"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Resumes: The Art of Packaging of What Ya Got. Whether you’re fresh out of school or have a work history as long as my leg, writing a great resume is vital. Writing a great resume can also be daunting. How does one package their career, part of their life’s history, into something compelling enough to make a manager feel you might be the right fit for his or her team? While ultimately your voice needs to come through your resume, we’ll go over some basic resume formats.

So, Vanna, if you please . . .

Basic Information:

Regardless of format every resume needs your contact information. Make sure the address listed is where you can most easily pick up your mail in case any paperwork needs to be mailed to you. Your phone number and professional e-mail should also be listed. Even if you don’t have Internet at home you should still have an e-mail set up. More and more companies are contacting applicants online, and application confirmations are also being sent electronically. Another thing to remember is to make sure your outgoing ring and voicemail message are professional sounding. No hiring manager is going to want to hear Justin Bieber’s newest smash hit or you yelling, “LEAVE ME A MESSAGE, YO!!”

Whether you center your contact message or left justify it, each bit of information should get its own line and your name should be bolded and one to two font sizes bigger than the rest of your resume. Getting your name stuck in their heads’ is important.

Lindsay Haugen

XXX Awesome Street

Anywhere, MN 56549

Types of Resumes:

Chronological. Pretty self-explanatory but this format lists all of your work and leadership experience in the order of most recent until your very first position. This is the most common and most preferred. It’s the easiest way to scan through someone’s work history to see how long they’ve been at each position or if there are any employment gaps.

Functional. This focuses more on skills and experience rather than listing a chronological work history. This is usually used by job seekers who are doing a career change or have significant employment gaps due to such things as going back to school or staying at home to raise a family.

Targeted. This is where you list key skills and experience geared towards a specific job posting before listing a chronological work history. This can be time-consuming because you have to really have to take a close eye to what a job posting is asking for to pull out key components of your past that will fit the bill.

Format Side Note:

Regardless of what format you use any collegiate experience should be listed. If you’re just out of high school and need a resume for either college or a job you’re applying to, you should list that. Otherwise, even if that is your highest degree earned, your high school graduation is probably not needed. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I feel that most hiring managers are going to assume a person has a high school diploma or GED.  Either way that information can be explained on an application.

Long story longer: Education can be listed at the beginning or end of a resume. If you’re fairly new out of school, I would list it at the beginning of your resume. Once a person hits right around the five year mark of being out school, education can move towards the end of your resume. Your graduation date can come off as well. In all candor, graduation dates are simple math gateways to how old a person is.

If you are still in college and starting to apply to jobs to get a jump on starting your career or if you’re near the end of obtaining an advanced degree, simply put “Expected graduation date May 2012”. Never list a degree until you have it in your hand.

True story: At a former job there was a situation where a person listed a degree thinking they had everything needed to graduate done only to find out a credit wasn’t completed, which actually caused their diploma to be pending until the issue was resolved. Talk about an awkward conversation AFTER the resume was submitted with a degree listed.

Whew! That was a mouthful! Hang in there. Once you get your information laid out, polishing it up will be a piece of cake. German chocolate . . . with that weird coconut frosting.

Next time we’ll cover some basic do’s and don’ts of resume writing.

Positive Thought of the Day:
“It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.” – Epictetus

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"Trying is the first step to failure." – Homer Simpson

Job hunting is a perpetual ego-kicking machine.

It doesn’t matter how many gold stars you received in school. Or, how many times your picture went up on the Employee of the Month wall. Unless you’re extremely lucky you’re bound to suffer through the sting of rejection at some point in your job search. Even the most talented, qualified, and experienced job seekers are told “no” sometimes.

Hopefully you have a strong sense of self, a healthy dose of self-confidence, and supportive people in your life. Rejection can still suck even if you’re armed with an arsenal of all three. It can shake us to the very core and cause us to question why we are even putting ourselves out there in the first place. We tell ourselves, “What’s the point? I might as well stay at my lousy job. At least it pays the bills.”

But, rejection does not have to be a job hunting death sentence. How does one pull themselves up by their proverbial boot straps?

I’m a big fan of lists. So, Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Admit that it sucks. You don’t have to rent a billboard. You don’t even have to tell your friends and family you received a rejection letter. In this day and age you don’t always receive that. You have every right to keep your lips sealed. What you need to do is reconcile any raw emotions you have with yourself. Moxie and gumption are great things, but it’s okay to say, “I’m angry/sad/frustrated/etc. I didn’t get that job. I think it would’ve been perfect for me.” Beating yourself up for being bummed is only going to make you feel worse.

2. Have a short memory. You feel bad. You realize you feel bad. Guess what? The sun will still come up tomorrow unless you’re Mayan and December 2012 is fast approaching. After drowning your sorrows in a vice of your choice throw that rejection letter in the trash. Open up the classified ads. That fantastic job isn’t going to wait for you to get back on your horse.

3. “Don’t drive angry” – Bill Murray, Groundhog Day. This may seem contradictory to point two, but make sure you are in the right frame of mind before you saddle up your horse again. Moping around for days isn’t going to help you, but neither is sending out applications when you feel dejected. I once sent off an application without proofreading at all because I was still reeling from a rejection letter I had received earlier in the day. At the time I didn’t see the point of putting my best foot forward since it didn’t seem to matter anyway. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And, doggonit, people like you. Remember that before clicking the submit button on your next application.

4. Take a closer look at your resume and cover letter. Rejection can be a push towards creativity. Whether you wrangle family, friend, foe, or you take a hard look yourself, make sure what you’re sending out is truly a great reflection of what you have to offer. I know rehashing through resumes and cover letters can be painstaking and mind-numbing, but it is completely necessary. Sometimes you have crafted a really good cover letter but a tweak to a word here or cutting out filler there can turn it from good to great. Sometimes you hit a patch of bad luck and a resume dipped in gold won’t do the trick. Just make sure you have laid all your cards on the table, including a well-polished cover letter and resume.

Always remember one positive thought each day: “Life only demands from you the strength you possess.”- Dag Hammarskjold

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

That’s what it feels like when entering the realm of job searching. Job hunting can wrench the gut of even the most experienced job seekers. Do not despair, friends. We can work (no pun intended) through the process together!

My two main goals of this blog are to be informative and encouraging. Looking for a new job; let alone finding a career, can be confusing, isolating and disheartening. I have waded through the drudgery of crafting resumes, trying on suits, and smiling through interviews. I feel your pain . . .

However, being in human resources, I have also sat through interviewees’ stories of cut up underwear (yep!), received applications completed with glitter pens, and Xeroxed notebook pages submitted as cover letters. My posts will hopefully offer some insight into the minds of those working through the hiring process as human resources (HR; I have been surprised at how many people do not what HR stands for) representatives. Maybe this insight will help smooth out some of the bumps in the road along the way to reaching your dream job.