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how to write a professional resume

How To Write A Professional Resume

You can’t waste time getting a job, especially if you don’t have one right now. The average job search lasts 18 weeks, but it’s longer for candidates who don’t have the right career marketing documents, like a resume.

89% of hiring managers will not hire candidates who do not have a resume. That means, it is super important to write the perfect resume if you want job, but you already knew that or else you wouldn’t be on this page, right?

We had a long chat with Mark Fiebert (Andrew’s Dad) about creating a killer job resume. Mark runs a website called CareerAlley.com where he teaches his visitors the importance of producing a winning resume and how to find the right job. Here is how to write a professional resume.

1. Does The Paper Matter?

No. However, if you mail it, you should use nice paper and use a large flat envelope. You don’t want to fold your resume and shove it into an envelope because then it won’t sit flat on a desk. Also, when you send something in a large envelope, it’s more likely to get opened.

BONUS TIP: hand write the address on the envelope to ensure your resume gets opened.

2. Font Style and Font Size?

Use classic fonts including, Arial and Times New Roman. Keep the font size at about 10 to 12 points.

3. Should I Use a Cover Letter?

Although not as important as it used to be, it’s still pretty important. Use a cover letter when you’re applying for a job that you have no connection with. For instance, if you’re answering an job ad or randomly applying for a job you saw online.

A cover letter is not so important if you’ve been recommended for a job by someone you know.

4. What Should Be Included on My Cover Letter?

If you’re applying for a specific job, make sure to include what job you’re applying for, where you saw the job advertised, tell them why you want to work for their company, and quickly go through your skills that let’s the hiring manager know you’re the right person for the job. Use some of the same keywords (terms) that were in the job description which you’re applying to.

At the top of the cover letter, be sure to include your name, address, phone number, email, and you’re LinkedIn link if you have one (and you should) so that it looks like a letterhead.

The cover letter is a place to show your voice. A resume can be dry and to-the-point, but your cover letter let’s the hiring manager inside your personality.

Here are some free cover letter and resume templates!

5. How Many Pages Should My Resume Be?

If you can get your resume on one page, that’s great. However, if you have over 10 years of work experience or years of education, you may need to go to two pages. You should try to keep it to one page if it makes sense.

Speaking of work experience, the rule of thumb is, if you’ve worked somewhere for six months or less, you can leave it out of your experience. However, if leaving out this experience creates a gap in your working time frame, then keep it in.

6. Should I Use Fluffy Language?

Short answer: no.

However, because a lot of resumes will be sent online, it’s important that you use specific keywords in your resume. A lot of recruiters will simply scan through resumes looking for keywords. Just be sure not to stuff your resume with keywords. If you’re applying for a sales job, don’t over use the word “sales.”

Start with your keyword and follow it with what your accomplishment was. As an example:

Head of Sales and Marketing
Increased sales by 10% and introduced a new product line that increased traffic to the company.

7. Should I Have More Than One Version of My Resume?

If you are applying to different types of jobs and lots of different companies, it’s a good idea to have multiple versions of your resume to better fit the job you’re applying for.

A lot of people will try to create a one-size-fits-all resume and it may not be a good fit for every job you try for.

The average job search lasts 18 weeks, but it's longer for candidates who don’t have a resume.

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8. Should I Use Resume Templates to Get Started?

Yes, and it’s a great idea. In fact, it’s easier to change an existing resume to fit your needs than it is to create one from scratch, and there are a few ways to this.

You can simply do a Google search for “resume templates” and start there. You can also use sites like InDeed.com and search for existing resumes of people looking for similar jobs.

Since I’ve created my fair share of resumes throughout my career, I provided a few resume templates that you can use here:

Here are some free cover letter and resume templates!

9. Should I Get Creative with My Resume?

You should only get creative with your resume if you’re going after a creative job. If you’re applying for a job in the financial industry for example, it’s not a good idea to get funky with your resume — just stick to the basics. Let your work experiences and skills speak for itself.

When I was applying to be a graphic designer, I created a fully illustrated resume that I included below. However, I was not successful at getting any jobs. In my defense, I didn’t really try. But I was told by a recruiter (head hunter) that my resume needed to be less “creative” since they were trying to place me in a web programming job.

10. What’s the Most Important Part of My Resume?

Find out what the keywords are for the job you’re applying for. You’ll need to do some research here to find out what’s going to get employer’s attention.

Be short and to the point with your skills and past work experiences. When you go in for an interview, they will most likely ask you to elaborate, so this is your chance to explain yourself in more detail.

11. What’s the Best Delivery Method for My Resume?

There are two schools of thought there: be everywhere or be personal.

The first thought is to post your resume on every single job market board that best fits what you’re looking for. Start seeking out companies you’d like to work for and send them the version of your resume that fits the company. Then, simply email them your resume.

The second thought is to seek out specific companies, find out the name and address of the head of marketing or human resources, and send them a physical version of your resume on nice paper in a large envelope and personalize it to them.

If you do the first thought, you’re going to be sending out a lot of resumes because it’s more of a shotgun approach. However, with the second thought, it’s more of a targeted approach and you’re more likely to get a response or an interview.

It’s up to you to decide which approach you’d like to take. I suggest you do both.

12. How Do I Find Good Jobs to Submit My Resume To?

When you’re looking online or offline, seek out newly posted jobs. If a job ad has been posted for a few weeks, chances are they’ve already gotten a ton of resumes, and yours will get lost in the pile.

You will likely have a better chance of being noticed if you apply for newly posted jobs opportunities.

13. Are Referrals and Letters of Recommendation Still Important?

There are three main ways you can get a job:

  1. Applying for job ads online and offline.
  2. Using a recruiter or head hunter.
  3. Your personal network.

The first thing you should do is let everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. Look for people who are working at organizations that you would like to work. Even if you wind up getting an interview through a recruiter or job ad, you should still go through your network and find out if anyone you know works for that company (LinkedIn is great for this).

63% of hiring managers will hire a referral before hiring a non-referral.

Years ago, I applied for a job at a web design firm and got an interview. After the interview, I talked to a lot of my friends about how it went and I found out that someone I knew used to work for the company. When I spoke to them about it, he sent an email to the owner of the company recommending me for the job. A few days later I was contacted via email by the owner and got the job because he said that I came “highly recommended by one of their favorite past employees.”

If it wasn’t for that series of events that led to a kick-ass recommendation, would have never gotten the job.

Be sure to ask people you respect for a letter of recommendation. An easy way to do this is through LinkedIn (How to Request a Recommendation on LinkedIn). I’ve done this a few times, and even though it’s digital, it’s a good idea to take their words and print it out so you can use it if you need it.

14. Is Having a LinkedIn Profile Important?

Absolute!

Instead of going into great detail about how to set up a great LinkedIn profile, I’ll leave it to a few experts to help you:

6 Resume Tips You Should Avoid

  • Avoid adding an Objective to your resume. Just use a starting paragraph.
  • Avoid small fonts and large fonts, and stick to classic font styles.
  • Avoid using fluffy language in your resume.
  • Avoid creating a long resume — stick to 3 pages or less including your cover letter.
  • Avoid getting creative with your resume if you’re not applying for a creative job.
  • Avoid putting referrals and letters of recommendation in your initial resume. Use them when asked for them, or during the interview process.
  • Avoid grammar errors and typos — duh!

Our Podcast Interview with Mark Fiebert

We interviewed Mark about creating a killer job resume on our podcast. Listen to the full episode here and be sure to subscribe, too.

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  • While a resume is still a must, I’m finding online presence to be a huge factor in hiring decisions these days. While my resume isn’t the most impressive, my google presence is pretty sweet. It’s the latter that gets me jobs.

  • Interesting points. I feel like resumes are losing a bit of their luster, now that you can vouch for yourself through your online presence. I agree with Stephanie.