Just as clothing styles change over time, so do other styles. While your resume still details your professional history, the overall look and specific content that employers expect to see changes over time. If your resume style is outdated, that implies that you are out of touch with the current employment market. Below are a few trends that have been observed in the chemical employment marketplace to test to see if your resume is “in style”.
The first thing on your resume is your name and contact information, and that is probably never going to change. However, as most communication is now electronic, including a physical mailing address has become less important. All resumes should include an email address, but it is no longer necessary to include a street address, rather only the city and state which you reside. The email address does not have be your current employer’s (and probably should not be), but the username should not be flippant. Including the URL to your LinkedIn profile can provide more detailed information.
Executive Summary or Highlights
Instead of job objective describing the position you are seeking, more and more people are using an executive summary or highlights section. This describes what you have done and what you can do, and will match a wider variety of possible openings.
Nouns and Verbs
People scan resumes for verbs, but computer keyword searches look for nouns, so include both. For example, a person might skim for someone who has “managed”, while a human resources request might require a “manager”. Including both words is better, and using them in context is even better for search engine optimization. For example, “Manager Quality Assurance – ensured documentation, sample testing and calibration was conducted according to protocol and ISO/IEC 17025 standards as appropriate.”
In order to include all possible keywords, many candidates used a “Keywords” section where they listed 25 or so additional words that did not appear elsewhere in their document. Since humans never read that section, and computers read the whole thing, it’s no longer a good use of space. Keywords should be worked into the body of the resume. For example, “NMR spectroscopist specializing in multi-dimensional analysis of protein structures” is better than, “NMR, proteins, structure”.
Paper is Out, PDF is In
The vast majority of resumes are sent electronically, read online, and never printed. Therefore, how your resume looks when printed is not nearly as important as how the electronic version looks. Sending an Adobe portable document format (pdf) version of your resume ensures that anyone will be able to read it, the formatting will remain as you wanted it, and no one will be able to accidentally edit it.
Keeping your personal data format (resume or CV) current is one way to show potential employers that you keep up with the changing requirements of the employment marketplace. Making sure your style, as well as your content, is as current as possible, is an easy way to make a great first impression, and start you on the road to a new chapter in your professional life.
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