By Nolan P. Smith
Need a job? For many, the answer is a resounding “yes”! Job searching can be a pain for most, and when you don’t hear back from an employer, it can weigh on your self-esteem. Never fear, you are not alone. As a former career developer for a local school, I know how tough it can be and the challenges faced in today’s job market, especially in the High Desert. So get ready, because I’m going to give you some tips that can improve your chances of getting that phone call you have been waiting for. In the first entry in the “Need a Job?” series, we covered the application; now we move on to the resume.
A resume presents you to potential employers: your work history, your skill set, and your ability to communicate who you are and what you bring in a professional manner. The resume is a paradox of sorts; you don’t want to devote countless hours of your time worrying about and creating your resume, but at the same time it is something you don’t want to rush through. Just like the application, the resume represents who you are, and will ultimately decide if you move on in the screening process, one that leads you down the road to employment. Here are some tips to remember when crafting your own, individual resume.
Be unique. Just like with the application, your resume needs to stand out. But standing out can also occur in a negative light, so be cautious. The look of your resume should be unique, but not overbearing. Some changes in alignment of your text, maybe a slightly different font, but make sure it is a font that is still legible. My resume has a modern feel to it, with an easy to read rounded font, and different shades of grey to break up the page; it has got me past the screening process more times than I can remember, from retail positions to education. Many resume templates suggest that you put a picture of yourself in the resume; I highly disagree with this tactic. Unless you are going for a modeling position, then keep your image out of the employment process.
Use the key. Keywords that is. Remember, you are one of the hundreds, sometimes thousands, all going for the same position you want. Personnel departments will not read each resume one by one; there just isn’t enough time in the day or the available workforce to do so. So instead, they scan resumes for keywords: degrees and certificates you have, titles you have held, words that are used in a professional setting. For instance, if I wanted to put that I “made a program to have high school students go to college after graduating” I would word it “I implemented a program that transitions high school students into higher education.” Also, naming computer programs you are skilled in equals more keywords: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign are all examples.
Be professional. Now, of course, your words and statements need to be professional, but professionalism extends past the resume. When an employer screens your application and resume, checks your references, they sometimes also look you up on social media websites to see how you are. Is it wrong that employers do this? Not at all, as these sites are accessible to the general public. So, you have two options: you can clean up your Facebook wall, your Instagram feed, or any other social media site to ensure you have nothing illegal, vulgar, and overall in bad taste, or you can make your profile private to anyone who isn't a friend. The choice is yours, just don’t be the one that thinks, “Oh, they won’t check my Facebook” and leaves up pictures and text that cost you a job opportunity.
Next time, it is time to prepare for the interview. I’ll have some interviewing techniques, as well as mannerisms you might not even know you are doing which could count against you.
(Originally published at High Desert Daily)