"On your resume, scholarly works are like beautiful flowers, and translations (of these works) are like green leaves. If you have only translations, it won't look promising."

Haili Kong, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 8, 2000, p. A24


Job intelligence documents need preparing even more with any downturns in the economy. This link will break the sections into resume preparation, cover/application letter emphasis, and other employment communication concerns, including Internet tools.

Sharpen Up Your Resume

The resume still remains the central sales document for obtaining that interview. Resumes cannot be taken for granted. Certain central themes emerge in preparing any resume. They are:

Big Four Accounting Firms Prefer Particular Style

Selected students and faculty have told me for the last few months that selected Big Four accounting firms prefer particular points on their resumes. For example, let's take the issue of placing grade point average (GPA). You need two averages for the selected Big Four resumes:

Accounting grade point average, regardless of its numbers
Overall university grade point (the main GPA).

Selected Big Four prefer the hobbies and interests to be listed. They want to know what kind of person you are. Placing these hobbies on the resume means you have something to discuss during the interview besides the job. I personally agree with professional resume preparers who do not recommend hobbies, unless these hobbies relate to the position. The employers always have in their minds about how much work you are going to accomplish for the company. Selected Big Four disagree. Let's say someone places the following hobbies on the resume:

Bowling, stamp collecting, and golf.

If a selected Big Four recruiter looks at the list, the interviewer would prefer to see "golf" first. Golf conjures a person who is a team member and gets along well on the course. The selected Big Four firm is stressing image.

Let's next talk about computer skills . I always encourage my students to place their computer skills in a particular category on the resume. Also, they are encouraged to list the versions of the programs. In a Big Four resume you might find the following list:

Word Perfect, Excel, Access, Word

The selected Big Four firms would look askance at the listing. "Word" should come first. Why? That is the word processing program the selected Big Four firm uses. Therefore, know that most of these firms will use Microsoft products.

Confine Your Resume to the Pages Needed

Every semester I am asked how many pages to make the resume. Lately, a great deal of e-mail traffic from PRWRA (Professional Resume and Writing Research Association) has been generated with the same question. Resumes have changed, along with everything else, in a tight job economy. I was always taught to have a one-page resume. You say what you have to say and stop. In the last few years I have advocated a two-page resume if the important information cannot be confined to one page.

The issue becomes one of what the applicant needs to say. If you have an executive who has been looking for a position for the last six months, a three-page resume may be in order. The first pages should always reflect the most important data, but the executive may want to elaborate on the critical positions and decisions made under difficult circumstances. To paraphrase one of the e-mails from a resume writing service, you say what you need to say and stop. That might be a resume longer than two pages. "Say what you have to say, and no more." That is technically good advice, because a tight job market suggests making certain sure all knowledge and skills are sold appropriately.

You never want to fill your resume full of filler. Make every word count, and emphasize those work keywords. Most resume reviewers, if they are interested in the applicant, will take the time to peruse the resume and find whether the qualifications make a good fit.

Set the Equation for the Format to Use

The age-old question remains: What format should I use for preparing or revising my resume? The answer still continues: use the reverse chronological format. As Joyce Lain Kennedy (author of eight books on careers and resumes as well as columnist for the Tribune papers)explains, you need to use the reverse chronological format with the "most recent job titles as a saavy writer." Also, if you have worked for big-name companies and recent employers, you will improve your chances by using the chronological format. Employers expect to see the chronological format.

However, instances may occur where you need to consider the functional format. Again, Joyce Lain Kennedy comes to your rescue by suggesting the functional for "managing inconsequential jobs and being older than many people in the workforce." However, employers will look askance at the functional format. They still possess the idea that the applicant is trying to hide something. Gaps will occur in applicants' backgrounds, and you must be willing to address those discrepancies in the interview.

Find Your Cross-Over Skills

Joyce Lain Kennedy as a syndicated career columnist talks a great deal about data mining your transitional or cross-over skills. Sometimes, these skills are referred to as traveling skills, because they travel with you from job to job. They are considered your unique skills for any position. You need to pick out your skills and competencies.

Richard Bolles, the famous guru of job search and author of numerous editions of Color Your Parachute, tells a story about an applicants who wanted to combine psychology, plants, and carpentry. First, this individual had to think about what attributes go with each of these subjects. It requires patience to work with plants. The applicant mused: I can build plant boxes. Psychology requires planning and insight. Working with carpentry requires perfection. Slowly, the applicant began to weave a pattern of unique skills that could be offered to an employer.

Suppose someone has been out of the workforce for a number of years and participated as a housewife. This persons offers:

Already, the individual housewife sees her time as a mother, wife, and provider has not been wasted. Now, turn those unique skills into a productive job opportunity.

Sharpen Up Your Cover/Application Letters

The application/cover letter represents the second step in getting that interview and obtaining that special position. The application letter goes hand in glove with the resume and should probably be sent at the same time to the employer. Therefore, never forget that the application letter is the highest form of sales document, because it sells you. For additional insight about application letters and the challenge of teaching them, please refer to the monthly column, "From the Classroom," shown on the Professional Resume Writing and Research Association website. Again, a checklist may be in order to emphasize the different letter parts of the application as well:

Sharpen Up Your Application/Cover Letter Basics

Now you have looked at your application, and you are not happy with it. You have reviewed the checklist. What could I have done better? Look first at the organization of the letter. Look at these four-paragraph developments:

CSP Sharpens Focus on Application/Cover Letter

When students are asked to form a CSP for their application letter, they look at me quizzically. What is a CSP? CSP means Central Selling Point, or what makes you unique as an individual or a product. You need to answer the CSP to write a better application letter than your competitor. You form a focus with the CSP.

Certain people do not take the thinking of CSP seriously. They say: "I am an ambitious person." Isn't that a Central Selling Point? No, that is a personality characteristic. Ambitious people (or think they are)are a dime a dozen. Where has your ambition led you? What do you do with your ambition? The CSP is written again: "Ambitious person in selling banking services with a strong emphasis on customer service." Ah, now we are getting somewhere. You have started to pinpoint the CSP with specifics and a theme that could be woven throughout the application letter. One would expect to see a story about customer service emphasis in the second paragraph on building the employer's interest.

Now, what is your CSP? What makes you unique as an applicant for a particular position? What qualities and characteristics can you sell to the prospective employer?

Kill a Letter with Certain Phrases

All the time new books are being published about Application/Cover Letters. The Krannichs (Ron & Caryl)have one of the most intriguing books called Nail the Cover Letter!: Great Tips for Creating Dynamite Cover Letters (Impact Publications, 2005). In this book they provide a section on closing thoughts or phrases that will kill a cover/application letter. Let's share their thoughts: