Decades ago, the job market used to be â€˜simplerâ€™ in nature and job titles used to be straight forward. In those times, the question â€˜what is in a resume?â€™ could be answered in simpler terms too. You could apply to a Sales or Purchase job, Technical or Managerial position with only slight tweaks to your resume.
One could make a ‘general’ resume and advance it to many closely related job positions in response to the weekend classifieds. One size fit many, if not all. There were not too many fancy job titles or sub-sub divisions of the job roles.
One Resume Doesn’t Fit ‘All’
Now that the job positions are associated with finer roles even within the same categories, you can no longer post the same resume to all of them. In fact, there are only a few positions these days where you can use the same resume. As a result, any active job seeker has to adapt and create a different resume for different positions. This can become tedious and overwhelm you resulting in mistakes or oversight and may cost you a good job opportunity.
Many job applicants pull out an already sent resume and then make corrections on it to send with a new application. Nothing wrong with that except that you might lose strategic formatting and the potential for mistakes like dates or addresses is great, not to mention the confusion created by going back and forth in finding the right matching resume.
A Master Resume
In order to tackle this challenge, you must create a master resume file. It is essentially a list of all of your qualifications, educational degrees or certificates, experience log, references etc. It is out of this resume file bank that you can selectively withdraw relevant information for separate job applications.
As we all are aware, we do not and can not mention every single thing that we have achieved or earned by way of education or experience in every resume for the sake of keeping it within reading interest of an employer. It would, however, be great if we could use much of our hard earned qualifications in different resumes, as and when needed, relevant to a particular job. This master file can be very handy in quickly creating that perfect resume when you come across a job of your choice.
So, exactly what is in a resume or what information you can draw upon to write a perfect one? Following is a list of all the important things to record in this file in an ordered manner.
List all of your education in order, starting from high school to the university level, if any. Write down dates passed out, degrees or diplomas achieved and certificates completed. Just as you would do in the actual resume, clearly mark the institutions that you have gone to against each educational level. If you have had a long educational history or even a normal one, it is likely that you took up an additional French or Spanish class or attended an optional credit for Good Nutritional Habits or Sports for Good Health etc. List them all as additional achievements. You never know when a job might require a bilingual candidate or if another wants an athletic person; these small references might come in handy.
2. Work Experience
Some of you must be looking for a job for the first time, but others will already have a job history. Clearly list all the workplaces you have worked for, marking your designations and job duties, city/state and time periods. List everything, including that one week training at the local Dollar Store for customer service, even if you were not hired afterwards. You donâ€™t have to use these smaller snippets necessarily in every resume but it helps that tiny bit when a relevant position comes up.
Be proud of whatever you have worked for. Itâ€™ll show them that you were never willing to sit idle. Note down any time you were acknowledged for outstanding work in any capacity at any job. In North America, itâ€™s a great trend to volunteer for activities you are passionate about or in an area of work you someday would expect to be employed into. These volunteer work periods are given apt respect by all employers, so keep these references ready in your master list.
A skill may be defined as the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results, often with the minimum outlay of time or energy, or both. The flow of our natural lifetime keeps making us acquire various skills. Many a time, we overlook our own skills and fail to mention and thus capitalize on them. List any or all such skills in this master list. Some of the common skills that employers are looking for and value include communication skills, management and leadership skills, planning and good time management skills, problem solving and teamwork skills. The more you can claim to have (truthfully), the more your willingness to learn and grow will shine thorough.
For example, when you trained to move that forklift while working for Costco – even though you were filling in for Scottâ€™s two month absence, it has given you a solid technical skill now. Similarly, processing data, using power point and photo shop while working voluntarily for a magazine has bestowed another technical skill upon you. On the other hand, if you have worked for a length of time in a state like California, you were able to develop a skill dealing with a multicultural population with diverse backgrounds. Of course, the icing on the cake would be if you could provide some examples of the skills gained and you are bound to get the recruiting officerâ€™s attention.
4. Awards and Honors
Make a list of any and all awards or honors bestowed upon you during previous years. If you were on the Deanâ€™s Honor List while in college, mention it while applying for an academic or related job. Never underestimate the award for Excellent Customer Service while you worked in that electronic store, and donâ€™t forget to mention it when applying to a job involving any kind of customer service. The point here is that any achievement thus used in your resume becomes an acknowledgment of the lofty qualities that you are claiming you will bring to an organization.
Every one of us accomplishes certain tasks or targets during our working life. Some of these are more noteworthy than others. For example, when you led a four member team to finish preparations to host your state wide sports meet before the deadline time. It was noteworthy because you managed to do it despite a two day transport strike and subsequently helped in completion of the tournament without hitch. Your local newspaper also mentioned about your tireless efforts in its coverage of the event.
Or, within your organization, big or small, when you developed a new database whereby all staff could update relevant information simultaneously and the boss was kept updated without asking for it. And then he really liked it and commented, â€œWhy didnâ€™t someone think of it before?â€ Such things when mentioned in a relevant job resume affirm your innovative nature and capacity to take decisive actions.
Opinions are divided about whether to include your hobbies in a resume. Many experts call it unnecessary because a selector, in their opinion, wonâ€™t put much weight on this section if he deems your â€˜technicalâ€™ prowess to be of more importance, comparatively. Others feel it is an essential part to bring out an overall view of the personality of the applicant.
Whichever school of thought you may like to subscribe to, list your hobbies in your master resume file. You might find it to be an interesting exercise in self discovery, if nothing else. After you have listed your regular hobbies, consider the job posting you are applying to and try to gauge whether your hobbies might be worth mentioning. For example, if you are applying for a Park Recreation Supervisor, your hobby of observing Nature would place you in tandem with your job. Or, your hobby of keeping yourself abreast of the latest in electronic gadgets would help show that your passion for working as a Manager of ELC Electronics is well placed.
Apart from the above mentioned categories, there might be other things that are hard to categorize but are important, nevertheless, in their own right. For example, keep listing your proper references in this master resume file, as you wonâ€™t have to huff and puff when an employer suddenly requires references from you. If you donâ€™t have properly stored names, addresses and phone numbers etc of your references, it might not speak well for you. Any special, unusual or uncommon skills are to be listed here.
You Will Never Again Be Perplexed By â€˜What Is In A Resumeâ€™ Now:
Now that you have listed everything that you have achieved by way of education, training, work, observation or experience, you are ready to withdraw the currency of your talent from your master resume file bank. Always tally the job requirements against this data and choose to include all relevant information in your resume. Youâ€™ll gain a certain confidence in yourself by doing this exercise.
Finally, you need to update this master resume file as and when you achieve something new and additional. You no longer would need to pull out the old sent resumes and can avoid time consuming modifications that carry a potential for mistakes.
Good luck to you in your job search!