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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

The five commandments of resume writing

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun


If you've ever been laid off, you know it's just that much harder to motivate yourself to get off the couch and start pounding the pavement. It's that sentiment that author Michael B. Laskoff addresses in his new book, Landing on the Right Side of Your Ass: A Survival Guide for the Recently Unemployed (Three Rivers Press).

A functional, effective resume, of course, is a critical component of your search, and "a thoughtful, reasonable professional goal is the 800-lb. gorilla of the successful resume," writes Laskoff. Below are the five "content commandments" that Laskoff says are essential to ensuring your resume doesn't get filed under "G."

1. Support your goal: Your entire resume should convince the reader that your professional goal - stated or unstated - is sensible, logical and realistic. Anything that detracts from this should be omitted if possible or downplayed if not. For example, if you're an aspiring opera singer with a background in cons-truction and community musical theatre, you'll want to gloss over the manual labour and make the most of your experience yodelling, ululating and singing.

2. Cover the basics: In addition to including all of the must-haves -- name, address, e-mail and phone numbers -- there are other basics that must be add-ressed, such as education, the dreaded time gap, and the presentation of your experience.

Avoid explaining long gaps in your resume with fables, and instead highlight in the interview all of the productive things you did with your time. If the gap is because of professional action, you're still better off explaining this in person. Preserve your credibility at all costs, or your resume will become quickly acquainted with the garbage can.

3. Be brief: The best resumes are a single page and allow a reader to get a sense of who you are in 30 seconds or less, while providing enough additional detail to make a deeper reading worth while at a later time.

4. Intrigue the reader: Most resumes are boring. An easy way to allow yours to stand out is to find a suitable way to make it more interesting. Intriguing is the product of interesting experiences well described. This requires you to use purposeful language, accentuate accomplishments, highlight career progress and insert some interesting facts about yourself.

5. Bottom's up: Resumes are written in reverse chronological order, but they are usually read starting at the bottom. Yet, most people neglect putting something interesting at the bottom to get readers to keep reading up. An interesting educational achievement -- class president, Rhodes scholarship -- or spicy tidbits in your "Interests" section will peak the reader's interest and inspire them to read on.



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