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Importance of a Quality Resume

Updated on July 10, 2011

The importance of a good, concise resume that stands out cannot be overstated. In a fast-paced world where first impressions are made in what amounts to a fleeting moment, the first impression that is your resume can mean the difference between getting a call for an interview and having it thrown in the trash. In an internet-connected world, the online resume has also taken hold. But regardless as to whether your resume in on paper or on the Web, the impression you make with your resume a vital one.

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Why Is the Resume So Important?

To understand the importance of the resume, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Imagine that you have a job opening and you want to hire the best person for the job. Now imagine that you receive resumes from a dozen, perhaps even 50 applicants. You have a job that needs to be filled, but is currently vacant. For every day that you leave that position vacant, work that needs to get done isn't getting done. No problem, right? After all you have 50 people that are aching to fill that position. All you've got to do is find out who of those 50 will be the best pick. While the best option would be to interview all 50 applicants, get to know them personally, conduct background checks on all of them and call all their past employers to see what kind of employee they'd be to you, time constraints make that scenario simply impossible. You need to weed out the dead wood, and you need to do it fast. Your first line of defense in narrowing down the field? The resume. A well put together resume tells you that the applicant cares enough to present themselves well -- at least on paper. Those who put together a poor resume must not care about the job that much, or at least that's the thought most hiring managers have. Resumes that don't stand out go straight to the garbage. Whatever is left is likely to get a quick skimming over. What the hiring manager is looking for now is qualifications. If you don't have them, in to the garbage your resume goes. Of those remaining, a more thorough overview is taken. Who has the most impressive accomplishments? Who has the most experience related to the position? Who has the best education? Several will naturally float to the top of the stack, and it's those names that will get the call for an interview. If you're one of them, you've only made it past the first step. Now it's time to prepare for the interview. But that's an entirely separate article. First, let's make sure that your resume is the one that floats to the top.


Resume Formatting Tips

Now that you know what a hiring manager is looking for, the task at hand is to make sure you present that information to him or her in a way that they are able to easily pick up on it. All resumes have (or should have) the same basic information. One of the most important is contact information. This means your name, phone number, email address, and physical address. While contact information is vitally important, having it won't stop your resume from going in the trash upon first look. That's where the remaining information comes into play. We're talking qualifications, work history, education, major accomplishments, and so on.

Qualifications

So let's talk qualifications for a moment. If the company you're applying for a job at provided a list of qualifications, you need to let them know that you meet them. Let them know that you have that degree in communications, five years of work experience, are familiar with specific software tools, and go on to mention additional experiences that both further qualify you for the job and show that you have more value to bring to the company. A common practice is to place a short qualifications paragraph right at the top. That way, a hiring manager will be able to see quickly and easily what you have to bring to the table. Other hiring managers might look specifically at your work history and education to see if you meet qualifications, so don't forget to repeat these items in their appropriate locations under the headers of "Experience" or "Work History" and "Education".

Experience

Now let's move on to your work experience. What do people want to see there? Well, if you're applying for a job as a graphics designer, they aren't going to care that you spent a summer in Hawaii picking pineapples, so don't include it. The only exception to this rule is if your experiences there somehow apply to making you a better designer. Don't forget to state that fact, as well as how, exactly, your experiences make you more qualified. People aren't going to inherently know how picking pineapples makes you a better designer. The above noted exception aside, only list past work history that specifically gave you experiences that will help you in your new position. You'll also want to mention any major accomplishments you had while there. These help to express the type of worker you are: a hard-working one. A good example would be someone applying for a retail management position at a printer shop. Perhaps you were a manager at an auto parts store. Your management experience clearly applies, but what about any other accomplishments? Perhaps you helped reduce employee turnover, increased sales a certain percentage, were recognized for outstanding service. Those are the obvious ones. But what does the accomplishment of being the top tire salesman tell somebody? Or how about the fact that you consistently made more related-item sales than others month to month? These seemingly unrelated accomplishments tell others that you have an understanding of the customer and their needs. And if you have that understanding, then you probably are able to tell others how to properly treat customers to improve sales. Even though the job you're applying for is in an unrelated industry, your accomplishments still bring value to the table. Now, if you're moving from retail management to manager of Zamboni drivers, being a top tire salesman probably doesn't bring as much value except to say that maybe you tried harder than other employees.


Education

This should be pretty straightforward. You went to school at a certain place during a certain time and either earned a degree or didn't. However, don't forget to mention any organizations you were a part of that will express your commitment levels and potential work ethic.

Remember, a resume is more than just your qualifications for a job on paper. It's your opportunity to create a great first impression

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