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Resume Advice






Do I need an objective?
I need to do my resume, but I am not sure what kind of job I want. Can you help me with my objective? Do I need one? My friend who used to be my supervisor in my old job told me that I don't. Is she right? There are many opinions on the subject. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Either use the same resume with different objectives on each to show career focus. Or, indicate that you are seeking a position in a certain area, followed by "titles of interest include project manager, field service technician, and crew supervisor". See how to use a resume title instead of an objective. View our portfolio of resume samples

Unclear objective 
Many job seekers choose to leave off an objective to avoid limiting themselves to one position. By leaving the decision to an employer, your resume might get tossed. Remember, listing your objective is the courteous thing to do. It saves a hiring manager a lot of time by taking the guesswork out of deciding what you want to do.
Mention what you can do for an employer, not what the employer can do for you. 
Don't write: "Seeking a position utilizing my experience, skills, and education offering career growth potential."
Do write: "Seeking a position in sales or customer service where five years of related experience in pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries will be of value." 

How do I put my resume on the Internet?
Many companies and job banks require that you fill out an on-line form or paste an ASCII version of your resume. Few will accept an email attachment. Copy and paste your resume into the "Paste Here" box on most job search sites, or fill in the forms. In either case, you will need to set up an account providing a user name and password. Visit the Riley Guide for more on this subject.

How do I create a plain text resume?
Many companies and job banks require a plain text or ASCII resume. This format is void of all formatting. But, there are lots of tricks to jazz it up. Perform the Save As function to convert your formatted resume to a text file. You will be prompted that your resume will lose all formatting. Choose OK.  You will now have a plain text version of your resume. You must rearrange the information if it becomes disorganized. Visit the Riley Guide for more on this subject.

Should I bring my cover letter to the interview? 
Don't bring your cover letter. Its purpose is to introduce you in your absence, communicate your interest in a position or company, summarize/highlight your experience, explain your situation, and request an interview.  However, do bring prints of your resume to the interview. Before the interview begins, announce, "Here are prints of my resume. I thought you might want to have them." That way the manager will have a good print to review, and to pass onto other managers, just in case he/she only has a faxed copy. View our cover letter samples and read our confidence-building article on interviewing.

Resume samples --can they really help me?
Resume samples can help in many ways. Viewing many different resume samples can give you ideas on resume layout, resume strategy, and resume keywords in general and for your specific field. Resume examples can also save you a lot of time and money. Using a professional resume writer is by far the best way to go when choosing to have your resume developed because they have the specialized skill and knowledge to identify your unique accomplishments that will give you a competitive edge in today's job market. But, as with most valuable services, you will need to pay for professional resume writing services. If you are a good writer, understand your professional strengths, and know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for so you can make a connection in your resume between their needs and your qualifications, then using resume samples would probably prove to be just what you need. But how do you find high quality resume samples? The best way is to search the Internet and resume sample books. It is highly recommended to search for sample resumes in your field. When you have written your own resume Order our resume critique report to get a comprehensive evaluation and supporting materials to help you improve your resume. With this detailed resume critique by a professional resume writer, you will receive a sample resume for your occupation along with resume templates to write your own resume!

What words do I use? 
Always use industry specific jargon and terminology if you are targeting a specific industry. If not, use more general terms understood by all. Action verbs can significantly add punch to your resume. For example, Managed, Planned, Developed, Implemented, Evaluated, Supervised, and Expedited. Omit pronouns such as "I, he, she, his, her, their, and they".

What categories do I use?   
If you do not have professional experience, use "Work History, Relevant Experience, or Related Experience." Don't be afraid to use sub-headings to expand the categories.. You do not need to use the heading "Objective" to include an objective! You can use a title, otherwise known as a Title Heading. You can add a statement immediately following, without using the headings "Summary" or "Profile". To see examples of how to use a title instead of an objective, visit our resume formats page and then view our resume samples to get ideas.  

Caught without a resume when opportunity knocks
Sometimes opportunity knocks when we least expect it. So, what if you are faced with an opportunity to interview, or to apply for a position, but you don't have a resume? Or your resume needs to be updated. You are better off doing something rather than nothing. Here are a few quick suggestions that might help . . . Fax a letter, call, or email the appropriate person to explain the scope of your background. Express a strong interest in the position, and promise to provide a resume within a week for their files. If you have a good resume that is less than two years old, fax or email it before the interview with a letter explaining your most recent experience and accomplishments.

What should I do after the interview?
Send a thank you letter to each person that interviewed you. This should be done within a day or two. Be sure to mention something discussed about your experience and qualifications in relation to the position. Remember, you will most likely be one of several candidates. Unless they have made a decision to hire you already, you might not be on their mind. If the company does not contact you in more than a week, send a follow up letter to remind them of your interest in the position. These efforts can be especially effective if the hiring decision has not been made yet. It will set you apart from the other candidates who do not follow up. Before you go on your interview, read our confidence-building article on interviewing.

Should I put clip art or a logo on my resume?
Sometimes we want to add something extra to our resume to make it standout in a pile. Consider using a border or shading when clip art is inappropriate. If these suggestions are unacceptable, try designer resume paper. Consider the position and field. For example, it is okay for an elementary education teacher to use clip art on their resume, but not for a secondary elementary education teacher. Using a MSCE logo for an IT resume is acceptable.

Returning to the workforce
It's important to remember how valuable you were before you left. Brush up on your  computer skills, and go on interviews to practice for the big one! But most of all, don't apologize to anyone. Don't assume that someone has a problem with the fact that you've been away. Maybe you don't have certain skills, but you do have a lot of knowledge, great attributes, and ability to learn, right?

Use a combination resume format to emphasize your experience and accomplishments and personal strengths. This strategy will immediately communicate what you have done and are able to do, while de-emphasizing the break in employment. If it has been about ten years, research current terminology and key words for that industry. Resume Tip: do not include personal data and unrelated hobbies on your resume unless it is relevant.

Do I fold or staple the resume and cover letter?
Do not fold, clip, or staple! Unfolding the resume is clumsy, and the information is not viewed 100% at a glance. You want your presentation to be received neatly. Place the letter on top, and insert into a flat 9X12 white envelope. In the light, you should see the letter through the back of the envelope. When the reader opens the envelope, they won't have to flip it over.

Career change / Career transition
If you are starting a new career, you are probably nervous about being rejected or unqualified, right? Relax, take a deep breath, and take stock in your qualifications. Make a list of your TRANSFERABLE skills and attributes that would be useful in a new position.
Career Advice: Consider volunteering for a position of interest. This is a great way to explore your options to decide if you really want to work in a certain capacity. In the meantime, you'll gain experience that you can list on your resume!

Having held various positions can be advantageous when putting your resume together. If you installed and repaired satellite dishes, worked as a waiter, and volunteered at a crisis center, you might be well suited for a new career as a computer technician or a help desk support professional. Maybe all you would need is some training, a diploma, or a certification. Resume Tip: Use a combination format to show that your are technically inclined and that you have excellent customer service skills by providing examples on problem assessment and troubleshooting. Use heading such as Customer Service and Project Highlights. 

Lack of paid experience 
Unpaid experience is still experience. Employers honor internships, volunteer work,  independent research, and academic projects. Convey it as solid experience without apologizing, and it will be received as such. List it on your resume under "Related Experience". Use phrases such as "Gained valuable experience in..." or "Completed six months of research on the effects of..."  Note: Ask key people for letters of recommendation to display in a portfolio (binder or folder).

Too many unrelated jobs   
It depends on the position you are targeting. Today's employers seek candidates that are capable of wearing many hats. However, it is favorable to show a career focus, and strength in certain areas. Use a combination format to categorize your experience and accomplishments. This layout categorizes WHAT you are able to do, while de-emphasizing the frequent changes in career choices. View our portfolio of resume samples and read our resume writing articles for ideas on formats and strategies.. 

New graduate without internships
To employers, the most important value is the experience gained by working in the real world. For this reason, many schools offer co-op programs allowing stu