Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Impressions Part One: The Professional Resume

You may have wondered where part one went. Well here it is:
(Part Two is here: Creative Resumes)

This is part one of a two-part series on resumes. There are countless different ways you can format your resume, depending on who you are and what you do. Remember: when applying for a job, your resume is often the first impression that the employer will have about you.

Today's entry by Neal F. Litherland

With the job market the way it is today, everyone's feeling the squeeze. Those whose work depends on their creativity to stand out though may feel as if they've been hit particularly hard. Whether you're looking for work as a freelancer, or you're trying to grab one of the spots as a regular employee in your craft, the first thing your prospective employers are going to measure you by is your resume'. For many of us, that's a good thing, but for the rest, here's a few tips about cleaning up your first impression.

First and foremost, make sure that you're using proper format. All your contact information at the top, then your education, and finish up with your work experience, no more than two pages, but aim for one. It should be obvious, but it's worth mentioning here... do not get fancy with your resume'. Whether you're a graphic artist or a novelist, keep your resume' straight and to the point. Given that creativity and imagination can't be measured, part of what your job rides on is how professional the impression you give is... no non-standard fonts, colored texts, or pink paper.

Now for the other half of the equation... content. Do not include anything that doesn't seem relevant. If you attended multiple colleges to get your degree, just put where you graduated from to streamline things. For your work experience, first list everything you've done. Then look at the job you're applying for. Cut out everything that doesn't seem relevant. With what's left, pick and choose what to include. Things to keep in mind might be the past employer's opinion of you and your work, how recently that experience is, and whether or not the work was paid.

Of course, what this might mean is re-tooling your resume' every time you apply for a job. With exceptions, that is usually true. If you keep applying for similar jobs with similar requirements, then you're fine. However, taking a little extra time to make sure you look like solid gold to your next prospective boss is probably a good idea, no matter the circumstances.