Some may think that something as simple as an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper couldn't possibly stand in the way of career advancement, but, in reality, the resume is a crucial part to any job search.
In a nutshell, your resume encompasses your skills, education, training and special abilities while succinctly conveying to the employer what it is you are looking for, and how, in turn, you can meet the company's needs as well. Creating a resume can also be a frustrating and painfully tedious job, but a well-written resume will pay off in the end.
Anna Ivey, the former dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and author of "The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions: Straight Advice on Essays, Resumes, Interviews and More" (Harvest Books, $14), has these tips for creating a successful resume.
1. Keep it short. "If you've graduated from college in the last 10 years, you must keep your resume on one page," she explains. "Submitting anything longer than that will only try the patience of the person you're hoping to impress."
2. Quantify. Employers understand numbers and the bottom-line most of all. Put your resume in terms the perspective employer will understand, but don't overdo it.
"If you've graduated magna cum laude, tell us that it means top 20 percent," she adds. "If your GPA was a 3.4, but that puts you in the top 30 percent of your class, tell us that, too. If you increased sales, tell us you managed six employees in two different languages."
3. Language skills. Being bi- or multi-lingual is more important than ever in the workplace and is looked upon as a great asset to the company. That's why it's important to highlight any foreign language skill you may possess.
"Always include any language skills - however basic - and be honest about your proficiency," advises Ivey. "There's a difference between beginner's Italian, colloquial Serbo-Croation, intermediate Mandarin and fluent Farsi."
4. Self-Support. "Tell us if you worked your way through college," she says. "It will explain why you might not have as many extracurricular activities as the next person, and it will make your GPA look better than it does - however high or low it may be. Supporting yourself while in school also demonstrates maturity, initiative and drive."
5. Internships. "Internships rarely involve glamorous work, but remember that you didn't take them just to lick stamps or make coffee," Ivey adds. "You took them because you would be able to observe a particular career or industry first-hand. In describing your internships, focus on what you learned and observed and whom you assisted, not what you did."
6. Obscure names. Some employers may not immediately recognize the names of the companies you previously worked for. That's why it's a good idea to provide a clear and concise description of the company as well.
7. E-mail addresses. It may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to provide contact information on your resume. Additionally, be sure your e-mail address is professional enough to put on the resume. Crazypartyboy@wackyguyz.com may give the wrong impression.