In a world where job security is no longer guaranteed many people are now realizing how important it is to have an up to date resume. Gone are the days where you work for one employer for 30 years, now it's a dog eat dog world and at anytime, anyone of us could find ourselves out on the street looking for work. As an employer I realize just how difficult it can be to keep your employees job safe in such an uncertain world when you can have a customer go broke and not pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars. None of us are really safe, even employers can find themselves looking for a job.
Nevertheless one of the key things that I say to all of my team is that you must take every opportunity that is presented to you. For example, if an employer offers you to do some training, take it with open arms because you never know when you might be offered it, even if you have to do it after hours. It amazes me in this day and age how some people knock back doing training simply because they are too lazy. I know dealing with the Defense forces in Australia, many ex-soldiers are offered the opportunity to retrain prior to leaving the service but it amazes me that many of them do not take the opportunity to use the training money allocated to them.
So why is this important …
Well employers today have many people to choose from in the job market and getting noticed in a crowded market can be difficult but not just for the candidates, also for employers as well. As an employer, I often find it really difficult to know a persons skills level just from their resume. The current rule of thumb being bandied around the employment agencies is that your resume should only be 2 pages to 3 pages long. Well one of the things I have found is that it is all well and good for the employment agencies to recommend only 2 to 3 pages but as an employer it doesn't help me when I am trying to differentiate one potential employee to another.
One of the other things many agencies tell you is to only put a summary of your training or computer training into your resume. Well let me blunt with you, you are selling yourself short if you do this. One of the things I have learnt over the last five years in building my computer training company is that not all training companies are the same and not all training from these companies are the same. Plus, employers want to see who you have been trained by, how long ago you did your training and any qualifications that you may have from this training.
This opens up an important issue at this point. When you undertake computer training in today's marketplace, you will often simply do courses where you receive a Certificate of Attendance. For example, you might have been sent by your employer to do a Microsoft Word 2003 Level 1 day course. Now as this course is simply a one day course and you don't get a certification from the course you will simply get a certificate of attendance. So, one important key issue you must address when writing your resume is to clearly differentiate your certification to your training courses.
In the computer industry, there are many different certifications available for example, as an IT Professional you could undertake the following certifications –
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Certification (Also known as the MCSE)
Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator Certification (Also know as the MCSA)
Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Certification (Also known as the MCDBA)
CISCO Systems Engineer
Now if you are like most people, you will have no interest in IT Professional Certifications but there are in fact non-IT Certifications available as well such as the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification.
So how do we show these in a resume …
When you are developing your resume it is always important to show both your Certifications and the computer training you have done. Always show your Certifications first and then the training you have attended. The reason for doing this is that your Certifications hold more weight then the training on its own. Also, as you put your certifications in always make sure you put down when you actually achieved the certification as well.
For example I would document my qualifications in this way –
Professional Certifications –
30 July 2006 Microsoft Office 2003 Specialist Master Instructor
15 June 2005 Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician
Professional Certification Exams –
7 July 2006 Microsoft Outlook 2003 Core Exam
6 July 2006 Microsoft Access 2003 Core Exam
5 July 2006 Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 Core Exam
4 July 2006 Microsoft Excel 2003 Expert Exam
3 July 2006 Microsoft Excel 2003 Core Exam
2 July 2006 Microsoft Word 2003 Expert Exam
1 July 2006 Microsoft Word 2003 Core Exam
12 February 2005 Exam 70-271: Supporting Users and Troubleshooting a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System
10 February 2005 Exam 70-272: Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System
Professional Training –
29 May 2005 Microsoft Word 2003 Level 1 (One-on-One Personal Computer Training)
26 May 2005 Microsoft Excel 2003 Level 2 (One-on-One Personal Computer Training)
22 – 25 May 2005 Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician
(One-on-One Personal Computer Training)
One of the other things you need to consider when writing your resume is to make sure that if one of your professional certifications comes with a logo that you use it in your resume. The reason for that is that the qualification will jump out at the reader. For example if you are a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and your logo is the first thing they see, the employer is more likely to put your resume on the pile to be considered. One of the things I have found from my own experience is that employers inherently hate having to go through the hiring process so the easier you make it for them to notice you are qualified the more likely you will get hired. I certainly encourage my students to put their professional Certification Logo's at the start of the resume as close to your name as possible as this is the first item an employer will look at.
When you are entering your certifications and your training you have undertaken into your resume make sure that you locate this information before your employment experience. There is a logical process to this and that is, if employers have defined in the employment advert that you must have say Microsoft Word experience, and your education information is first, then they will be able to tick this off in their check list that you have undertake Microsoft Word training.
See employers are looking for two things and they are –
1. Most employers prefer people who have had formal training or have some sort of certificate or certification
2. Employers also like to see that you have had experience using the application.
If you have had formal training and you have that showing first, then you will be noticed much more quickly. The other advantage in presenting your computer certifications first and then your training we are saying to the employer, look I am a certified person and these people say so plus I have had formal training.
One of the last items you must consider when creating your resume is to ensure that you demonstrate in each job how you used your qualification or skills you learnt during the training in the job. For example, if the employer requests in the employment advert and says that you must have Advanced Microsoft Word training you must demonstrate how you have used your training in each job.
If an employer says to me that I want someone who has Advanced Microsoft Word Training I would expect that person would have some of these skills –
1. Be able to do a mail merge and filter the records in the mail merge
2. Be able to create a template that somebody can use to fill in information using the form objects
3. Be able to use fields and know the shortcuts for creating, editing and manipulating fields
4. Be able to use tables and format the tables
5. Be able to Track Changes in a document and Merge various versions of a document
So, when you write employment history component of your resume you should be showing how you actually did some of those tasks in your day-to-day job. Keep in mind employers are not expecting that you will be doing this everyday, but you must clearly demonstrate where you have done this in the past.
One of the other key things to remember is that when you have undertaken computer training in the past, your trainers should have reinforced the fact that you should know your key terminology and shortcuts. If you know your key terminology then you should be using that terminology in your resume to demonstrate you understand the requirements of the job. If you do not use this terminology in your resume then employers will not be able to ascertain just what your true comprehension level really is.
The bottom line is this. Your resume is your advertisement to an employer that says, this is why you should hire me and what is in it for the employer if they hire you and if you do not sell yourself then why should they hire you. Remember one thing, if an employer is going to hire you, they are investing in you as a business. Just think, if the employer hires you for the next ten years and the job is worth $ 50,000 a year, you as an employee will earn $ 500,000. Which means the employer when he hires you is investing $ 500,000. Are you really worth $ 500,000? If you are then prove to the employer that you are.
Too often I hear people complaining that they cannot get work. Ninety percent of the time, it is simply because the person complaining is not selling themselves effectively to the employer and in many cases, especially in today's marketplace it is because they are not demonstrating clearly and effectively the computer skills they possess to their prospective employer.