When you think about taking an adventurous trip to an exotic locale around the globe, you know the first thing you'll need is an updated passport. The analogy holds true when contemplating a job change -- whether within the same industry or changing fields -- you will need an updated resume to help you along on that important career journey.
A resume is more than just a listing of your most basic information, however. A strong resume should present a thumbnail sketch of your career history, talents, accomplishments and achievements. A powerful resume not only outlines where you have worked but also highlights what you personally can take credit for along the way. Most professional resumes start off with a Summary of Qualifications, a brief five to seven sentence overview of your professional knowledge and skills. Next, comes Areas of Strength which can be key words to show at a glance the areas where you have the most experience such as "Financial Reporting", "Staff Training", "Operations Management", etc.
The meat and potatoes part of the resume, of course, is the Professional Experience section. Here is your opportunity to not only list the companies, job titles, and dates of employment in reverse chronological order, but also to include information about your responsibilities and accomplishments. This is your opportunity to blow your own horn, to give the prospective employer an answer to the question, "What have you done lately?"
An accomplishment driven resume can get you a lot farther than a laundry list of past jobs. On one or two pages, you can present your best efforts, awards won, languages spoken, global experience gained, or specialized training and certifications. You need to get this information across before the interview or, chances are, there may not ever be an interview.
Of course, education, industry training, and computer skills also need to be included on your resume. Unless you have recently graduated from college, the Education section should follow the Professional Experience part of your resume. Include your degree, major, and any outstanding awards or scholarship information, if you feel it is impressive.
Once you have your resume information polished and proofread, make sure that you take the time to send your resume to the best sources for career advancement within your industry. Of course, answering job advertisements in major daily newspapers and industry & trade journals is a natural way to start, but don’t forget to check out the many on-line services available for posting your resume. Your resume can be posted on electronic bulletin boards, be searched by key words by major corporate Human Resource departments, or be screened by recruiters with clients who are looking for someone with your particular qualifications.
Your resume is your passport to a better job and the more you can do to make yourself stand out from the crowd, the farther you'll go in that career journey of life.
Best of luck and happy travels!
Peter Newfield is President of Career-Resumes.com, one of the premier resume writing services in the US and a Managing Member of ResumeMachine.com, a premier email distribution service with over 24,000 email addresses on Recruiters, Companies and Venture Capitalists. He is The Resume Expert for BlueSteps.com, ExecutiveRegistry.com, NETSHARE.com, ExecutiveTalent.net, and DirectEmployer.com