting errors occur it can relay that attention to detail is not your strong suite, or you didn't proof-read your resume which can give a negative impression.
Make sure you review your resume carefully, it's always a good idea to have someone else look at it. Contact us and we would be happy to review your resume.
When creating a reference page, make sure it follows the same format as your cover letter and resume. Again you want your 2-3 documents to look like they belong together. For a reference page you will want to include at least three professional references, which may include previous mangers, supervisors and colleagues. According to Glassdoor's article 5 References That Should Be On Your List To Land The Job you could also include a teacher or Advisor. They state "It’s a good idea to prepare a document listing your references so you can have them ready for employers. Here are five people you can include on your list of professional references if you want to land the job:
1. Former Employer. A previous employer can provide the best insight into your work ethic. They know what your responsibilities were at your job and how you handled them.
2. Colleague. Someone you worked alongside at a previous job, even if they weren’t your boss, can be an excellent reference. They will be able to speak about things you worked on together and what you achieved as a team. Teamwork is one of the most important soft skills an employer looks for, so having someone to vouch for your teamwork skills is vital.
3. Teacher. A teacher or professor can provide a really strong reference, especially if they taught a course pertinent to your major. They will be able to talk about the skills you picked up during their course, as well as your personal character.
4. Advisor. An academic advisor, depending on the amount of time you spent with them, is another great option for a reference. If your advisor is someone who got to know you really well during your college career, they can talk about how you’ve grown into the professional you are today.
5. Supervisor. Someone who supervised you, but wasn’t necessarily your boss, could be another excellent reference to include. This could be a supervisor from a volunteer project, an internship, or some other extracurricular activity. Any of these people spent enough time working with you to get a sense of your character, and probably your passions. That combination makes for a great reference." - Glassdoor.com
Here is Amelia's finished resume materials, she is ready to go get a fashion designer job.
Follow these steps for your resume and get it noticed!
If you need help, let us know.