13 “Must Follow” Resume Tips

The resume is one of the most important documents you’ll write. It’s your admission ticket to a job interview. People have different ideas on what makes a great resume, but here are some basic tips that everyone follows. Use these strategies to write a resume. Meet with a CPCC career counselor to receive feedback on ways to market your skills and qualifications.

1. Check for typos. Don’t rely on spell check. Hint: Read the resume backwards (bottom to top, end of lines to the beginning). You’ll focus on individual words and more easily catch mistakes.

2. Use a consistent, professional font style. Top choices  include Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman and Verdana. It should be easy on the eyes and look professional, not fancy or flashy.

3. Keep the font sizes consistent. Whatever font size you use for one category title should be used for all. Keep font sizes consistent for each entry.  Don’t choose a size smaller than 11 point font.

4. List important items on the left side of the page. Employers’ eyes zero in on the left side of the page when they glance at a resume. Job titles, degree and skills should appear on the left. Entries such as dates of employment, locations for past employers and graduation date can appear further to the right side of the page.

5. Use bullet points. Avoid long paragraph descriptions. Bullet points help the employer quickly glance through the resume.

6. Nix the “I” statements. Complete sentences aren’t necessary; start with action verbs. Instead of “I was responsible for increasing floor sales by 50%,” say “Increased floor sales by 50%.”

7. Keep it to one page. Employers are short on time so one page resumes work best. A two page resume might be okay if you have extensive relevant experience. Resumes exceeding two pages won’t catch an employer’s eye.

8. Don’t get wordy. Focus on relevant information rather than telling your entire employment history. Too many words is a visual turnoff that causes employers to move to the next applicant.

9. Focus on the past 10 years. Unless the jobs are particularly relevant, only list those from the past 10 years. If you’ve worked for one company for longer than ten years, list the job but not dates of employment.

10. Target the resume to the job/industry. Nothing turns an employer off more than receiving a resume that’s clearly been sent to multiple job openings in different industries. Quickly updating your objective or career summary easily targets the resume to a specific job or company.

11. Use bold and capital letters wisely.  Bold font and ALL CAPS help break up the presentation. Remember to be consistent: If you bold one job title, bold all of them. If the EDUCATION category title is capitalized, do the same with the other category titles.

12. Include an appropriate email address. Use your student email address or set up a job search email account that uses a combination of your name as the address. Fun addresses (partypal@hotmail.com) send the wrong message about your professionalism.

13. List contact information at the top of the page. Include your name, mailing address, phone number and email address. Put your name in slightly larger bold font

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a…

Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day is celebrated every April. Participating companies encourage employees to bring their children to work and let them see a day at the office in action. Many companies organize events designed to introduce kids to different departments and careers.

Think back to your childhood, when you were asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?” Did you want to be a doctor, teacher, pro athlete, astronaut, or singer? Or did you aspire to more fantastic career goals such as princess, pirate or superhero?

Your current career goals are probably quite different than your dreams as a kindergartner. But LinkedIn published a report in 2012 that showed the influence childhood dream jobs can have. A survey of more than 8,000 professionals found that while less than 10% were working in their childhood dream job, over 20% said they worked in a career that relates to their dream job.

So don’t dismiss those youthful ambitions just yet.

Here’s the top 10 list from the survey:

Top Childhood Dream Jobs for Women

1. Teacher

2. Veterinarian

3. Writer (journalist or novelist)

4. Doctor, nurse or EMT

5. Singer

Top Childhood Dream Jobs for Men       

1. Athlete

2. Pilot

3. Scientist

4. Lawyer

5. Astronaut

While the exact job title might have changed, what still may linger are the interests and work personality. The childhood astronaut may want a career as an adult that is challenging, adventurous and inquisitive. The preschool veterinarian might pursue a career where being able to care for others in need is a priority.

The following exercises might help connect your childhood to current career pursuits and uncover some patterns to consider:

1. Write down the jobs you found interesting as a child, including ideas you had as a middle and high school student. Do the jobs share any patterns or similarities?

2. List careers you were exposed to as a child, through your family and media (television, movies, books). Which ones look both appealing and uninteresting? Write down your reasons for each.

3. Identify your dream job(s) that you have today. When we’re grownups, we have more external factors that influence career decisions (salary, job security, benefits, required training, etc.). Set those aside for a minute and let your imagination run.

If you’re having difficulty making career decisions, career counselors can help. Schedule an appointment to talk about career options that make sense now. You may be surprised how much as a kid you already knew!




Don’t overlook the importance of volunteering in the job search

April is National Volunteer Month. On any given day millions of people donate their time and skills to companies and organizations. Whether it’s long-term volunteer commitments or one day events, volunteering positively impacts everyone involved.

It also positively impacts a job search. While you don’t earn a paycheck from your volunteer experience, research shows that volunteering can increase employment opportunities. Here’s why:

  • Showcasing your skills set.  Volunteering lets you put your skills to use in an actual work setting. The duties and responsibilities become resume content and job interview topics.
  • Acquiring new skills. A volunteer position is a great place to try new skills you’ve never used before. The accountant who thinks he might want to work with kids? Volunteering to tutor in an after-school program offers an inroad to developing the necessary skills.
  • Introduction to new career options.  The best way to learn about career possibilities is seeing them first hand. Many organizations representing many different industries utilize volunteers. This can be a great way to try a job setting before committing to it.
  • Staying connected to the world of work. Whether you’re donating your time to an animal shelter or an environmental organization, you’re in engaged in the world of work. This benefit is especially helpful for job seekers who have recently been laid off. When you begin your job search, prospective employers prefer candidates who have remained involved.
  • Meeting people. Networking is a key component to any job search. Many jobs are not found through online job boards, but rather word of mouth. Volunteers for one organization have many professional backgrounds. Strike up a conversation with the volunteer next to you. You never know where it could lead.
  • An outlet for demonstrating you’re motivated and hard working. You aren’t getting paid for your efforts. If that doesn’t show your commitment, what will? Prospective employers look for candidates who possess a solid work ethic. Volunteer work catches employers’ eyes for this reason.
  • Feeling productive. Being engaged and productive increases your motivation level. Job searching is an exhausting process. Volunteering is a great energy boost to help continue the job search. For this reason, and all the reasons mentioned above, you should actually view it as a step of the job search process rather than an extracurricular activity.

Where to find volunteer opportunities

www.volunteermatch.org   (Volunteer Match, Charlotte)

www.handsoncharlotte.org (Hands On Charlotte)

www.cpcc.edu/service-learning  (CPCC Service Learning)