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Don’t be modest. Many of us are hesitant to put down just how much we have done, or how good we are. We grow up being taught not to brag, but this is your chance! A resume is like a sales prospectus, and you are the product. The resume gets you the sales interview, and then it’s up to you to close the sale. Make sure you don’t leave out the good stuff.
Talk about what you’ve done that shows how good you are. The statement: "Effectively managed a diverse population of 30 computer professionals to become a cohesive working team" is effective; "Am excellent with people and have great managerial skills" is not. "Consistently exceeded sales targets by 30 to 50 %" is effective; "Am very good at getting a lot of work done" is not.
Keep it honest. You want to say as much as you can that’s positive about yourself, but remember, if the resume works it will get you an interview with someone who will probably be looking right at it during that interview. Don’t ever put in anything you can’t defend, justify or comfortably explain.
Presentation IS important. While the content of your resume is the most important thing, the visual appearance can make a big difference. If your resume is packed with great information, but appears crowded and hard to read, a busy executive might just not take the time to go through it with the care it deserves. Unfair? Of course, but this is the real world. Use indentations, bullet points, and lots of white space. I like to put two or three short to medium sentences with each bullet point, although sometimes one impactful statement will stand alone.
Use the appropriate amount of space. If you’ve been in the work force for five years, and are applying for your second job, using a two page resume would not be helpful. No one wants to look through a lot of padding. On the other hand, if you’ve been working for twenty years and have lots of experience and several jobs, trying to compress it into one page will never do you justice. In that case, forget the so called "experts" that say to put it on one page, and use the space you need to get the job done right (and get the job!). This is especially true if you have a difficult situation such as changing careers, or a scattered work history. The number of one page resumes I do is about equal to the number of two page resumes, with an occasional three page resume at the executive level.
Functional versus Chronological. If you’re on a simple career path, and your last job is the most relevant experience to your next, a standard chronological resume is generally best. This lists your employment from last first, and puts your experience under each employer. However, if you are changing careers, going back to something you used to do, or have a scattered work history, then a functional resume will probably serve your needs better. This kind lists your achievements first, dividing them into about two to four categories, and then puts your employment afterwards with relatively little comment. If your resume is more than one page (and most functional resumes are), be sure the most relevant sections for your new position are on page one.
Avoid "Buzzword Mania". Most fields have some professional "jargon", and it's important to include enough technical terms to let your future employer know that you're familiar with their industry. This can be especially important in high tech fields like computers or engineering, but also true in industries as diverse as insurance, construction, nursing, etc. I've seen resumes, however, that are little more than a collection of buzzwords, and while these may show familiarity with the industry, they do nothing at all to set you as an employee apart from anyone else in the field. An effective resume gives some sense of who you are (at least as far as your professional life is concerned), and what your future employer can expect you to accomplish for him/her. Let's face it, that's really the bottom line.
Make sure it's right! As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your prospective employer is getting dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes, unless you can get their attention, it doesn't matter if you are the most qualified applicant, they'll never know it. Even if you do get the interview, if your resume is mediocre, that interview will start with you having an uphill battle to counter a weak first impression. Take the time to get your resume right! If you can't do it yourself, then seek assistance from a professional who can give you that extra edge. Many successful, talented, and creative people, who are excellent in their professions, still choose to have help with their resumes. They know that their talents lie in other directions, and want every possible advantage for their careers. That's part of why they're successful in the first place!