Resume Tips and Tricks

By Martha K. Sippel

In our technical communication profession, a clean, concise resume is essential. It is often the first impression many people have of you, so I cannot emphasize this enough. If there is one mistake, your resume likely will end up in the electronic or physical trash can. After you run spell check, ask an editor you respect to review your resume to make sure that you didn’t make a mistake. As we all know, spell check is not infallible. It’s imperative that you have a second set of eyes look at something as important as your resume.

First, do your homework. Evaluate the position you are applying for and research the company. In other words, analyze your audience! Make your resume stand out to the hiring manager or find an inside contact to be even more effective.

Next, make your resume visible. There are several ways to do this, but online is the likeliest scenario. If employers cannot find your resume online, you simply will not be considered for unadvertised positions. Posting online may be an issue if you are gainfully employed, but you can be selective about where you post it. Consider posting your resume on job boards, LinkedIn, and possibly your own personal website or blog. Be aware that others may steal your innovative resume ideas, so you have to weigh this against being visible.

As technical communicators, we should have multiple versions of our resumes. Target your resume to a specific job posting. For example, you may be a manager, a project manager, or perform usability tasks in addition to other roles. Many technical communicators fulfill more than one role, so highlight and identify your appropriate skills on each targeted resume.

Provide the basics: education, experience, technology knowledge, and skills are essential. There is continuing debate about whether an objective is required. Some experts say, “Absolutely not!” and others say, “Describe what you want in one or two brief sentences customizing your wants and needs and targeting the specific job posting.”

Include relevant key words in your resume and accurately describe what you do. When a recruiter or an employer searches for candidates, they generally use key words. Use key words that describe what you do and represent your experience. People expect to find you have the expertise that exemplifies the key words they use in their search.

How much information is too much? Be concise, but provide enough details to hook your reader. This is standard practice for writers, right? Provide enough detail to present your skills. But don’t go on too long or the employer won’t have a reason to call you in for an interview! Avoid the temptation to list every project you have worked on. Pretend you are writing an executive summary and provide key points so your reader is interested to learn more.

Employers or clients want to see results, so this is one time you should toot your own horn. Demonstrate what you have done and what you can do for them!

Related article: Which Resume Format is Best? by Martha K. Sippel

About Martha Sippel

Martha Sippel is an STC Fellow who has developed and presented compelling, accurate technical material for more than 35 years. She consistently receives recognition for her contributions, from the Distinguished Chapter Service Award to international awards for her work on CH2M HILL's intranet and was recognized for being an outstanding mentor to STC's Charlotte Regional Chapter. Martha is a board director for the Park Meadows Metropolitan District, a South Suburban Park Foundation (501c3) board trustee, a Certified Interpretive Guide (National Association for Interpretation or NAI), and volunteers for the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA), STC Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC), and her HOA. She served as a City of Lone Tree Planning Commissioner from 2008-2015. As Principal of AzuWrite LLC, she helps design effective user interfaces for websites and web applications and provides user experience, usability, and information architecture expertise to clients.
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