by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
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- The purpose of a resume is:The correct response is d. All of the above.
The purpose of a resume is to sell the employer on interviewing you. Its purpose is NOT to get you a job. Employers also use resumes to structure the interview process. Their questions may center on having you take them through your resume. Your resume also serves a tangible reminder of you after you've left the interview and can be used to help your interviewer justify to management his or her decision to hire you.
- A resume should:The correct response is a. Serve as a sales tool, designed to market the job-seeker to each prospective employer.
As you develop your resume, think "advertisement," not "autobiography." The idea is not to provide every minute detail of your life and career but to distill your life and career to the concise points that will sell you to an employer. As a sales tool, your resume should focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities/duties and should stick to information that is relevant to how well you can perform a given job -- as opposed to irrelevant personal details.
- The way that most career experts recommend you e-mail your resume to employers is:The correct response is c. According to the employer's instructions.
You can find submission instructions for many major employers at their online corporate career centers; see our Quintessential Careers Directory of Corporate Career Centers. If an employer does not spell out submission instructions, the best approach is to ASK! "I cannot think of any circumstances where an organization, trying to recruit somebody, would be so obstructive as to not answer the simple question: 'How would you like to receive my resume?'" notes career coach Nick Gendler of London, UK. Experts suggest that if an employer does not provide instructions for how submit your resume and makes it difficult for you to obtain this information, you may not work to work for that employer.
If you absolutely cannot find out how the employer prefers to receive resumes, however, sending your resume as an e-mail attachment, with a text version of your cover letter and resume also pasted into the body of the e-mail ensures that you have covered all the bases. Since at least 90 percent of employers place resumes into keyword-searchable databases, the text version of your resume pasted into your e-mail message enables the employer to immediately place your resume into the database. The employer also has the option of printing out a paper copy of your resume that you've sent as an e-mail attachment. Now, keep in mind that while this protocol is the advice of MOST career experts, requirements for submitting your resume vary from employer to employer. Some don't want attachments because of viruses and software incompatibilities. Others want ONLY attachments. Most employers, especially recruiters, will not take the time to go to a Web address to view your Web-based resume. Some employers want you to paste your resume into an online resume-submission form.
- What is the current page-number preference among employers?The correct response is b. Two Pages. In the current Twitter-inspired communications climate, employer expectations are trending toward resumes that are not only shorter overall (1-2 pages, even for very experienced job-seekers), but written in a brief, tight manner. A two-page resume is fine if you have relevant material to fill two pages, but don't go to more than two pages without an extremely good reason.
Readability is, in fact, extremely important. In a research study, employers ranked easy readability as the most important resume point in terms of first impressions. Thus, don't try to cram too much information into your resume or reduce the point size so much that you impede readability. Two-page resumes are widely accepted for all job-seekers except new graduates, and even new grads have some leeway if they have material worthy of two pages. See our article How Many Pages Should Your Resume Be?.
- A complete job-search package includes an excellent resume and a dynamic cover letter.The correct response is True.
A cover letter should always accompany your resume. Even though most job postings don't specifically mention a cover letter, it is usually expected. A cover letter tells the employer exactly what kind of job you want to do and tailors your qualifications to that job.
Frequently the job-seeker will see this line in a rejection letter: "We chose the candidate who provided the best fit with our needs." The cover letter is the way to show an employer how you fit the company's needs.
Given the screening process, a cover letter may have as few as 20 seconds to grab an employer's attention. A well-written, interesting cover letter that opens a window on your personality has a much better chance of enticing the employer to interview you than a boring, formulaic one. See our Cover Letter Resources, including Cover Letter Reboot: A Crowdsourced Update of Traditional Cover-letter Advice for Today's Job Search.
- An outstanding resume is a virtual guarantee that you will get the job.The correct response is False.
Many variables can stand between an exceptional resume and a job offer. Your resume might be great, but you might not be quite what the employer is looking for. Or your cover letter might not be up to par. Or you don't interview as well as you might. Or the competition is just too formidable. A terrific resume is a huge plus, but's far from the whole ball game. So, after brushing up your resume, be sure to take advantage of our Interviewing Resources.
- Should you use the same resume for every job you apply for?The correct response is a. No, because a "general" resume that is not focused on a specific job's requirements is seen as not competitive.
The idea of changing your resume for every opening may seem overwhelming, but if you really want to succeed, that's what you'll do. It's not that much trouble to tailor your resume to each job because you don't have to change everything. Use this quick Resume Tailoring Checklist:
- Change the "headline" on your resume for each job you apply for.
- Tweak your Qualifications Summary or Professional profile section for each job.
- Ensure that you use the right keywords for each job you apply for.
And far from thinking you're a suck-up, the employer will be extremely impressed that you tailored your resume to this specific opening.
- What different versions of your resume should you consider, depending on your situation?The correct response is d. All of the above.
At the very least every job-seeker today needs a formatted "print" resume for networking, career fairs, and presenting at the interview, as well as a text-based version for electronic submissions. As noted in Question 3, sending your resume in text-based format directly in an e-mail message removes all obstacles to an employer's placing your resume right into a searchable database. If that's the case, why do you still need the formatted, "print" resume in document form sent as an attachment? Because the employer may want to print out your resume to review it, especially once the database search has narrowed down the candidates, and the formatted, print version will be more reader-friendly than the text-based version. You'll also want to have a print version of your resume on hand to take to interviews and for occasions when employers request resumes in "old-fashioned" ways -- by mail or fax.
You may also want to consider a Web-based version of your resume to be published on a Web page, which is advantageous in a number of ways:
- Employers can access your resume 24/7. If you're talking on the phone with an employer in another city who wants to see a copy of your resume, you can simply refer the employer to the Web address where your resume resides.
- Resumes published on the Web enable passive job-seeking because employers sometimes find your resume on the Web using various search mechanisms.
- A resume published on the Web enables you to include links to work samples (written work, graphic design, other Web pages you've designed, photographs, reports, etc.) that can demonstrate your skills to employers.
- If Web design is a career you are pursuing, a Web-based resume can show off your design skills.
- A chrono-functional resume should be considered by:The correct response is d. Only in extreme situations and when a chronological resume is not producing results.
Although chrono-functional resumes can be very useful in addressing problematic aspects of your job history, they are highly risky because employers dislike and distrust them. A chrono-functional resume is organized around functional skills clusters instead of a chronology of jobs. If your job history is extremely problematic, and you are not getting results with a chronological resumes, consider experimenting with a chrono-functional resume.
- To give your resume a pleasing appearance, consider the following:The correct response is a. Adequate white space, bullets, type in a readable size, judicious use of type varieties (such as bold and italics), and an occasional rule line.
These guidelines, which apply to PRINT resumes only, will give your resume a visually appealing appearance. Moderate use of tables and columns is acceptable -- we use tables in designing resumes for IT professionals -- but don't over do it, and remember that the more formatting you use, the more you will have to remove when you convert your resume to text format for electronic submission.
Photos should NEVER be placed on U.S. resumes; U.S. employers absolutely don't want to see them and will often black them out with a marker if they appear. The reason is that they don't want to be sued for discrimination if you're not hired.
Underlining and all caps add clutter to a print resume. We'd suggest limiting use of all caps and avoiding underlining altogether.
- Which of the following should you include on your resume:The correct response is d. None of the above.
None of the listed items belong on your resume. See this page of our Resume Tutorial for a complete list of things never to list on your resume on your resume.
- The most effective way to produce a resume is to use a template in Microsoft Word.The correct response is False.
Microsoft Word templates are certainly an easy way to produce a resume, but they are instantly recognizable to employers as having been created from a Word template. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, except that employers have seen a million of them, so they don't stand out. They are also somewhat inflexible and contain some problematic formatting.
- In a survey of hiring managers, these resume characteristics were rated at or near the top of employer preferences:The correct response is d. All of the above.
In the research study, employers ranked easy readability as the most important resume point in terms of first impressions. Use of bullets was the 2nd-highest ranked point by employers, and density of type (paragraphs rather than bullet points) was ranked highly as a factor that would inspire employers to discard a resume. Clear presentation of the job-seeker's job history also ranked highly.
- Of employers who prefer to receive resumes via e-mail attachment, what is the preferred word-processing format:The correct response is c. Microsoft Word.
While some employers prefer PDF format for the consistency of appearance from computer to computer, virtually no employers want Google Docs or HTML formats. The key is to carefully note the employer's specifications in the ad or job posting you respond to. You can find submission instructions for many major employers at their online corporate career centers; see our Quintessential Careers Directory of these Company Career Centers. If no instructions appear, contact the company to ask what word-processing format is preferred for attachments.
- Which of the following are aspects of branding your resume:The correct response is d. All of the above.
In a resume, branding can be executed through at least three components:
- The distinctive appearance of your resume, which should be carried through with all your career-marketing communications -- cover letter, business cards, thank-you letters, portfolio, and much more -- to package you with a consistent, branded look. Every time an employer sees this look, he or she will instantly associate it with you.
- A message woven throughout your resume that remains consistent and does not contradict the image you want to project. Every word, every bullet point should support the branded message you intend to convey.
- A branding statement that defines who you are, your promise of value, and why you should be sought out. A branding statement is a punchy "ad-like" statement that tells immediately what you can bring to an employer. Your branding statement should sum up your value proposition, encapsulate your reputation, showcase what sets you apart from others, and describe the added value you bring to a situation. Think of it as a sales pitch. Consider integrating these elements into the brief synopsis that is your branding statement:
- What makes you different?
- What qualities or characteristics make you distinctive?
- What have you accomplished?
- What is your most noteworthy personal trait?
- What benefits (problems solved) do you offer?
- When should you have your resume with you?The correct response is d. At all times.
You never know when you might have an opportunity to share your resume with someone, so keep it close at hand. Keep copie in your briefcase, attache case, or at the very least, keep some in your car. We know of a job-seeker who received a jo interview n an airpl ne because b chance his seat was located next to that of a hiring manager. After some initial small talk, the discussion turned to business, and because this job-seeker had followed our advice and brought his resume with him, he was actually able to have an impromptu interview right there on the plane.
- Once you distribute your resume to prospective employers, your strategy should be which of the following?The correct answer is c. Plan a detailed follow-up schedule with each employer.
Most employers are inundated with far too many job applications to possibly answer each one. Employers simply do not have the time or resources to deal with the increasing number of job applicants. The best employers try, but the burden is on the job-seeker to develop a follow-up plan with each employer. You must proactively manage each application and follow-up accordingly -- by phone, email, or postal mail. Be assertive and persistent in requesting an interview, but do not be annoying or rude. Remember the old adage about the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
- To make your resume stand out, it's a good idea to have it printed on paper in bright, attention-getting colors.The correct response is False.
Flamboyant colors might be considered in extremely rare circumstances, such as applying for a job in a highly creative field, but as a general rule, toned-down colors are best. You can't go wrong with white. Cream, ivory, tan, buff, gray, and very light pastels also are acceptable.
- Whenever possible, job-seekers should pre-register for career fairs -- or at least obtain the list of recruiting companies -- so that they can bring different versions of their resumes for different employers and different positions.The correct response is True.
Many job-seekers go to fairs to "see the sights" and are not prepared to interview. You can get a huge jump on the competition by getting a list of the companies attending the fair, doing some research on each of the companies you want to interview with, and tailoring your resume to each of the companies you're interested in; don't waste time with companies that do not interest you. While all of the recruiters will have company literature at their booths at the fair, you often can't access those until after the interview. With so much information about companies on the Web, there is no excuse not to do your homework. Bring lots of resumes to the fair -- at least two for each company for which you have an interest. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, make sure you bring enough of each version of your resume. For more about career fairs, see The Ten Keys to Success at Job and Career Fairs.
- If you have an e-mail address such as Nasty-Chick@domainname.com, it's best to change it or use an alternate, more professional e-mail address on your resume.The correct response is True.
Pretty obvious, eh? Yet we continue to see job-seekers use highly inappropriate e-mail addresses. Remember, your e-mail address says something about who you are, so be as professional as possible.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this quiz? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.