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Resume Writing Tips

Remember: a resume is a marketing piece intended to present you in the best possible light, for the purpose of obtaining a job interview. A resume is not just about past jobs it's about you, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs- especially the accomplishments that are relevant to the work you want to do next. A good resume predicts, for the hiring manager, how you might perform in that desired job.

1. List your technical knowledge first in an itemized fashion.
Use as many buzz words as reflect your work and school experience. List all operating systems and Unix flavours you know. List all programming languages and platforms with which you're experienced. List all software you've thoroughly used.

2. List your qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least.

3. Quantify your experience whenever possible.
Cite numerical figures, such as monetary budgets/funds saved, time periods/efficiency improved, lines of code written/debugged, numbers of machines administered/fixed, etc. which demonstrate progress or accomplishments due directly to your work.

4. Begin sentences with action verbs.
Portray yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets things done. To avoid confusion, stick with the past tense, even for descriptions of currently held positions.

5. Don't sell yourself short.
This is by far the biggest mistake for all resumes, technical and otherwise. Your experiences are worthy for review by hiring managers: treat you resume as an advertisement for yourself. Be sure to thoroughly "sell" yourself by highlighting all of your strengths. If you've got a valuable asset which doesn't seem to fit into any existing components of your resume, list it anyway as its own resume segment.

6. Be Concise.
Avoid lengthy descriptions of whole projects of which you were only a part. Consolidate action verbs where one task or responsibility encompassses other tasks and duties.

7. Omit needless items.
Leave all of these things off your resume: social security number, marital status, health, citizenship, age, irrelevent awards, irrelevant associations and memberships, irrelevant publications, irrelevant recreational activities, a second mailing address ("permanent address" is confusing and should not be used), travel history, previous pay rates, previous supervisor names, reasons for leaving previous jobs, and components of your name which you really never use ( i.e. middle names).

8. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread.
Be sure to catch all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual punctuation, and inconsistent capitalizations.

9. Laser print it on plain, white paper.
Handwriting, typing, dot matrix, and even ink jet printing doesn't come across well. Stick with laser prints. Don't waste money on special bond paper, matching envelopes, or any colour deviances away from plain white paper, because your resume will be photocopied, faxed, and scanned numerous times, defeating any special paper efforts.

10. Job Objective.
Decide on a "Job Objective" that can be stated in five or six words. Anything longer than that begins to lose clarity and direction. A clear, well-stated goal doesn't have to confine you, but without clear direction employers won't be able to "categorize" you and will thusly dimiss your resume.

11. Gaps in your work experience.
General Rule: Tell what you were doing during that time. If you were doing anything valuable in that period of time, just insert it into the work-history section of your resume. For example:

1993-1994 Maternity leave.

994-1995 Travel and Study. (then list the courses or area of study).

12. Include "PAR" statements.
Fill your resume with "PAR" statements. PAR stands for Problem-Action-Results. In other words, state the problem that existed in your workplace; describe what you did about it; point to the beneficial results. Examples:

"Transformed a disorganized, inefficient warehouse into a smooth-running operation by totally redesigning the layout; this saved the company $250,000 in recovered stock."

"Improved an engineering company's obsolete filing system by developing a simple but sophisticated functional-coding system. This saved time and money by recovering valuable, previously lost, project records.

13. Job Title doesn't reflect actual level of responsibility.
When you list it on the resume, either replace it with a more appropriate job title or use their job title and your fairer one together.

14. Degrees and Credentials.
If you don't quite have your degree or credentials yet you can say something like:

Graduate studies in progresss.

Masters Degree anticipated May, 1998

If you received your degree from another country you can say something like: "Degree equivalent to Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science-Teheran, Iran.

15. What if you worked for only one employer an extended period of time?
List separately each different position you held there, so your job progression within the company is more obvious.

Interview Tips

Do's:
Do express yourself clearly with a strong voice and good diction and grammar.
Do pay close attention to your personal appearance; dress to your advantage.
Do offer a firm handshake.
Do look the interviewer in the eye (but don't stare him or her down).
Do display self-confidence.
Do display a sense of humor.
Do remember the interviewer's name and use it during the interview.
Do take the time to think before answering difficult or unexpected questions.

Don't:
Don't be overbearing- overaggressive- conceited.
Don't show a lack of interest or enthusiasm.
Don't condemn past employers. Keep comments positive.
Don't be indecisive.
Don't display intolerance or prejudice.
Don't be late to the interview.
Don't glorify your past experiences- getting into a job for which you are underqualified is not recommended.