Although you may write individual resumes for different jobs to which you're applying, it saves a lot of time to have a universal resume to use as a template. Additionally, if you've ever attended a career fair, you may have struggled to craft a resume that you could hand out to potential employers, as it needs to be specific to the industry but not specific to any one job. Discovering how to make your resume universally applicable will make the job application easier and less time-consuming, alleviating stress next time you need to submit a resume.
Start off by providing your name and contact information, with your name in a bigger font so that the employee will remember who you are. If you want to include a purpose, make it very general, such as "To obtain employment as a pharmaceutical sales representative." Don't be too specific about the job title so that the purpose can be applicable to any job to which you are applying. Next, present your relevant experience in the industry, education, skills, awards and presentations/publications. If you don't have any experience in the industry, list any other employment experience, community service or leadership experience. Since your resume is universal, don't focus on any particular qualifications that would give you experience for a specific job title, but rather focus on your qualifications as a whole.
All employers want to see that you've produced deliverables, so provide exact numerical values to show your accomplishments. Saying, “edited several documents” won’t have the same impact as “edited 45 reports and case studies.” You don't necessarily need to use complete sentences as long as you use appropriate grammar and are able to convey the pertinent information. Avoid difficult to read fonts and keep your text between 10 and 14 point font for better readability.
Be Clear and Concise
The average recruiter spends only six seconds looking at a resume to make a decision about whether to pursue a candidate for employment, according to a 2012 study conducted by The Ladders career site. Keep your resume to no more than one page so that the recruiter or potential employer will have time to review all of your qualifications. If you feel the need to provide further information about any of the job experiences you've listed, do so in two or three brief bullet points. Don’t embellish or exaggerate, as this simply wastes space that you could have used for conveying factual information. Even if employers don’t see through the exaggerations initially, later in the application process you may be asked to provide proof of the items on your resume.
Write, Edit, Rewrite
After composing your resume, wait at least an hour and take a second look. Review your resume to be sure that it is applicable to any job to which you might apply and doesn't focus on your qualifications for one particular job. Your resume is the first impression the employer will get of you, so check that all of the information is accurate and there are absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes. Ask a friend or family member to read your resume and offer any suggestions for improvement. If you know someone who works in the industry in which you're interested, have them look over your resume so you can make sure it's applicable to the jobs in the field.
- Bucknell Career Development Center: Creating an Effective Resume
- Rutgers University Human Resources: Preparing a Resume and Cover Letter
- The Ladders: Keeping an Eye on Recruiter Behavior
- UC San Diego Careers Services Center: Writing an Effective Resume
- U.S. Department of Labor: Create an Effective Resume
Natasha Hochlowski holds a dual B.S. in chemistry and writing from Loyola University Maryland. She has been writing professionally since 2007, frequently contributing to "The Journal of Young Investigators," and has worked as a technical writer/editor for several major pharmaceutical companies.