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Candidate Resume Tips

Preparation of a resume is an essential element in a successful job search. Quite simply, the resume acts as the initial introduction of your background and accomplishments to a potential employer. The main purpose of your resume during a job search is to elicit an invitation for the interview. Its style, format and thoroughness have a significant impact on your chances.

Some recommendations are summarized below.

The following elements should be considered essential:

Contact Information
Name, address, phone number and email address
If you list contact information at work, you imply that you are available to talk at your office.

Educational Background
Degree, major/field, school, date of graduation
With multiple degrees, list most recent degree first and work backwards.

Occupational Experience
For technical openings, this section is most critical since most employers hire based on recent relevant experience.
Again, list the current or most recent experience first.

In this section, always include:

Certifications, Honors and Society Memberships
As applicable to your job field

The elements below should be considered optional:

Do not use unless they enhance your chances of obtaining an interview:

Job/career objective

This statement should be worded carefully to avoid elimination based on the job objective alone. Concentrate on what you wish to do, not what you wish to be. It is usually placed immediately after your name and address information. It makes an important first impression.

A summary of experience, skills and strengths

Usually placed before the education and experience sections

Date of availability

Willingness to relocate

Reasons for leaving jobs

Important if changes have been frequent

Language abilities

A list of publications, presentations, etc.

May be included, but can be attached as separate addenda


Also may be included, but you should control this by making "available on request"

US visa/citizenship status

Other Considerations:

Avoid including any reference to activities that are tied to a particular cause, race, religion or nationality or your age/birth date. Federal and state laws disallow selection on the basis of these kinds of information. Therefore, they should not be part of a resume.

A common point of concern is the appropriate length of a resume. Most technical resumes are longer than one page and less than four pages (excluding addenda/publications). Except in unusual circumstances, longer resumes probably provide more detail than is necessary, while one page summary resumes often do not provide sufficient information.

For more information and examples of resume styles, visit:

Candidate Interview Tips

Often, job seekers spend innumerable hours preparing resumes, writing cover letters, making phone calls, examining career options and then proceed to the interview with their fingers crossed, hoping for good fortune to smile upon them. Instead of relying on luck, specifically preparing for an interview visit can positively influence the outcome. Simply put, effective preparation for an interview can make the difference between a job offer and a rejection letter.

Generally speaking, decisions to hire are seldom based strictly on technical qualifications and experience, but to a large degree on the "fit" of the candidate within the organization. The most technically competent person available isn’t likely to be hired by a company in which they will have difficulty communicating with their colleagues, participating as a team member, etc. If this were not true, no interview would be necessary, hiring decisions would be made on the basis of resume credentials alone. Thus, interview dialogue usually focuses on discerning that "fit". Also, remember that while the applicant must make the best possible presentation for their potential employer, this is an opportunity for the candidate to interview the company as well. Through the interview process, the applicant should assess how well they will fit into the new environment, and what career opportunities exist there.

The following topics provide information on various aspects of interview preparation.

Prior to the Interview:

When an interview is scheduled, a candidate should do everything in his/her power to learn about the company and its employees. If the company is publicly traded, obtain a shareholder annual report which provides financial and product information. If the company is not public, it should still have marketing or product literature which is worth reviewing. Whether public or private, virtually all companies have a presence on the Internet.

One should obtain and study a job description and consider carefully how their skills and experience fit into the advertised role. Additionally, information may be available on the interviewers either from a recruiter, literature searches, current or past company employees, Internet searches, etc. Having some sense of an interviewer’s background and personality generally makes for an easier conversation.

Questions to be Prepared For:

It is strongly recommended that interviewees carefully draw up a comprehensive list of questions they anticipate being asked, and that they mentally rehearse their answers to those questions. Most skilled interviewers will ask thought provoking questions concerning your goals, professional aspirations, sense of personal strengths, weaknesses, and related matters. Generally, if one prepares their answers to such questions in advance of the interview, surprises are unlikely. The more effort put into the preparation for the interview, the more comfortable and prepared the applicant will feel, and the more likely the interaction with the interviewer(s) will be successful.

One of the most difficult questions to prepare for concerns the anticipated compensation package. One should avoid mentioning a specific number unless pressed to do so. Revealing present compensation and indicating hope that company provided an offer with appropriate monetary incentive as well a challenging work environment and growth potential is usually a good response.

There are many approaches to interviewing job candidates across the field. One that is becoming more popular is the behavioral interview technique. When invited for an interview, the candidate should ask if it will be based on behavioral interviewing because there are specific ways to prepare. Typically in this process the interviewer asks a three part question; "give an example of when ____, how did you deal with this, what was the outcome?" This follows the model; "situation, action, result." There are many web sites available that can offer more specific information, and numerous sample questions to practice answering.

Finally, a few specific suggestions: Don’t over-rehearse. Try not to recite memorized paragraphs in response to anticipated questions. To some extent, spontaneity and authenticity are important during the interview process. The interviewers will want to see a candidate who can "think on their feet" and who can be flexible. Also, answer the question that was asked, not the one you wish had been asked. Do not hesitate to request that a question be repeated or clarified. If it is still unclear, ask for guidance as to what a specific question is seeking. If the response to a question has gone off course, ask if the interviewer would like you to answer in a different way. Make the process interactive, don’t just be a passive observer during the interview.

Questions to Ask:

Carrying your part of the dialogue is no less important than responding appropriately to questions you are asked. Even though many interview discussions are dominated by the prospective employer, it is very important to prepare a list of questions to ask during your visit. These questions should focus on the career opportunity, professional growth, duties, working relationships and company objectives. Carefully crafted questions will convey an interest in the company as well as in the particular working group to which you are applying. Any questions pertaining to compensation, vacation, benefits etc. should be saved for future interactions. Asking an interviewer about their background, management style or perspective on the company is usually a good topic of discussion. Again, this is the opportunity for the applicant to assess how the company can support their lifestyle and career goals.

Interview Wrap-Up and Follow-Up:

It is entirely appropriate to close an interview discussion by asking the decision maker about the timing and next step in their process. If the visit has gone well, you should let the interviewer know of your interest in the position. Be specific regarding what interests you about the company and the position. Offering references is another reasonable thing to do. A letter or email to key people you met with, thanking them for their time, is always appropriate, but be concise.