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The top 5 things that should always be on a resume

The top 5 things that should always be on a resume

You’ve uploaded your resume to all the job sites you could think of. You’ve also been applying to companies directly and still have not received any responses. You eventually tell yourself that maybe you’re not experienced enough, or maybe the position has been filled. Both of those things could be true, or it could be that even though you meet all of the criteria in your head, you are missing key elements on your resume.

The truth about reviewing resumes that you’ll rarely hear is that the first thing most employers do is perform a process of elimination. When employers receive hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, they have to pick the ones that immediately meet certain criteria. No matter how skilled you are, if your resume does not display that, it will be eliminated. When uploading your resume to any online platform or sending it out to a potential employer, you want to ensure two major things.

  • Your resume comes up in keyword searches
  • Your resume has all the required information upfront

Here are the top 5 things that should always be on a resume.

1. Professional Objective

The professional objective outlines the type of role you are looking for. Briefly, outline the position or role that you are interested in. You should also include any work experience that will be vital to the role or company. Very often professional objectives are utilized when you are changing careers or if you have little experience in the industry you are targeting. For example, an entry-level professional would definitely want to include a professional objective on their resume.

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Example: Seeking an Administrative Assistant position in the bookkeeping industry where I can utilize my office management, communication, and record-keeping skills to contribute to the success of a prospective employer.

2. Career Overview

The Career overview outlines your roles and job descriptions. Most employers like to skim through resumes until they see what they are looking for. While your job titles and job descriptions may have everything an employer needs, it’s better to provide a nice highlight of your career. If someone is skimming resumes for the most qualified candidate, seeing a really nice career overview will make them more interested in reviewing the entire resume. The career overview section is very key for experienced professionals. In most cases, your resume may be more than one page so it’s vital that you give an overview.

Example: Technology professional, with 10 years in the Software testing industry. Experience includes but is not limited to, Ad Server testing, Analytics testing, Video Player testing, Pharma, Oil & Gas, and SaaS platforms testing experience.

3. Education

Many job descriptions still include educational requirements even for experienced professionals. So it’s important to include your educational experience on your resume so that it is not overlooked. Educational experience includes but is not limited to, GED, High School Diploma, College Degree, and Certifications.

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Example:

EDUCATION
Johnson & Wales University
B.S. Information Science
A.S. Applied Computer Science

CERTIFICATION
Certified Scrum Master

4. Memberships

If you have any memberships that are vital to your industry or a particular job, include them on your resume. Employers like to see that you are active in your industry and that you are trying to make a difference. This is something that definitely sets you aside from the competition. Being a member of any relevant organization keeps you ahead of the curve in your job search, as you have access to all of their resources and networks. Employers who are trying to innovate look for things like that specifically.

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Example:

MEMBERSHIPS
Scrum Alliance

5. Summary of Skills

This is the best part! It’s the part where you get to outline your hands-on knowledge. While your job descriptions in the ‘experience’ section have all the tools you’ve used buried in them, the ‘summary of skills’ section lays them out. This is a very important section, so you must be sure that you include all industry relevant tools and knowledge. In order to be sure what you should and shouldn’t list, you should do a google search for the most used tools in your industry.

Example:
Operating Systems: Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac Os
Databases: MySQL Workbench, Oracle11g, MongoDB
Programming Languages: Javascript, HTML, Java

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The key to a great resume is creating a great foundation. After that, the rest is history.

Featured photo credit: LEEROY Agency via pixabay.com

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Aqueelah Emanuel

Founder of AQ's Corner

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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