You’ll find reams of resumé-writing advice, as well as samples, online at sites such as Monster.com and jobsearch.about.com. But for many, it helps to work with someone face to face. Don’t hesitate to ask a teacher, family member, or friend to help you put together your resumé. People who know you and understand your learning disability can assist you in focusing on your strengths and achievements. High school and college career counselors are excellent resources as well.
You have no obligation to disclose your LD in your resumé. However, be thinking about circumstances in which you may want to discuss your LD — for example, if you require certain accommodations to succeed at specific job-related tasks. (Later chapters of this book discuss accommodations in detail.)
The Parts of a ResuméBelow is a list of the sections of a standard resumé, in the order in which they are typically listed. However, resumés vary widely in both content and format. As a rule of thumb, employers usually spend only about 30 seconds looking over a candidate’s resumé before making an initial decision about his or her suitability for the position or the company, so make sure that your greatest strengths are also the most prominent ones. If you are applying for several types of jobs, consider making separate resumés for each, highlighting those aspects of your experience that best match the job qualifications. Whatever format you choose, be prepared to talk about every aspect of your resumé in a job interview, so if there is something you particularly want to discuss, make sure it is on there. On the flipside, you may downplay weaknesses by leaving out or minimizing positions that proved to be a bad fit, as long as everything that is on the resumé is truthful and accurate.
- Contact information. At the top right or top center of your resumé, list your full name, street address, telephone number(s), and email address. If available, include your professional website address as well.
- Objective. If you want to, you may include a brief statement of your career goal, but it is not necessary. For example, you may write: “To obtain a job as a health care assistant in a senior center or nursing home.“ Objectives are more common in some fields than in others. Research your particular field to determine standard practice. If you do include an objective, make sure that it is a close or, better yet, exact match with the job you are applying for. Any discrepancy will hurt your chances of getting the position.
- Education. Include the names, cities, and states of the high schools and post-secondary schools you attended, the years you attended, the degrees or certificates you earned, and the courses of study you pursued, along with any special training, honors, or scholarships you received. List the schools in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. If are still in school, you may list as the date the year you began through the present. If you have extensive post-secondary education, you may choose to leave out your high school.
- Work experience. For each job you’ve held, include the name and location of the employer, your job title, the dates of employment, and a brief description of your responsibilities and accomplishments. List jobs in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position and working backward. If your jobs fall into distinct categories, you may create separate sections, such as “Advertising Experience” and “Marketing Experience.” Depending on your experience and objective, you may lump paid positions, volunteer positions, and internships together or create separate headings for them.
- Skills and achievements. Computer skills, fluency in other languages, and other technical expertise all belong here, as long as they are relevant to the job you are seeking. Awards and honors may also be listed here or, if they are school-related, in the education section.
Even if this is the first time you’re looking for a job, you can still write an appealing resumé. Summer jobs, paid or volunteer, can show initiative and dependability. Extracurricular activities (sports, clubs) can show your ability to complete projects or work as a team player. Awards and honors demonstrate your accomplishments. Be sure to include any job-related skills you may possess and include your GPA if it is over 3.0.
Resumé Appearance Employers should be able to find the most important aspects of your resumé, as well as your most impressive credentials or experience, at a glance. Your name should be particularly prominent (often in a larger font than the body of the resumé, and in boldface type), as should your section headings (Education, Work Experience, Skills, and so on). Formatting should be applied consistently throughout for maximum readability: all headings, for example, should be in a specific font, font size, and style (bold, italics), with the same amount of space above and below them. Likewise, all body text should be in a single 10- to 12-point font — Arial or Times Roman are safe choices. In general, if the resumé is short, the body text font should be slightly larger to fill out the page; if the resumé is long, the font may be slightly smaller.) Even if you’re submitting your resumé electronically, have a hard copy version available to take to your interview or to leave with a prospective employer. Hard copies are also easier to proofread.
Tips for Putting Together Your Resumé
- Concentrate on your strengths. For each characteristic that you think an employer might want (dependability, problem solving, initiative), collect examples from your work history or other past experiences to prove you have it. Wherever possible, emphasize your flexibility and willingness to adapt to new situations and learn new skills.
- Write simply and clearly, using strong, active verbs such as managed, completed, organized, and directed to describe your experience. Use bullet points to draw the reader’s attention to each separate responsibility or accomplishment.
- Be specific. It is not enough to say you possess or are willing to acquire certain desirable qualities; you must show you have them. When possible, support your accomplishments with statistics and examples. In addition to writing “helped organize annual fundraiser,” for example, add the following: “which raised $3 million for local charities.” Do the necessary research to find these types of details.
- Tailor your resumé to the particular company or job you are applying to, emphasizing the skills and experience requested. Always print a fresh copy of your resumé on high-quality bond paper to give to an employer. (Don’t use photocopies.)
- Make sure your resumé is error-free. To make a strong first impression, your resumé must be free of typos and other errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Be sure to run a spell check and grammar check on your resumé and proofread a hard copy before sending it out. It’s an excellent idea to have at least one other person proofread it as well.
When mailing out your resumé to potential employers, either through regular mail or electronically, be sure to include a cover letter.