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Creating Your First Resume

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Your resume is a one page summary of you your education, skills, employment experience and career objective (s). It is not a biography, but a "quick and dirty" way to identify and describe you to potential employers. Most importantly, its real purpose is to sell you to the company you want to work for. It must set you apart from all the other applicants (those competitors) out there.

So, as you sit down to formulate your resume, remember you're trying to present the pertinent information in a format and manner that will convince an executive to grant you an interview, the prelude to any job offer. All resumes must follow two basic rules excellent visual presentation and honesty but it's important to realize that different career markets require different resumes. The resume you are compiling for your career in public relations is different than one you would prepare for a finance career. As more and more resume "training" services become available, employers are becoming increasingly choosy about the resumes they receive. They expect to view a professional presentation, one that sets a candidate apart from the crowd. Your resume has to be perfect and it has to be specialized clearly demonstrating the relationship between your qualifications and the job you are applying for.

There are many options that you can include or leave out. In general, we suggest you always include the following data:

  1. Your name, address and telephone number

  2. Pertinent educational history (grades, class rank, activities, etc.) Follow the grade point "rule of thumb" mention it only if it is above 3.0.

  3. Pertinent work history

  4. Academic honors

  5. Memberships in organizations

  6. Military service history (if applicable)
You have the option of including the following:
  1. Your career objective

  2. Personal data

  3. Hobbies

  4. Summary of qualifications

  5. Feelings about travel and relocation (Include this if you know in advance that the job you are applying for requires it. Often times, for future promotion, job seekers must be willing to relocate.
And you should never include the following:
  1. Photographs or illustrations (of yourself or anything else) unless they are required by your profession e.g., actors' composites

  2. Why you left past jobs

  3. References

  4. Salary history or present salary objectives/requirements Of salary history is specifically requested in an ad, it may be included in your cover letter)
Special note: There is definitely a school of thought that discourages any mention of personal data marital status, health, etc. on a resume. While I am not vehemently opposed to including such information, I am not convinced it is particularly necessary, either.

As far as hobbies go, I would only include such information if it were in some way pertinent to the job/career you're targeting, or if it shows how well rounded you are. Your love of reading is pertinent if, for example, you are applying for a part time job at a library. But including details on the joys of "hiking, long walks with my dog and Isaac Asimov short stories" is nothing but filler and should be left out

Maximizing Form and Substance

Your resume should be limited to a single page if possible. A two page resume should be used only if you have an extensive work background related to a future goal. When you're laying out the resume, try to leave a reasonable amount of "white space" generous margins all around and spacing between entries. It should be typed or printed (not Xeroxed) on 8 1/2" x 11" white, cream, or ivory stock. The ink should be black. Don't scrimp on the paper quality use the best bond you can afford. And since printing 100 or even 200 copies will cost only a little more than 50, if you do decide to print your resume, overestimate your needs and opt for the highest quantity you think you may need. Prices at various "quick print" shops are not exorbitant and the quality look printing affords will leave the impression you want.

You've finished your exhaustive research, contacted everyone you've known since kindergarten, compiled a professional looking and sounding resume, and written brilliant letters to the dozens of companies your research has revealed are perfect matches for your own strengths, interests, and abilities. Unfortunately, all of this preparatory work will be meaningless if you are unable to successfully convince one of those firms to hire you.

If you were able to set up an initial meeting at one of these companies, your resume and cover letter obviously piqued someone's interest. Now you have to traverse the last minefield the job interview itself. It's time to make all that preparation pay off.

This will attempt to put the interview process in perspective, giving you the "inside story" on what to expect and how to handle the questions and circumstances that arise during the course of a normal interview and even many of those that surface in the bizarre interview situations we have all experienced at some point.

Why Interviews Shouldn't Scare You

Interviews shouldn't scare you. The concept of two (or more) persons meeting to determine if they are right for each other is a relatively logical idea. As important as research, resumes, letters, and phone calls are, they are inherently impersonal. The interview is your chance to really see and feel the company firsthand, so think of it as a positive opportunity, your chance to succeed.

That said, many of you will still be put off by the inherently inquisitive nature of the process. Though many questions will be asked, interviews are essentially experiments in chemistry. Are you right for the company? Is the company right for you'  Not just on paper in the flesh.

If you decide the company is right for you, your purpose is simple and clear cut  to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job, that you will fit in, and that you will be an asset to the company now and in the future. The interviewer's purpose is equally simple to decide whether he or she should buy what you're selling.

But all the preparation in the world won't completely eliminate your sweaty palms, unless you can convince yourself that the interview is an important, positive life experience from which you will benefit even if you don't get the job. Approach it with enthusiasm, calm yourself, and let your personality do the rest. You will undoubtedly spend an interesting hour, one that will teach you more about yourself. If s just another step in the learning process you've undertaken.
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