Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Guest Post: Resume Writing Tips

I am pleased to present today's guest post by Zakia Johnson. We attended high school and college together. So when she announced that she will be offering resume writing consultations (resumedivaz@gmail.com ), I asked her to do a guest post. Here she shares her own experience and provides great resume writing tips!

Zakia Johnson is a counselor and adjunct faculty member at Howard Community College. Prior to joining the Howard Community College staff, she was employed at the University of Maryland Baltimore County as an academic advisor and program coordinator for the Erickson School where she assisted students in their academic, internship, and career development. She discovered her passion in student advocacy through her experiences as a student and staff member at the University of Delaware where she received her B.A in Criminal Justice/Sociology and her M.Ed. in College Counseling. Currently, she is actively pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. She also is an active member of the Maryland and Delaware communities through her work as a mentor for My Sister’s Circle (in Baltimore, MD), Chair of the Board of Directors for Teens In Perspective, Inc. (serving the entire state of Delaware), and an active alum serving on the University of Delaware Black Alumni Organization's Homecoming Committee. Zakia lives in Randallstown, MD with her husband and daughter. She is ecstatic to encourage, empower, and educate students, colleagues, and peers to be active and contributing citizens!
As we all know, the job market is suffering and the people of the United States are struggling even more. The unemployment rate is at an all time low (as of June 2011, 9.2% Ref.http://www.bls.gov/cps/ ). I personally experienced the devastating impact of being laid off. In May of 2009, I was laid off from my former employer due to budget cuts from the company funding our department. Many of us in education often assume that we will ALWAYS have a job. As an active and successful higher education administrator, I never thought in a million years that I would be without a job. Boy was I up for a rude awakening! I took the 9 months I was laid off to reflect on my personal and career goals, became an active volunteer for two non-profit organizations, and revamped my resume. I literally sent out over 100 resumes and cover letters to different higher education institutions for varying positions. I was perplexed as to why I only received a few phone interviews, a handful of on-campus interviews, and several rejection letters. Clearly I was well qualified and capable of being a successful employee for most if not all the positions I applied for. So, I decided to review my resume again and identify what I needed to allow my resume to stand out from the hundreds of resumes recruiters see on a daily basis.
Below are some of the tips/tricks I used to make myself marketable and I believe they can be useful for anyone currently job searching:
1. Use design that grabs attention
The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.

2. Create content that sells
Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive.

3. Tweak & target your resumes & cover letters
You will generate many more interviews by tweaking your resume and cover letter so that they address the specific skills each employer requests.

4. Spell Check & Proofread Grammar
I have been told by many recruiters and employers that they've passed on resumes that have grammar and spelling errors throughout the resume/cover letter. I strongly encourage you not only to use the spell check program in Word, but also go through your cover letters/resumes with a fine tooth comb to ensure there are no errors in either document--it could be the determining factor of whether you get an interview or not!
5. Consider a bulleted style to make your resume reader-friendly.
6. Don't stress yourself out by adhering to the one-page resume rule.
It's good to keep your resume to one page, if possible. But if you have a lot of experience, two pages may be more appropriate. If your resume spills beyond one page, but you have less than a half a page of material for the second page, it may be best to condense to one page.
7. Do NOT lie on your resume--the truth shall set you free!
8. Make sure that each page of your resume has your name on it.
Sometimes recruiters/employers/search committees can lose pages. I would recommend making your first and last name the header of each page after the first (since the first page should already have your name and contact info on it).
9. Do consider a section such as "Summary of Qualifications," or "Profile," which can also help sharpen your focus. Here is an example from my own resume:
Professional Profile
· Resourceful, creative problem-solver with proven aptitude to analyze and translate student development theories into practice.
· Proficient educator who has designed and implemented innovative approaches to student learning in traditional and non-traditional educational settings.
· Organized administrator with effective oral and written communication skills.
· Dynamic leader with the ability to articulate the varying approaches/models for multicultural education.
· Visionary professional with proven aptitude to develop and implement departmental short and long range goals.
· Collaborative team player with demonstrated ability to interact well with a diverse group of people at a local, national, or global level
· Efficient in Microsoft Program Use: PowerPoint, Word, and Excel
10. Be mindful of how you display professionalism in your resume--your first impression is often your last! 
Using your email address from college or high school (e.g. cutiepie19@hotmail.com or the mandingo92@yahoo.com ) is not displaying the best first impression. 
Remember, your resume is not the only tool to get you the job, but it will definitely assist in getting your foot in the door for the first interview...the rest is up to you and how you market yourself! 
If you are interested in having your resume and/or cover letter created/reviewed/revamped by Zakia Johnson, please send an email to resumedivaz@gmail.com.

Zakia Johnson, M.Ed.

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