PARTS OF A RESUME
Ideally, your resume should be pointed toward conveying why you are the perfect candidate for one specific job or job title.
A way to demonstrate your clarity of direction is to have the first major topic of your resume be your OBJECTIVE.
This first sentence conveys some very important and powerful messages: “I want exactly the job you are offering. I am a superior candidate because I recognize the qualities that are most important to you, and I have them. I want to make a contribution to your company.” This works well because the employer is smart enough to know that someone who wants to do exactly what they are offering will be much more likely to succeed than someone who doesn’t. And that person will probably be a lot more pleasant to work with as well.
Secondly, this candidate has done a good job of establishing why they are the perfect candidate in their first sentence. They have thought about what qualities would make a candidate stand out. They have started communicating that they are that person immediately. What’s more, they are communicating from the point of view of making a contribution to the employer.
They are not writing from a self-centered point of view. Even when people are savvy enough to have an objective, they often make the mistake of saying something like, “a position where I can hone my skill as a scissors sharpener.” or something similar. The employer is interested in hiring you for what you can do for them, not for fulfilling your private goals and agenda.
Here’s how to write your objective. First of all, decide on a specific job title for your objective. What are the two or three qualities, abilities or achievements that would make a candidate stand out as truly exceptional for that specific job?
Be sure the objective is to the point. Do not use fluffy phrases that are obvious or do not mean anything, such as: “allowing the ability to enhance potential and utilize experience in new challenges.” An objective may be broad and still somewhat undefined in some cases, such as: “a mid-level management position in the hospitality or entertainment industry.”
Remember, your resume will only get a few seconds attention, at best! You have to generate interest right away, in the first sentence they lay their eyes on. Having an objective statement that really sizzles is highly effective. And it’s simple to do. One format is:
OBJECTIVE: An xxx position in an organization where yyy and zzz would be needed (or, in an organization seeking yyy and zzz).
Xxx is the name of the position you are applying for. Yyy and zzz are the most compelling qualities, abilities or achievements that will really make you stand out above the crowd of applicants. Your previous research to find out what is most important to the employer will provide the information to fill in yyy and zzz.
SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
This section of your resume can have several possible titles, depending on your situation:
- SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- SUMMARY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- SELECTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- AREAS OF ACCOMPLISHMENT AND EXPERIENCE
- AREAS OF EXPERTISE
- CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
- PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
- ADDITIONAL SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
There are a number of different ways to structure “Skills and Accomplishments” sections. In all of these styles, put your skills and accomplishments in order of importance for the desired career goal. If you have many skills, the last skill paragraph might be called “Additional Skills.”
Here are a few ways you could structure your “Skills and Accomplishments” section:
1. A listing of skills or accomplishments or a combination of both, with bullets
SELECTED SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Raised $1900 in 21 days in canvassing and advocacy on environmental, health and consumer issues.
- Conducted legal research for four Assistant U.S. Attorneys, for the U.S. Attorney’s office
- Coordinated Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board of community mental health center. Later commended as “the best thing that ever happened to that job.”
2. A listing of major skill headings with accomplishments under each. The accomplishments can be a bulleted list or in paragraph form. The material under the headings should include mention of accomplishments which prove each skill.
National Training Project / Conference Management.
- Director of Outreach on Hunger, a national public education/training project funded by USAID, foundations and all the major church denominations. Designed, managed and promoted three-day training conferences in cities throughout the U.S. Planned and managed 32 nationwide training seminars and a five-day annual conference for university vice-presidents and business executives.
Program Design: Universities.
- Invited by Duke University President Terry Sanford to develop new directions and programs for the University’s Office of Summer Educational Programs, first Director of Duke’s “Pre-college Program,” first editor of “Summer at Duke.” Designed and successfully proposed a center for the study of creativity at The George Washington University.
3. A list of bulleted accomplishments or skill paragraphs under each job (in a chronological resume).
Director of Sales and Marketing
DELAWARE TRADE INTERNATIONAL, INC. Wilmington, DE
- Promoted from Sales Representative within one year of joining company to Director of Sales and Marketing. Responsible for international sales of raw materials, as well as printing and graphic arts equipment. Oversaw five sales managers. Was in charge of direct sales and marketing in 17 countries throughout Europe and the Middle East.
- Recruited, trained and managed sales staff. Developed marketing strategy, prepared sales projections and established quotas. Selected and contracted with overseas sub-agents to achieve international market penetration.
- Negotiated and finalized long-term contractual agreements with suppliers on behalf of clients. Oversaw all aspects of transactions, including letters of credit, international financing, preparation of import/export documentation, and shipping/freight forwarding.
- Planned and administered sales and marketing budget, and maintained sole profit/loss responsibility. Within first year, doubled company’s revenues, and produced $7-9 million in annual sales during the next eight years
THE EVIDENCE SECTION – HOW TO PRESENT YOUR WORK HISTORY, EDUCATION, ETC.
List education in reverse chronological order, degrees or licenses first, followed by certificates and advanced training. Set degrees apart so they are easily seen. Put in boldface whatever will be most impressive. Include grade-point average only if over 3.4.
Do include advanced training, but be selective with the information, summarizing the information and including only what will be impressive for the reader.
No degree received yet? If you are working on an uncompleted degree, include the degree and afterwards, in parentheses, the expected date of completion: B.S. (expected 20__).
Other headings might be “Education and Training,” “Education and Licenses”.
List jobs in reverse chronological order. Decide which is, overall, more impressive – your job titles or the names of the firms you worked for – then consistently begin with the more impressive of the two, perhaps using boldface type.
You may want to describe the firm in a phrase in parentheses if this will impress the reader. Put dates in italics at the end of the job, to de-emphasize them; don’t include months, unless the job was held less than a year. Include military service, internships, and major volunteer roles if desired; because the section is labeled “Experience.” It does not mean that you were paid.
Other headings: “Professional History,” “Professional Experience”–not “Employment” or “Work History,” both of which sound more lower-level.
If the only awards received were in school, put these under the Education section. Mention what the award was for if you can (or just “for outstanding accomplishment” or “outstanding performance”). This section is almost a must, if you have received awards. If you have received commendations or praise from some very senior source, you could call this section, “Awards and
Include only those that are current, relevant and impressive. Include leadership roles if appropriate. This is a good section for communicating your status as a member of a minority targeted for special consideration by employers, or for showing your membership in an association that would enhance your appeal as a prospective employee. This section can be combined with “Civic / Community Leadership” as “Professional and Community Memberships.”
CIVIC / COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
This is good to include if the leadership roles or accomplishments are related to the job target and can show skills acquired. Be careful with political affiliations, as they could be a plus or minus with an employer or company.
Include only if published. Summarize if there are many.
Advantages: Personal interests can indicate a skill or area or knowledge that is related to the goal, such as photography for someone in public relations, or carpentry and wood-working for someone in construction management. This section can show well-roundedness, good physical health, or knowledge of a subject related to the goal. It can also create common ground or spark conversation in an interview.
Disadvantages: Personal interests are usually irrelevant to the job goal and purpose of the resume, and they may be meaningless or an interview turn-off (“TV and Reading,” “Fund raising for the Hell’s Angels”).
You probably should not include a personal interests section. Your reason for including it is most likely that you want to tell them about you. But, as you know, this is an ad. If this section would powerfully move the employer to understand why you would be the best candidate, include it; otherwise, forget about it.
May also be called “Interests and Hobbies,” or just “Interests.”