Impressive Resume Makes A Good First Impression

Most women are familiar with the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When crafting a resume, you should keep that expression in mind.

There’s little doubt that once you get through the door, the interview process becomes the single most important element of the job-seeking process. But it’s the resume that opens that door. It’s a document that summarizes your education, accomplishments, goals and skills in one tight package. A resume alone won’t land a job. It should, in fact, be considered a success if it doesn’t exclude you from being a candidate for that job. It’s your pathway toward the interview and one misstep in the resume can trip you up.

Whether you’re writing your first resume or updating it for the 15th time, it may seem like a daunting task; but you don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to pull off a well-written and well-organized resume. In fact, when putting together your resume, don’t even think like the famous Harry Potter author or any other famous writer. A resume is not your freshman English paper. Word usage, punctuation, grammar and spelling are all important, of course, but the resume is a business document that should outline, summarize and follow a reader-friendly format with brevity. Long-winded ramblings that include every accomplishment from your first lemonade stand to your sorority chapter presidency aren’t necessary.

So then, what is necessary in pulling off a successful, polished resume? Here are five pointers to keep in mind:

Don’t trust yourself: This author once saw the word “addition” included in the experience section of a resume. Problem was, the job seeker meant to use the word “edition,” referring to a particular publication. Ouch! Always get a second or even third pair of eyes to read your resume. Needless to say, spelling errors, bad grammar and typing mistakes can sink your job-searching ship before it leaves the dock. Fortunately, there are more liberties when writing an article about winning resumes.

Go beyond the paper: It used to be easy to format your resume. Type it out on a white piece of paper with the proper margins and, viola, you’re done. Maybe that’s the way your mother did it, but this is the 21st century and the Internet controls everything. Paper still flies, but resumes have to be prepared to be emailed and posted on the Internet. Not all resumes are created equal. The resume you create with MS Word or on your Mac can look very different to the receiver if it’s not formatted properly. In today’s high-tech world, consider having three versions of your resume, including one that’s printable, one that can be scanned and one that can be emailed. Consider flash or web resumes as well, which add a touch of flair while maintaining a sense of professionalism.

Custom comfort: The objective when sending a resume is to connect with an employer, and not all employers are created alike. Your skills may qualify you for a variety of industries, so customize it in a way that relates to a particular job. You don’t have to rewrite your entire resume depending on a particular job posting, but streamline and maneuver some of the key points so they address the requirements an employer requires.

Service with a smile: If you don’t have the time or confidence to produce your own resume, there are plenty of services that can help. If you can’t express your skills and abilities on paper, find a service that has a track record of bringing out the best in employee resumes. A quality service should be experienced and offer a personalized resume. It should offer samples of resumes and cover letters. Also, there’s no reason to stay local with the Internet at your fingertips. Retaining a resume service is something that can be done using the computer, phone and email. So compare the national services and how they stack up against each other.

Is High-Tech Leaving Women Behind?

With personal computers and cell phones, Blackberry’s and iPods, it seems there’s no stopping the world from going high-tech. The question is: are women coming along for the ride?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent report revealed that while high-tech jobs over the past decade have seen considerable growth, the gender disparity has remained higher than in the majority of the corporate world. 

The surge of software, wireless and Internet technologies has created an entirely new labor pool. But it goes beyond computers and cell phones. Workers with backgrounds in engineering, math and science are also considered to have technology-oriented jobs.  A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that by this year, there would be 21.5 million American workers performing high-tech jobs. And by the year 2014, network systems and data communication analysts are projected to increase by 55%, the second fastest growing occupation behind home health care aides.

According to statistics published by Labor Dept. report, women made up just one in 10 engineers and two of 10 engineering technologists and technicians. The numbers were higher in the computer field, with women representing three out of every 10 systems analysts. Female scientists also made up 30% of their field.

So, what does all this mean for women? It means the opportunity is there, but is the interest? Technology has been stereotyped as a field that’s for geeks and is far from being glamorous. But is the disparity caused by women’s lack of interest in the disciplines normally associated with the high-tech industry or is it related to a corporate culture and work/life issues. Experts agree that it’s a combination of both.

“Stories of women’s lack of representation in the technology field abound,” says Cindy Royal, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who held positions at Compaq Computer and NCR Corporation. “The ouster of Carly Fiorina [in 2005] as Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard has brought increased attention to the death of women technology executives.”

The Fiorina story stood out in business circles because she was one of the few top executives running a major technology corporation. The industry has fewer women than the broader corporate world, according to the 2005 Spencer Stuart Silicon Valley index. The survey reported that of the high-tech companies surveyed, just 11 percent had two women in board seats, compared to 88 percent of companies in the S&P 500 having at least one woman director.

When fewer women are seen in leadership roles, it’s bound to have an adverse affect on recruiting more women into the world of technology.  Experts conclude that in order to break down barriers, developing talent, mentoring, networking and creating environments that relate to women’s work/life sensibilities are necessary to reverse the trend.

Royal, who has studied the effects of the Internet on communication and culture, said in her 2005 article that the socialization of women toward high-tech has to start early.

“A parallel strategy might be to increase the offering of technical skills in disciplines ‘where the girls are’ … or those in which women are already highly represented, such as communications, liberal arts and library science,” said Royal.

Correcting Course With a Career Change

For most women, it’s quite common to fantasize about trying out a different career. In fact, studies show that one-third of the American workforce often thinks seriously, during a given year, about leaving their jobs.

The focus of a career change typically centers around a vocation you’ve always been interested in, but could never follow through on pulling the trigger. Maybe you sell insurance, but have always wanted to be a veterinarian. Or you’re in public relations and thought law school was your true calling. Whatever the case, the first major step toward changing careers is a heavy dose of self-analysis.

If taking a chance on another career has become a priority, then it should be a dream job of sorts, or fairly close to it. There are dozens of reasons why people shift gears when it comes to their careers. Some become bored, unfulfilled and lack the motivation they once had in their current job. Others do it to make more money or to fulfill a lifelong dream.

There are no age restrictions when it comes to changing careers, but the most common time it occurs for a woman is in her 40s or 50s, when incentives are different than earlier in life.

“Career transitions at midlife are very different from those we make in our twenties and thirties,” writes Ellen Ostrow, a PhD and career coach. “The recognition of our mortality diminishes the importance of status success, money, and meeting the expectations of others.”

One of the first steps to take is deciding if career change is really what you desire. A lousy boss and lack of motivation doesn’t always require finding a new career. Finding a way to carve out new challenges within the same industry is a good jumping off point. If that fails, however, start preparing yourself for the transition. And preparation is the key word.

Start by analyzing your functional skills and experience to determine how they would apply to a new career. Make sure you repackage these skills to fit the new field. If you don’t have the proper skills and returning to school is necessary, finding time will be the major stumbling block. Make sure you’re committed to the new career before making the leap.

A revamped resume is needed to avoid the mistake that many midlife career jumpers make of assuming the same resume will work in their new career. The experience you’ve had in your current job may not be as important in your new field. Instead, rework your resume to highlight the qualifications that will target the new career. Employers looking to hire someone who doesn’t have the work history in their particular field want an employee with skills that can easily translate.

While you’re still in the transition mode, do what you can to start that second career, whether it involves working part-time a few nights a week or doing volunteer work. Make sure, however, that you don’t commit so much time and energy toward this parallel career that it has a negative impact on your full-time job. Even if you plan on changing careers, you don’t want to antagonize your current employer or burn any bridges.

Once the self-evaluation, resume and experience are in order, do the research. Put together as much information as possible about the career – or careers – you’re interested in. Find out pay levels and current trends in that industry. Talk to friends, coworkers and experts in the field. In the age of the Internet, career information is unlimited.

Leaving your current career can create a fear of the unknown. Don’t let that stop you. It’s more important to take risks and try to achieve what you want out of your work life than staying in a job that is unfulfilling.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, 20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.


Read more articles from Teena Rose