You will notice, I hope, that I have left the subject of a resume for last. You might think that I've done this because I think that this subject is unimportant. If you think that, then you'd be right. Nobody ever got a job because of a great resume.
The main purpose of a resume should be as something to leave behind after an interview to remind the potential employer of your value.
Fill your resume with your accomplishments. You should have a list of these from your work earlier when you were deciding what you wanted to do.
Some simple rules that you should follow:
1. Never include a picture unless you're applying for a modeling job.
2. Use white paper unless you're applying for a job as an interior decorator or an artist.
3. I have said for a number of years that resumes do NOT have to be printed. That a clean copy will do just as well. However, with the advent of word-processing and laser printers, a professional looking print job is within the reach of everybody.
4. Neatness counts.
5. Don't include references and don't even bother to say that you'll give references. Of course, you'll give references. Who won't?
6. Neatness counts. And so does spelling.
7. Only two pages. It is questionable whether even the first page gets read. More than two pages most definitely will not be even looked at. If you have trouble getting your resume down to two pages, start leaving things out. Leave out those earlier uninteresting things that you did before you got to the interesting stuff. I saw a resume recently of a man who was a dentist. He started his experience with a job he'd had as a waiter! Leave out the stuff that nobody cares about! However, you do it, only two pages. No exceptions. Only two pages!
8. Don't include anything else. No letters of reference. No college transcripts. No certificates from conferences. No copies of your college degree. No one is even going to glance at any resume that includes dozens of pages. Truly, I have seen this. But I didn't read the resume nor will anyone else. If you have to send out copies of your college degree, send a copy to your mother, she'll be proud of you. Don't include it with your resume.
9. Do include at least a one-inch margin on all sides. This will increase the likelihood that your resume will be read. When someone looks at a resume that completely fills the page, and it's the three hundredth resume that they've look at that day, trust me on this, it's not going to be looked at. It's going in the trash pile.
10. List your experience in reverse chronological order. Forget about functional resumes. I don't know about others, but functional resumes give me a headache.
11. List your objective at the top of the resume. If you have a problem narrowing down your objective, have more that one resume. Another way to handle this problem is to leave the objective out of the resume and put it in a cover letter. With the functionality of the word processor you can many different versions of your resume, printing-out a fresh copy for every occasion. Whatever you do, don't answer an ad for a job that's vastly different from your objective as listed on the resume. For example, don't answer an ad for a sales job, with a resume that shows your objective as manufacturing management. Do you think that sounds far fetched? What does that kind of action say about the person answering the ad? What pile does the resume go in? Trash, you say? You got it!
12. Except for the two-page rule, none of these rules are hard and fast. It's your job campaign. If you feel more comfortable doing things a little different, then by all means do so. However, keep reviewing the responses that you're getting. If people giggle when you hand them your resume, perhaps you need to rethink your decision to print your resume in white ink on brown paper.