The fall is here and it's time to head back to school! Sharpen your pencils, kids, because this year you'll be learning all kinds of valuable facts about denominators, amino acids, and tectonic plates.
But there are also countless bits of information that you won't hear about in the classroom, and these are the skills and facts you'll probably need the most. Unfortunately, there are no standard courses on how to make friends, how to fall in love, how to house and feed yourself, or how to actually find and land the future job that you're currently preparing to master. We can't help you with the first three, but we can certainly help you with the last one.
Here are 10 resume facts that most novice job-seekers usually need to learn on their own.
1. Resumes have rules for a reason.
Maybe you're not a rule follower at heart. Maybe you find standard resume subheadings tiresome and clichéd. But before you cast off what you see as soul-deadening conventions, consider that resumes are often uploaded automatically and that creating your own format and subheadings can confuse company filing systems – thereby automatically eliminating your application from the list. Also, keep in mind that these conventions help employers compare each resume with the next one in a way that's fair and logical.
2. Resumes need keywords (at least a few).
Some open positions attract hundreds of resumes, which are placed in a database upon receipt and pulled out only if they align with employer keyword searches. So you'll need to think like an employer and make sure the most obvious search terms appear at least once or twice in your document.
3. Resumes are read by real people.
Your resume may run through a gauntlet of keyword scanners at some point during the application process, but by the time it reaches the final round, it WILL pass through the hands of at least one set of human readers. Be ready for this and don't assume that you'll land a job just by fooling the robots and gaming the system.
4. Your resume needs a summary.
No matter how you shape and draft the body of your resume, make sure you include the most important points in a short paragraph at the top.
5. Employers care about your grammar and spelling. A lot.
Typos and text speak have no place in a resume.
6. You can leave information out if you choose.
If you're embarrassed by a former job, you don't have to include it in your resume. If you hold a PhD and you're pursuing a job that only requires a bachelor's, you can take this credential out.
7. Anything can be a skill.
If you find yourself asking, "Does this count as a skill?", the answer is almost always yes. Skiing, CPR, French, C++, dog grooming, standing on your head, whatever. If it's in some remote way relevant to the job in question, list it. It can't hurt you, but missed opportunities can.
8. Resume fabrications ARE a big deal.
If you're hired, your resume will be kept on file. If lies or exaggerations are discovered, even years down the road, they can cost you your job (and your dignity).
9. Resumes need cover letters.
Even if a cover letter isn't specifically requested, submit one anyway. Resumes need cover letters the way pictures need frames.
10. Your resume really can land you a great job.
The time and effort you invest in your document really can pay off. Just try it and you'll see.
Otherwise, you can always also get some help from the resources at MyPerfectResume.