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Lesson 1: Why You Need a Resume

Why you need a resume

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Finding employment can be challenging for anyone, but the job market can be especially tough for recent college graduates, people re-entering the workforce after time away, or someone who has been in a position for a long time. Competition is stiff; the market is filled with other strong job candidates, too. So how can you increase your chances for getting a great job in the field you love? For almost everyone, it starts with a resume.

In this lesson, you will understand what a resume is and the various ways in which it is used. We will also explore what information is contained in a resume.

Watch the video below to learn about the types of information that a typical resume contains.

What is a resume?

Whenever you apply for a professional-level position, you will likely be asked to submit a resume. Hiring managers look closely at certain resumes to see if a candidate is a good match for their open position.

A resume is a document that tells prospective employers exactly what you want them to know about you and why you would be a good fit for their open position. It should advertise your skills in an easy-to-read, logical, and concise format. Its purpose is as follows:

  • Hiring managers use resumes to screen potential employees. They typically look at a resume for less than 15 seconds before deciding which pile to put it in. The No pile ends up in the recycle bin. The Yes pile gets a second look, and possibly an interview.
  • For you, a resume is a tool that's designed to get you to the next step in the employment process: the interview. It can even help you prepare for the interview by giving you specific items to practice talking about.

Think of your resume as your very own 30-second commercial spot. Hopefully, you catch the hiring manager's attention within the first five seconds so she'll keep reading. Otherwise, your resume may end up in the No pile.

Why is a resume important in the job search?

Most hiring mangers will tell you that they use a resume as a screening tool to select which candidates to interview and which to rule out. Some hiring managers perform this screening themselves, but many let someone else—even a computer—do the screening for them!

Did you know that some hiring managers may scan more than 100 resumes to fill just one position? This means a hiring manager may only spend a few seconds scanning each one. Obviously, you'll want to make your resume worth a closer look!

A resume provides the hiring manager with his or her very first impression of you. A well-written one could be your ticket into an interview. You can use it before an interview to help you prepare your answers to the questions you expect to get, and it can even help you during the interview by giving you a way to direct the flow of questions.

What should you include on a resume?

Each resume has its own layout, format, look, and feel. However, every resume should contain the same basic types of information.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about what to include on a resume.

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Let's review

A resume is a document that you put together to sell your skills and experience to a hiring manager when you are trying to get a specific job. Hiring managers scan numerous resumes to find the few candidates who most closely match the needs of their organizations. They usually meet with these candidates for interviews to determine which candidate to hire.

The same basic information should be included on each resume, regardless of which resume format is used. The information you should include is:

  • Your Contact Information, so a hiring manager can easily get in touch with you if needed.
  • A Professional Summary, sometimes called a profile, that gives the hiring manager a glimpse of your skills and accomplishments.
  • Your Employment History, which should provide specific details about the accomplishments and successes you've had in your previous jobs. It always includes the names and locations of the employer, and should include a job title that is generally understandable. Dates are often included in this section, although you may want to omit them if you have gaps in your employment history.
  • Your Education information, which should include the certifications or degrees you have earned, the institutions from which you earned them, and the dates they were awarded.
  • Any Additional Skills and Information that highlight any technical or specialized skills you have that are applicable to the position.

Resources

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