Marian Lowenfish, Placement Counselor
Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest, NJ
WHAT IS A RESUME?
A resume is a sales tool. When a person
is seeking a new position, he/she must consider many aspects
of their background
before actually writing their resume. In addition, a
person must know to what kinds of companies their resume
be sent and for what kinds of positions. Just as a salesperson
must know his product and his market, a job candidate
must know him/herself and the market to which the resume
The first task in preparing a resume is to analyze your
work history. Among other questions, write down answers to
the following. Your answers will help determine the format
of your resume (more on that next). For example:
- Do you have a solid work history or many short-term positions?
- Have you held jobs that used a variety of skills or skills
that are closely related?
- Is this a continuation of your
career or change of career?
- Are you newly entering the
work force with little paid work experience, or do you
have existing paid work history?
- Is the work you did now "extinct?" Or,
has your industry vanished or moved to a different geographic
TYPES OF RESUMES
Resumes generally follow one of three formats:
Chronological; Functional; or, Combination. Based upon
your work history,
you should be able to determine which format will
be the most effective.
Chronological: Most employers prefer
this format because it most easily presents the information
they seek. Employers
look for a solid work history, relevant experience in the
job to be filled and experience in their industry. This
format is simple for resume screeners because the information
be compared to the job specifications without interpretation.
Functional: Many career counselors prefer this format because
it focuses on a person's skills up front without giving the
employment history at the beginning of the resume. It is
most often recommended for persons changing careers, because
it allows a person to present the transferable or newly acquired
skills to a prospective employer. It is also effective to
use this format when there is little paid work experience,
or when the recent experience is not relevant to the job
for which you are applying.
If a person has a poor work history (many short-term positions
or lapses in employment) this format works best, since dates
do not stand out at the beginning of the resume. It is possible
that a prospective employer can become interested enough
from reading the skills portion, that an interview may follow.
This format points out your selling points before revealing
Combination: If your employment experience is solid, this
format highlights both the skills you offer as well as your
Examples of all of these can all be found in the many resume
books in the library.
WRITING THAT WINNING RESUME
The following facts should help
you put together a winning resume:
- Decide on the format you wish to use.
- Develop a summary
or objective statement. The objective statement should
be brief and as clear as possible. Keep
what the employer wants and eliminate objectives that
only focus on your desires, i.e., "To work for a
company in which I can grow.............."
that you may want to write more than one resume, in order
to appeal to different objectives or to different
industries. This can be done by changing the objective
or reversing the order of skills and/or accomplishments.
- Keep in mind that it is not the employer's job to figure
out what you want to do. This is something you must be
very clear about. If you are highlighting skills different
what the job entails, this is confusing to the employer
who will assume you are not qualified for the job.
- If a
former company is not well-known, supply a brief statement
to identify the business. i.e., "Fortune 500 company
specializing in the manufacture of paper products." Or, "300
bed long-term care facility."
- When describing your
responsibilities or function at a company, it may be appropriate
to state to whom you reported.
directly to CFO".
- Emphasize accomplishments, not job
duties. Quantify accomplishments, if possible.
- Use action
verbs to describe accomplishments or job functions. i.e., "Directed,
Wrote, Created, Prepared, etc."
- Plan to revise, proofread
and get the opinions of people for whom you have respect.
Take responsibility for your
resume even if it is prepared or typed professionally.
- Appearance counts.
- A resume cannot have any typos, erasures,
- Use clear, readable type and print it
on a laser printer if possible.
- Leave enough white space
and use a good quality paper. White or off-white is best.
- One or two pages are fine, but not more - many executives
with thirty years of experience use one-page resumes.
- Put your name on the top of the second page and mark
it page 2 in the event that the pages are
- Place employment dates in the left
margin only if they are favorable. Dates can be put to
name of the
company in parenthesis.
- Always write a cover
letter to be sent with your resume, and use the same
paper for the
letter as you
did for the resume itself.
Your next position may be just around the corner.
more information about this or other topics related to
your job search, contact
the IAJVS affiliate agency nearest you.
Would you like to suggest or contribute a column for job
seekers? Please contact