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What to do when your job title doesn’t match your job responsibilities

I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates – even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. Eric Ries

A friend of mine asked for my help recently in composing her resume. She works as an Office Manager for a small business. In her role, she assumes all responsibilities of an Office Manager. In addition, she partners with the company owner to set policies, works with freelancers on marketing materials, serves as a liaison between vendors and shipping service companies, and conducts calls for sales leads that are collected at trade shows. In other words, her title doesn’t encompass all of her job responsibilities. Several potential employers have in fact had concerns about the difference in her title and her overall position in the company, wondering if she had exaggerated her responsibilities on her resume.

 

Many professionals run into situations where the title they have at their current job is so specific to the company that it carries no meaning outside of the organization, or it implies that they are a level or more below their actual work responsibilities. The difficulty we face in these situations is accurately accounting for our professional experience on our resume in order to advance in our careers. There is no easy way to address this as you want to remain truthful on your resume; you wouldn’t want your potential employer calling for a reference check and getting an impression you lied about your work history, do you?

 

There is a debate among professionals about listing job titles versus job functions on your resume. Some people prefer listing their title as it is, followed by a list of responsibilities, while others strongly prefer finding a way to rephrase your title to encompass your job function(s). The best option, however, is to find a happy medium and list your job title along with a few words that describe your job function, before you begin listing your job responsibilities.

 

First, let’s explore making changes to the job titles as you include them on your resume. If your title unusual, or very specific to the organization, you should try to find an equivalent title that is well accepted and understood within your industry. For example, if you work as a customer support representative supporting a specific product and your title contains the product name, you can simply list Product Support Representative on your resume. However, be careful not to exaggerate your title. Do not change your title so that it implies change in responsibility or salary level; do not change the area of the organization where you work, or change your title in a way that suggest you are directly reporting to a person in a higher position than that of your manager. Any such changes on your resume are dishonest, and will negatively impact your credibility with your potential employer.

 

If your title implies less responsibility than you hold, chose the middle ground option described above. List your actual title on your resume. For example, if you are a Product Support Representative but are also responsible for training new hires for your team, list your title as follows: Product Support Representative/Customer Support and New Hire Training. All you are doing here is elaborating on your job title by including a brief description of your job function. Following this title, make sure that your resume includes power statements describing your actual job responsibilities, in order of their importance and relevance to your career title. This method is preferred because you are honest about your title, but you are also indicating to your employer that your responsibilities are slightly different than what the title implicates. When background checks and reference calls are conducted, you will not have to worry about misrepresenting your title, or causing raised questions about your credibility. Above all, your resume must be honest. Do the best you can to remain objective when it comes to your job titles and functions – focus on the positives, and you are sure to have a winning resume.


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What will you do with the gaps in your work experience

I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates – even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. Eric Ries

What to do with gaps in your work experience?

Listing your professional experiences on your resume is a difficult task. There are so many elements to consider: job titles, time frames, key responsibilities, transferable skills, etc. The process becomes even more difficult if you have gaps in your work history. Your potential employer will not have a way of knowing why there is a three and a half year gap in your professional experience just by reviewing your resume, for example. The employer may wonder if you skipped over one of the jobs you held because it doesn’t meet your career objective, or they may assume that you didn’t work at all during the time frame that is unaccounted for on your resume. Any gaps in your employment history will need to be explained in writing; thus, don’t skip any information on purpose.

There are a few general rules about resume gaps:

–              Any unaccounted time that is shorter than three months doesn’t need to be explained. Having 60-90 days in between jobs is not too unusual, and often goes unnoticed within a resume. However, any gaps extending beyond three months should be addressed in your cover letter or e-mail. Whether you had personal or professional reasons for not working, the gaps in your employment history need to be explained as you don’t want to leave the employer to make their own assumptions.

–              Be honest! We can’t stress this matter enough. If you are honest with your potential employer, you will not have to worry about them checking your references, doing a background check, or surprising you with questions in an interview.

–              Don’t exclude months of your employment from the job listing. You are better off explaining the gaps in your resume than trying to cover them up. Honesty is really the best policy when it comes to your resume.

–              If you have held jobs that are not applicable to your career objective, list them on your resume anyway. Rather than create gaps in your resume, explain why you held jobs outside of your field in your cover letter or in an email to your potential employer. Again, whether the reasons are personal or professional, explain yourself honestly and don’t leave room for assumptions on the part of your potential employer.

–              Regardless of the reasons for the gaps in your professional history, it is important that the tone in your cover letter and your resume remains positive. Do not sound apologetic – life happens and you don’t need to be sorry for taking time off of work. Be positive, and show your potential employer that you never lost focus on your career.

 

While we all agree that life takes unexpected turns and respect that there will be circumstances that create gaps in our resumes, we can always consider the following actions in order to stay competitive within our field:

–              Apply our time and experience to volunteer positions, community projects, and consulting or freelance work.

–              Take a class at a community college or at the community center that improves your work-related skills and allows you to interact with people with similar professional backgrounds.

–              Read about the new developments in your field. Get a subscription to a professional publication/magazine, or get the newly published books that discuss changes or improvements in your profession.

Most of all, be honest and stay positive. You can’t change your work history, so do your best to show your employer you are a perfect candidate for the job by focusing on your experience and your education, highlighting your achievements and your qualifications.


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Chronological vs. functional resumes

I had a fairly enlightened dad, though if you looked at his resume, it might not seem that way. He was a chartered accountant for Price Waterhouse. He was strict, and we had a very ordered life. To this day, I am the least materialistic person I know, because my father didn’t raise me to just go out and buy this or that car. Hugh Jackman

A resume is a one- to two-page document summarizing your career objectives, professional experiences and achievements, and educational background.

 

While there are numerous ways to format your resume, there are two main resume styles: chronological and functional.

 

As its name implies, a chronological resume is one that lists your experience and education in order, starting with the most recent jobs or achievements. This type of resume is sometimes also referred to as reverse chronological resume, because the order of the listing starts with your current employment. This type of resume preferred – employers will want to know what job you currently hold so that they can better asses your qualifications for the job of your interest. The same is true for your education; your potential employer would rather know your most recent scholastic achievement. Listing your experience and education in reverse chronological order also shows your potential employer your overall career progress. It also helps in determining the length of employment at each organization, and indicates any gaps in your career (in case of gaps, make sure to address them in your cover letter as to not lead your employer to believe that you are omitting information on purpose). Chronological resume should list your current job, as well as two to four previously held positions. Don’t skip any employment information on purpose; if your employment history is long, or if you have held jobs further in the past that align well with your current career objective, you can address these qualifications in your professional profile or in your cover letter. Chronological resumes are the most commonly used style, and work best for anyone who has had some professional experience.

 

Functional resumes focus on your qualifications, not your career timeline. This style of the resume highlights what skills you have, rather than where and when you acquired or utilize them.  In other words, instead of listing your experiences by your job titles, your resume will contained sections titled by your skills such as verbal and written communication, customer satisfaction, project management, etc. This resume style is recommended for college students seeking internships or their first jobs out of college, for those with no professional experience, those who have not worked for some time, or for career changers. While potential employers will appreciate the overview of your skills, if you hold any professional experience, consider using the chronological resume, or a combination resume, over the functional format.

 

A combination resume, although not often discussed, has become a popular format in recent years. As its name implies, it is a combination of chronological resume style and functional resume style. This hybrid style allows professionals to highlight the qualification they have that are critical for the job of their interest, while at the same time listing employment and educational history in reverse chronological order. A word of caution – don’t try to do too much when using a combination resume by going over board with the type and number of sections you include in your resume. It is best to keep the information listed, even in the combination format, to what is relevant for the job.

 

Same rules apply for each style. Don’t exceed two pages, tailor your resume to your career objective and put your best foot forward in order to get the interview, and eventually the job.


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Qualifications – what do employers look for?

I’m the guy to call. Look at the resume. I have kids of my own. I have dogs. Jeff Daniels
When applying for jobs, it is important that you read through the job description thoroughly before submitting your application. A lot of what employers are actually looking for in their potential associate is written right in the job description and requirements. In fact, you should review your resume against the requirements listed in order to make sure you have covered everything the employer is looking for. If you can address all the requirements by the information in your resume or in your cover letter, you will be on the right track for getting the job.

However, there is a whole list of skills employers look for that are never spelled out in the job description. These skills are typically referred to as employability skills, which are skills beyond your technical knowledge and qualifications that make you a great professional in your field. Don’t panic, you already have employability skills, you just may not think of them as critical for getting a job.

The employability skills have been grouped in eight categories:

  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Initiative and enterprise skills
  • Planning and organizing skills
  • Self-management
  • Learning skills
  • Technology skills

Now that you have read the categories, you are thinking to yourself, yes, I have those skills. But did you ever think to list them on the resume? Most people focus on their professional achievements and responsibilities, and they often skip these skills in favor of those that are job specific. However, more and more employers look for these skills in resumes. Your potential employer wants to know that you are a team player, that you communicate well, and will show initiative when needed. While you may think this is implied by your interest in the available position, employers like to see these skills called out on your resume or cover letter.

The best way to demonstrate these skills is through your experience and under your qualifications. Point out the initiatives you have participated in that required you to work in a team, under a deadline, or as a self-starter. Demonstrate your loyalty through pointing out your accomplishments at an organization and how they benefited your team as a whole (not just you). You can showcase the employability skills in your cover letter by openly showing your enthusiasm for the available position, stating your commitment to your career objective, indicating your motivation and your integrity, and showing that you are above all un-selfish and credible. These skills are just as critical to your ability to do a great job as your professional experience and education – employers are looking for someone who will be a great fit on their team and in their organization, someone who works well under pressure but also has a sense of humor and has a balance between their personal and professional life.

Review your existing resume. Does it contain any employability skills? If not, make revisions to incorporate those employability skills you feel you excel in. If you are unsure, ask your friends or family for an objective opinion, so that you can get a better idea of how people around you see you as a person as well as a professional. Keep these attributes in mind as you compose your resume and your cover letter, and especially as you are taking part in interviews.  These skills can make a difference between knowing how to do a job and being qualified to exceed goals and grow in your career.


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Resources for resume examples

The internet was supposed to make this whole business of job searching rational and simple. You could post your resume and companies would search them and they’d find you. It doesn’t seem to work that way. There aren’t enough jobs for experienced, college educated managers and professionals. Barbara Ehrenreich
Writing a resume is a difficult task regardless of your level of experience with the process. While the content of your resume is critical to its effectiveness, the layout and the format you utilize are equally as important. To get started, you should research various resume styles and find out which best stouts your field. The biggest mistake people make when composing their resume is using a generic template provided in your text editing software, like Microsoft Word. These templates are usually outdated and very difficult to format, not to mention that they do not transfer well to online job applications. Avoid the quick-fix mentality of these resume templates, and invest some time in finding resources that will provide you with up-to-date helpful ways to compose a winning resume.

 

The easiest and least expensive way to find samples of resumes in your industry is to do a search on the internet. Before you get started, a word of caution: consider the sources of information before you decide to utilize any of their suggestions on your resume. You will come across web sites that promise to teach you how to write an exception cover letter in three and a half minutes. Don’t believe them. Unless you chose to hire a resume writing service, obtaining resources on resume writing should not cost you any money or obligate you to a long-term commitment. If unsure of the credibility on information you see, find another source and compare your findings.

 

A great online resource on resume composition is Monster.com. While they are mostly known for their job search database, they offer a variety of other information and services for those looking for employment. Under the Career Advice tab, you will find a wealth of information on your job search, salary requirements, advice by industry, and of course, information on perfecting your resume. In addition to articles about your job search and resume-related message boards, Monster’s Resume Center includes a variety of resume examples for professionals in a number of different industries. From administrative assistants to web designers, everyone can find a sample of a resume to fit their career objectives at:

 

http://resume.monster.com/archives/samples/

 

This page shows you samples of functional and chronological resumes, traditional resumes and sample cover letters. Take the time to review these samples. They are provided by a reliable source, so don’t be afraid to copy the formatting for your own resume (of course, do not copy the actual text from the resume).

 

If you already have a draft of your resume, and are looking to make updates or revisions, check out the Resume Makeovers for a great look at before and after resume of real professionals:

 

http://resume.monster.com/resume_samples/

 

It is important that you review these samples, even if the industry is not applicable to your line of work. They will teach you the basic dos and don’ts of resume writing – you can see why some things work and why others don’t, and be able to chose the best ways to highlight your qualifications.

 

Same school rules apply – do not copy someone else’s work. However, use these resources to your advantage and create the resume that presents you in the best light.


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Prioritizing job descriptions in your resume

Resume: a written exaggeration of only the good things a person has done in the past, as well as a wish list of the qualities a person would like to have. Bo Bennett

The most difficult and time consuming section of any resume is the listing of your work experience, no matter the level you have reached in your professional career. If you have just graduated college and don’t have any full-time professional experience, you are concerned if your part time job and summer internship are enough to get your foot in the door. If you are a seasoned professional with extensive work experience, you are worried how to fit all of your hard work on only one page. If you are changing careers, you are unsure which skills best showcase your qualifications. Listing work responsibilities on our resumes doesn’t get easier as our career progresses. The key is to consider your career objective and prioritize your work in accordance to your goals.

When people are asked about work responsibilities, they have a tendency to disclose the routine items first. This method can be a costly mistake for listing your professional experiences on your resume because it leaves all of the important and key qualifications at the bottom of the list.  To avoid falling into this practice, first put together a list of your responsibilities on a sheet of paper. For your initial draft, don’t worry about how you are phrasing each statement – just make a list of everything that you do in your current or have done in your previous jobs.

Once your list is completed, consider all of the responsibilities you have included. What are the three most important items on the list for each job? How do those items relate to your career objective? Are there any other responsibilities you have listed that better support your career objective than the three you picked as the most critical to your job? You have to consider all these questions in order to prioritize your job descriptions on your resume.

Begin each description with a power word, such as managed, developed, communicated, etc. Make sure that the statements you list first quantify your achievements – don’t be afraid to list sales figured, customer acquisition rates, budget and timeline successes, or any other figures which help put your responsibilities in a context of the business/field you are working in. Also, these statements should be aligned with your career objective. If you want to get a job in project management, letting your employer know that you managed a team of 20 people will effectively highlight your qualifications. It is important to quantify your job description statements on your resume; however, as a word of caution, do not quantify all statements, just one or two that are most critical to your job and are goal driven. This shows your employer that you think in terms of exceeding your goals. All subsequent descriptions of your responsibilities should support the first one or two items on your list.

Prioritizing doesn’t only apply to your job descriptions, although it is the most commonly disregarded element in this particular area of the resume. Achievements and qualifications are often misrepresented because they are not ordered properly. Same rules apply – consider which of your achievements and your qualifications are most complimentary to your career objective, and list them first. For example, if you are applying for a job in customer service, list your communication skills before your computer skills. While both are important, your communication skills are more in line with your career objective, and therefore should take priority.

 

As a final test, put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Cross-check the job description and make sure that you address the qualifications required for the job with the information on your resume. Let your potential employer know you have what they are looking for, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.


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3 ways to customize your resume to get the job that you want

It turns out that if you’re a 24-year-old whose only line on their resume says CEO, you are totally unemployable. Sam Yagan

While most resumes appear to look the same on the surface, there are key areas that differentiate well-written winning resumes from those that never make it into the hands of the hiring managers. To customize your resume for the job that you want, pay attention to the following three elements: resume style, career objective, and personal profile.

 

The layout and the style of your resume are as important as the information you are including about your experience and qualifications. The two most commonly used resume styles are chronological and functional. Chronological resume calls for listing your professional expertise in order, much like the name implies, and is used those with some to extensive professional experience. Functional resume showcases your experience by the type of qualifications you have, and is typically used by those lacking professional experience or those changing careers. While there are no set rules on determining the best resume style to use, it is important to keep in mind that the resume format can help or hurt your chances to put your best foot forward. You will want to pick the format that will best highlight your qualifications and your experience. Thus, it is important to understand the difference between the two, as well as research which format is more preferred in the field of your choice.

 

Career objective is very important to your resume. While there is an ongoing debate about the need for listing your objective on your resume, choosing to include this goal statement shows that you have given your professional growth some serious thought. Consider your career objective as the first impression you make on your potential employer. Make sure that your goals are specific and directional in terms of industry, position title, and future professional achievements. Most people make a mistake of including generic statements under their career objective. To be effective, your statement must tell a potential employer that you know what kind of job you want, what experience you have in order to get the position, and what you are willing do to become a successful professional with the company.

 

While your career objective tells your potential employer why you are applying for the job at their organization, your professional profile sells your expertise and convinces the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. Your professional summary/profile gives you the opportunity to differentiate yourself, and give your employer an insight into you. Two commonly made mistakes for this section of the resume are poor writing and inclusion of personal information. Note that your age, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliations, etc. do not make a difference on how you handle yourself as a business professional. Such information should never be included in a resume, or any job application materials (even when asked on a job application, such information is optional and is for demographics study only). Make sure this section is well written and error-free. Strong positive statements about your expertise will give a good first impression to your employer. Make sure to proofread the whole resume, with emphasis to this section, as it appears at the start of your resume. An effective personal statement must leave your employer with an impression that you are confident, credible, and professional.

 

Keep in mind – your resume is your sales pitch, demonstrating your qualifications and experience to your potential employer. Seize the opportunity to put your best foot forward and you will reap the rewards.


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Resume writing from scratch – how to get started

Yeah, I think on my resume it still says that – that I can juggle. Luke Kirby

Facing a blank page when you are trying to write a resume can be very scary. You may think that you don’t have enough to say about yourself to fill a page; you may be wondering just how to list all of your skills and experience within a single sheet of paper. To get started, ask yourself some questions about your past jobs and your career goals.

 

Before you even begin writing a resume, define the exact reasons why you need one. While this may sound simple, it takes more than saying, “I want to get a new job.” Consider your career objective first. Make sure that your goals are specific in terms of industry, position title, and future professional achievements. Once you are clear on the type of job you are seeking, it will be much easier to compose a resume that highlights your expertise in the area of your interest.

 

Once you have your career objective developed, do some research on a resume format that is most commonly used and may be most appropriate for your industry. Search the Internet or check out the books in your local library to get a better idea of what well-written professional resumes look like. Once you find a format that best suits your field and your career objective, use the same layout to get started.

 

When listing your personal information at the top of the resume, include your address, home and/or mobile phone number, and your email address. A helpful hint about listing your email address – make sure that it contains your name, as this helps you appear more professional. You can create a free Yahoo email account; it also maybe helpful to have one email address as a point of contact for your job search.

 

Before you begin listing your experiences, make sure to list them out on a separate sheet of paper, in chronological order, starting with the most recent job you had (possibly the job you are presently holding). List up to five previous jobs you have held, although make sure that your resume does not exceed two pages in length. Make sure that are listed in order; don’t skip any of your employments as this will create gaps in your professional history.

 

When listing your education, start with your college attendance and move to your most recent accomplishments. If you never attended college, make sure to include any courses, even if they were taken as training at your previous jobs, which will help in showcasing your qualifications. In terms of skills, make sure to list, in bullet point form, all of the abilities that confirm that you are the best candidate for the job you are seeking.

 

You can omit references from your resume, but let your potential employer know that you can provide them if necessary. You can do so in the cover letter or by including a line at the bottom of your resume that simply states, “Professional references available upon request.”

 

As your final check point, ask a friend or a family member to review your resume, and give you feedback. Having a second pair of eyes can help you correct any typos, or even bring to your attention anything that appears unclear or confusing. A well-written, error-free resume will help you put your best foot forward and get the job that exceeds your career goals.


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Great Books on Resume Writing

4 great books on resume writing

Yeah, I think on my resume it still says that – that I can juggle. Luke Kirby
Resume writing is a difficult task. While you can research information online, or seek assistance from a professional resume services, it is always helpful to have resources on hand that can assist in writing a new or rewriting your existing resume and/or cover letter. The following four books can provide you with a wealth of information on resume writing:

The first book you should consider is called The Elements of Resume Style. It was written by S. Bennett.

This book, as its cover states, will provide you with great advice on writing resumes and cover letters. Here, you will find valuable advice of working through and setting your career goals, marking your qualifications, delivering your resume to your employers and composing your cover letter. The author is not afraid to discuss the commonly made mistakes, the importance of knowing what you want to do in your career, sentence structure, and even salary requirements. This book makes for a great resource for both beginners and experienced resume writers.

The second book is titled Competency-Based Resumes and was written by two writers, Kessler and Strasburg.

Competency-Based Resumes is a great resource for professionals that are confident in their career objective and are searching for a more targeted way to develop their resume in order to get noticed in the specific industry of their interest. The book discusses techniques used by employers at various industries that scan resumes in order to determine applicant’s experience based on their work habits and skills. The book offers you a new and effective way to create resumes that makes your skills and your education the number one priority, and provides you guidelines of highlighting specific areas in order to create a winning resume.

 

The third book contains 101 Best Resumes and was written by Block and Betrus.

Members of the Professional Association of Resume Writers have come together to provide 101 best resumes for this book. The sample resumes included in this book will show you what winning resumes look like, and help you in creating an effective resume of your own that will get you the interview and the job. The book discusses personalizing your resume to positions that you want, highlighting your qualifications, developing your resume and writing cover letters. In addition, you will get some great advice on what to do once your resume is ready and how to win over your potential employer in an interview.

The last book of choice has Resumes That Knock ’em Dead and was written by Yate.

This bestseller will teach you everything you need to know to get started in resume writing. It is a perfect read for beginners as well as those who have not written a resume in a long time. The author discusses how to gather all the information you will need to get started with writing a resume, how to chose the verbs you include in your statements, select the appropriate format and how to go about submitting your resume via email or the Internet. In addition, this book provides a great sag-way into cover letters, and how to create one that best compliments your resume.

Each of these books can be found in your local bookstore or your library. They provide more than a great starting point; you can hold on to these books and use them as ongoing resources as you move forward in your career.


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Printed resume – Dos and Don’ts

Resume: a written exaggeration of only the good things a person has done in the past, as well as a wish list of the qualities a person would like to have. Bo Bennett
As professionals, we rely on the Internet to search for jobs and on e-mail to apply for them. We create our resumes and cover letters to fit the electronic format, so it is not a surprise that having to print out a resume can result in concerns and mistakes.

 

First, let’s discuss when a printed resume is needed. While you are completing numerous job applications online, you still need to have a printed resume to bring on an interview with you. You also must keep in mind that it is very likely your potential employer will print out your resume from a job search web site or from the message you sent expressing your interest in the job. Thus, it is very important that you print out a test copy before submitting your resume to employers to assure the layout is what you want it to be.

 

As a rule, when printing out your resume, make sure to use white or ivory paper. You can get a stack of resume paper at any office supplies store. You will want your resume to appear as clean and professional. Do not use color paper, or change the color of the font in order to make your resume stand out; your employer will find this unprofessional and childish, which is not the first impression you want to make. If your resume is longer than one page, print out multiple pages. Don’t print on the front and the back of a single page; rather, include headings in your resume file, indicating page numbers and print each page on its own sheet of paper. You should not have any handwriting on your resume; make sure that page numbers are in fact printed along with the rest of the resume content.

 

Make sure that you let your resume sit on the printer for a few moments before picking it up. This will help you avoid smudging the ink of the paper, especially if you are using an Ink Jet printer. You want to assure that the resume doesn’t have any smudging, stains, or crumpling when you are handing it to your potential employer. First impressions are important – you don’t want yours to be that of someone who is sloppy and careless.

 

When going in for an interview, you should bring multiple copies of your resume with you. Some people think this is not necessary because your potential employer already has your resume. This is a common misconception. You should always have several copies of your resume printed out and with you when at an interview. Often times, the hiring manager may ask another associate to meet you during the interviewing process, and he/she may not have a copy of your resume. Having extras makes you look professional, prepared and organized, which helps you set your best foot forward. Additionally, it is helpful that the copy of the resume you bring in for an interview has a complete list of references. You can include the references directly on your resume (typically at the bottom of the page), or you can include a separate sheet of paper with the list. The first option is preferred, because it provides the employer with all of the critical information about you in one place. Including your references preempts the employer from asking you for this information; it also shows that you are seriously interested in the available position.

 

Having a well-formatted, clean and professional resume will only help you make a great first impression, and help you get the job you are truly interested in.