Tips for Effective Resume Writing | Maryland's iSchool - College of Information Studies - Masters Program - University Of Maryland

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Tips for Effective Resume Writing

An effective resume is a significant component in a successful job search. In a competitive job market, your resume needs to describe your best skills, accomplishments and experience thoroughly and concisely. Use the following tips to help create a winning resume.

  1. Forget OBJECTIVE, think PROFILE.

    Traditionally, job seekers were told to open their resumes with an objective statement that clearly stated the type of position they were looking for. The only problem with this approach is that it puts the emphasis on what the jobseeker is looking for, rather than on what the jobseeker is offering to prospective employers. A stronger way to begin your resume is with a Profile section that lines up your aspirations, skills and experience explicitly with those needed for your target job. If you are making a career transition or are a recent graduate, this can be a great way to help the reader make connections between your background and their needs. This is also the place to emphasize soft skills such as problem solving, communication and organizational ability.

  2. Think about the best FORMAT for your resume, based on your background and career goals.

    Not every person should use the same type of resume. In general, you should look for a way to highlight the best knowledge, skills and abilities that you bring to your target job. For a recent graduate, that might mean listing your education directly below your Professional Profile and describing prominent school-related honors and activities. An experienced professional should list their experience first and use very little space describing their education. A career changer or someone who is looking for a job after a long absence from the job market might want to use a functional resume that emphasizes skills and knowledge, rather than specific work history.

  3. Be CONCISE, but SPECIFIC in describing your experience.

    For most industries and most job seekers, your resume will be no more than 1-2 pages. Unfortunately, while trying to conserve space, many people resort to imprecise language in their resumes. Begin your phrases and bullet points with strong action verbs that clearly describe your experience and the skills you used to obtain it. If, for example, you researched and wrote a publication, be sure to use that language, rather than a non-specific verb such as “developed”. In addition, analyze your target job announcement(s) for common keywords; look for places where you can use those keywords in your resume. These keywords will help your resume rise to the top of searches in electronic-based application systems and even human readers will be more likely to see how your background matches your target position.

  4. Focus on ACCOMPLISHMENTS, not duties.

    Many jobseekers make the mistake of simply providing a play-by-play of their everyday job duties. This is not wrong, but it’s hard to stand out with just a basic list of job duties. Instead, emphasize special projects you completed, improvements you made and any specific metrics or results related to the project. Thinking of your accomplishments can be an intimidating exercise; remember that they are going to be judged based on those of others with your level of education and experience, so look for specific examples that demonstrate your value as an employee.