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Writing Your Resume? Consider These Tips

resumeOver the last 18 months, Patton McDowell & Associates has conducted over 20 searches within the nonprofit sector. The roles have ranged from Executive Directors to Directors of Development to Directors of Communications & Engagement. In each search process, PMA has been exposed to dozens of resumes.

While it may seem obvious, your resume is the first introduction and impression an organization has of you. A solid, effective resume can greatly improve your chances of landing your dream nonprofit job. Utilize these seven suggestions when writing or updating your resume.

  1. Focus on the Objective: Think of the objective as your personal mission statement. This is usually the first part of the resume that an employer, search committee or search firm will review. Clearly identify the type of position you are looking for, while describing how your experience will best fulfill the needs of the organization.
  2. Consider the Appearance: While you want your resume to stand out from the crowd, it should be based on your merits and not by using special fonts, colored paper, or other gimmicks. No matter how fun you might find cursive font and red-colored typeface, it is distracting to the reader. Keep the size of the font between 11 and 12 point. Too small will make it difficult to read, and too big makes it look unprofessional.
  3. Keep it concise: One of the biggest misconceptions out there regarding resumes is that it should be kept to one page. Once a person reaches a certain point in his or her career, it’s difficult to keep it to a single page. However, don’t go writing a ten-page resume either! Employers and recruiters want an initial overview of your work experience, education and community involvement. When highlighting previous work, describe the responsibilities and achievements that have the most relevance to the position for which you are applying.
  4. Utilize statistics and achievements: While the responsibilities that you held during previous jobs are important to understand, listing these under each job can be boring. More important is showing a correlation between your responsibilities and advancing the organization’s mission and goals. If you’re applying for a fundraising position, describe how well you did against the goals that were provided to you – or overall dollar figures that you feel would help you stand out from the crowd.
  5. Stay away from templates: One resume does not fit each job and organization. If applying for multiple jobs, obviously it would be easier to have a “one size fits all” resume. But, even if applying for similar jobs at multiple organizations, it will show your understanding of the job and organization if you tailor the resume and cover letter to each position for which you are applying.
  6. Proofread your resume: Using bad grammar or misspelled words is the easiest way to have an employer toss your resume off to the side. Review the resume closely and have another person read it over as well. If you’re applying for multiple positions at once, make sure your cover letter includes the correct contact information of the potential employer. Sometimes this key detail can get lost in the shuffle when applying for multiple jobs.
  7. Be truthful: If you add responsibilities that you never had to your resume, one way or another, someone will find out that it’s not true. Background and reference checks are likely to bring these inconsistencies to light. Lying on a resume or even in an interview will become an automatic exit from the interview process.

For more information regarding our current searches, please visit the Executive Search page of the PMA website. Maybe your resume will come through our email box one day, and these tips will lead to an interview?