What’s New on Resumes These Days?
What’s new is what doesn’t appear on resumes anymore: Titles, personal information, and references.
The current style is not to put “Resume” or “Curriculum Vitae” or a job title on a resume. These heads always were redundant. The first thing anyone sees on your resume should be your name.
Next, after years of offering a bit of personal information, this is now completely out—unless, of course, the information has a direct bearing on the job you’re hoping to get. Even then, always be extremely reluctant to include any-thing such as weight or height. It’s better to let the person who reads your resume assume you’re physically qualified if this is an issue. And certainly you never need include anything about your age, race, religion, or marital status—or for that matter, your plans for childbearing. (And it’s illegal for a prospective employer to ask about any of these things.)
If something personal truly is relevant—you’re applying, for example, for a company that exports luggage to Spain, and you lived there for two years—then you should mention it. But only then.
Finally, after years of ending resumes with the neat little tagline “References available on request,” it’s no longer necessary to do this. Prospective employers assume they can check your references, and nowadays, they don’t need to be reminded of this in any event. The only exception is that you may want to mention the availability of a portfolio if you have one. But even here, if yours is a business where everyone is expected to have a portfolio, then there’s probably no reason to mention this either.
DO I DARE LIE—EVEN A LITTLE—ON A RESUME?
The answer is an unequivocal no. Newspapers and television news programs frequently carry the stories of government officials or other public figures who have lied about their credentials on a resume and are being ousted from their jobs, as a result of the lie having been discovered. The same thing will happen on any job if you are discovered to have lied about your qualifications. The small sin of puffing up one’s experience, which was common only a few years ago, can now cost you a job—even one for which you have already been hired. Employers simply got stung too many times, so they began to crack down on job applicants who misrepresented themselves. Employers who once never did background checks now do very thorough ones. People are hired on the condition that they can be dismissed immediately if a back-ground check reveals that an applicant has misrepresented anything about himself or herself.
Therefore, never lie on a resume. To be specific, never say or even imply that you completed a course of study or graduated from a school when you did not. Never say you worked alone when you were, in fact, part of a team. Never claim more responsibility for a project than you actually had. These are only the most common lies, the ones that are most often found out in the course of routinely checking references. No lie, however, is safe.
Keep in mind, though, that there is a difference between puffing up your experience and presenting yourself in the best possible light. You always want to look as good as possible on a resume. That’s the reason for writing one. In this book, you will learn how to describe your experience in the most positive way possible.
MUST I WRITE MY OWN RESUME?
Yes, everyone should write his or her own resume. Professional resume-writing services exist, but they tend to turn out resumes that are too pat. All the resumes from one service will sound alike, and prospective employers know how to spot the professionally written resume.
Employers do not like them for the simple reason that if someone writes your resume for you, employers cannot tell how well you can present yourself. A prospective employer cannot check whether you are neat, well-organized, and a competent speller and writer—all things that a resume reveals. The resume that sells you best is always the one you obviously prepared yourself.
Do not panic, however, if you need some help in getting a resume together. Most people do. That’s why this book was written. It is also a good idea to have someone look over your resume. Another pair of eyes will be necessary to catch small grammatical and spelling mistakes. Just be sure that your resume in its final form—the one you send out—is a good representation of you and your skills.
MUST I WRITE MORE THAN ONE RESUME?
Once you are beyond the ranks of new graduates, you probably will need more than one resume, although you may not need one for every single job you apply for. When a job comes along that you’re really interested in, though, it’s a good idea to slant your resume toward it. By that, I mean you should make your resume read as if you are a custom-made candidate for this job—and that, of course, requires a custom-written resume. You will play down some experience and play up other experience in order to fit the job description.
This isn’t as difficult as it sounds if you have access to a desktop computer. Most people begin by preparing a chronological resume, and then use it as a basis for slanting individual resumes.
Some industrious souls even write two or three resumes in varying formats—one chronological, one achievement-oriented, and one capsule—that anticipate their needs in advance. Whether you go to this length or write them as demand dictates will, I suspect, have more to do with your personality than anything else. Just keep in mind that when you really want the job, you should write a resume designed to make you look like the dream candidate.
A final word of advice: However much a resume may be geared to one job prospect, once you’ve written a slanted resume, be sure to keep a copy. You never know when you’ll need it again.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
This book is designed to take you through each step of writing a resume. In Chapter 2, you’ll learn how to organize both the content and the physical appearance. Chapter 3 contains over 65 sample resumes. Chapters 4 and 5 contain detailed fact sheets to help you get down to the business of writing your resume. Chapter 6 deals with special problems that older job applicants encounter. Chapter 7 covers other special categories of job seekers—re-entry workers, handicapped workers, executives and managers, and new graduates. Chapter 8 shows you how to write an effective cover letter, something that is every bit as important as writing your resume. And Chapter 9 shows you how to put the finishing touches on your resume.