In the second issue of Information Outlook in 2009, Stephen Abram wrote an article entitled "Start Now: 30 Days to Prepare for Your Next Position". One piece of advice is to update your resume. As you do that, consider whether the resume format you've been using is appropriate for you now. Most people create resumes where everything is in chronological order. While that's nice, it may not highlight your skills and accomplishments in the way a functional resume would. A functional resume works very well for those people who are looking to do something completely different and need to demonstrate that they have the correct skills to do it.
Here are a few more tips on resumes and cover letters:
- The cover letter should be customized and highlight information about you in relation to the job for which you are applying. If your cover letter reads like a "stock" cover letter, the hiring manager may think that you're not really interested in the position.
- Generally cover letters are one page in length, but a two-page cover letter is not unheard of. If your cover letter is more than one page, make sure that it is warranted.
- If you're serious about wanting the position, do a little search before you write the cover letter. It may help you customize the cover letter even further and will demonstrate that the organization and position are of interest to you.
- Everyone has different advice on the length of a resume. A resume of 2-3 pages will likely suffice. If you want a longer resume, consider first if there is someway of shortening it while keeping the most pertinent information.
- If you are applying for an academic position (e.g., professor), then your curriculum vitae may be extremely long (and appropriate).
- If you are unsure how long your resume should be, consult with a few colleagues especially those who have recently hired staff or been on search committees.
- Be aware of the language you use in both your cover letter and resume. For example, use action verbs. Jargon and buzz words can be appropriate, if the reader will understand them. For example, medical jargon might not be understood in a law firm.
- Be sure to talk about the positives in your career that will be meaningful to your potential employer. This might not be the size of your library, but rather the organizational money saved, contracts won, products brought to market faster (and a lower cost) — in other words, the impact of the work you have done.
- Even on resumes that are submitted electronically, headers and footers can be helpful since the resume (and cover letter) may be printed. If the hiring manager is printing several, that additional information will help the person keep the correct ones together.
SLA has resources on its web site (for members only) that can be very helpful to you. These include:
- Career Planning and Competencies
- Opinions and Perceptions of the Library Profession
- Salary Surveys
- Information Industry Job Resources
- Federal Job Resources
- Miscellaneous Internet Job Resources
Finally, if you are not job hunting, you should still be keeping your resume up-to-date. An investment of just 15 minutes can help you keep your resume polished and ready in case you need it.