Q & A about resumes, part 2

Last August I wrote an entry concerning Q & A about resumes.  Because this is a busy time of the year where many people are actively seeking new opportunities, I wanted to take some time to address several more commonly asked resume questions.

Q: What is the purpose of the resume?

A: People don’t hire resumes, they hire people.  The main focus of a resume is to get the interview.  Once you’re at the interview, then that is where you get the job.  There are certainly other ways to get an interview besides just sending in a resume, and personal networking is always the best method.  If you can secure most of your interviews this way, then it lessens the importance of the resume and also helps your overall chances of landing a new position.

Q: Do I need to list an objective at the top of the resume?

A: This is a personal preference, not an absolute.  If you choose to do an objective-based resume, it is important to make sure that everything on the resume supports the objective.  Think of it similarly to how many of us learned in our old high school English courses about thesis statements.  Everything in the body of the paper must support it. This means that you may need to take off some older non-related work experience or other items such as hobbies/interests.

Q: How much contact information do I need to list?

A: First and last name, address, phone, and e-mail are the basic four things you need.  While this would seem easy to follow, I’m amazed at how difficult so many candidates make this.  First off, if the name you go by is different than your given name, I’d still list the name you go by to keep it simple.  Don’t confuse needing your resume to be a legal document.  Also, as for your phone number, you don’t need to list a home and cell.  Just list the number they can reach you at.  Preferably this should be your cell and remember to have an appropriate and professional sounding voice mail message, too.  Your e-mail address should be something like first name.last name @gmail.com or yahoo.com.  I would highly recommend staying away from the crazy ones like petlover99@catsanddogs.com.  Similar to the voice mail, you want every part of your search to be straight forward and professional.

Q: Should I include my references with the resume?

A: I would not give them unless asked.  Instead I would simply put a line at the bottom of your resume that says “References available upon request.”  But you should have them readily available.  Preferably you want to have a separate attachment with three to five professional references that should include supervisors and peers.

Q: Should I list a skills section on the resume?

A: For many careers this can be a nice way to highlight your skills and abilities more in-depth.  Doing so can be a very effective way to further demonstrate your aptitudes and complement your experience.

Again, I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  If you have additional questions, please feel free to send me a note or respond in the comments section.

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