The Resume Reality

Jewish Vocational Service of San Francisco and a beneficiary of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and an affiliate of IAJVS, the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services.

How many of us remember the days of shopping for the perfect resume paper? I can still recall that special sort of giddiness that swept over me when I found the ivory bond paper with the matching watermarked envelopes to send out my very first professional resume. In today's job market, where employers have come to expect resumes to arrive through their e-mail box or fax machine, it is difficult to know just how to approach a resume.

While fax machines, scanners, and the Internet have reduced the need for that elegant resume paper, content and format remain the most vital components of the resume. Your information should be accurate and to the point. Clearly describe your skills and the aspects of your previous positions as they relate to the job for which you are applying. Now, more than ever before, having a single resume will not suffice. Tailoring your resume to the specific needs of the company or to the desired expertise is a hiring manager's first sign that you understand his/her needs, and that you can transfer your background to fit those needs.

Whether you send a traditionally formatted resume or e-mail a text resume, pay special attention to grammar and spelling. Never rely solely on a word processing program for your corrections. A computer's spell check program will not know that you meant to write "hire" instead of "fire." Proofread your resume from the bottom up to catch mistakes that the eye tends to glance over. Always have a colleague or a career counselor read your resume before you send it out. Various organizations offer resume services where a professional career counselor can guide you through the resume development and proofreading process. Even in a job seeker's market, a poorly written resume quickly finds its way to the recycle bin.

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind when you write your resume is to be positive about yourself and about previous employers. Your cover letter and resume, much like an interview, should never state that you left a position because you were miserable or bored or didn't like your boss. Cate Steane, Director of Operations at San Francisco's JVS, urges job seekers to, "tell employers what you learned in a job, not why you didn't like it!"

Remember that your resume is an advertisement of the professional you. Like any advertisement, it should grab the reader's attention in an industry-appropriate manner, winning you the interview. Finally, regardless of the paper you send it on, whether you fax it or e-mail it, always enclose a cover letter to introduce yourself and the details not included on your resume.