Many job candidates feel that the interview process doesn't start until their first phone or in-person interview. Employers review candidates based on their resumes and the backgrounds on those resumes. This means that your first interview is conducted without any personal contact with the interviewer. To maximize your potential to get an in-person or phone interview, your resume background must be well organized and designed to sell your skills for the job.
The background on your resume is your opportunity to make a sales pitch to a potential employer. The background section on a resume is an area that employers look to see what type of work you have done in the past and if the skills you learned or exhibited in that job would transfer well to the position they are seeking to fill. Resume backgrounds also provide your educational background. Employers look at one's education background to see if the applicant has taken coursework that would be beneficial for the available position.
Your resume background should include several very important items. In the education portion of your resume, it should include the schools you attended, any degrees you received and the years you attended school. This will help an employer determine how recent your college coursework is, and how well you performed in those areas which might interest the employer.
Include your work experience as well. In this section, list any skills that would transfer well to the open position. Also include any universal skills such as leadership or management that you have demonstrated in that position as well. List any tasks you performed and feel would be similar to those required at the position.
Choose three skills you have that you feel apply well to the job position. Make sure you highlight these skills in your past work experience. You don't have to list each of them under every employer, but each skill should be mentioned at least once.
Creating a resume background requires careful attention to the time frame it covers. There should be no gaps on your resume of extended periods of time without either employment or attending an educational institution. Do not leave off employers just because you do not feel they will fit with the type of employment you are seeking. A time frame with no educational or employment experience raises questions from an employer. This increases the possibility of your application being denied before you have a chance to interview and explain those missing time periods.
Review your resume background and write down just the dates of each position on a piece of scrap paper. Look at these dates and search for any gaps. If there are gaps that are not covered in either your work experience background or your educational background, you should address them in a cover letter. Planning on explaining those gaps in the interview itself is not enough.
Creating your resume background is a chance for you to introduce your skill set to your potential employer. Design the resume around the type of position you are applying for. If it is a technical job, list job tasks for previous employers that deal with computers and technical thinking. If it is a sales job, lists tasks that emphasize your ability to sell and interact with other people. Management jobs should highlight your managerial experience. When creating your resume background, you should view this as your first interview in a sequence of interviews for the position.
Change your goal section on each resume you submit to be tailored to the particular position. In your background section, you may also add a short section listing other skills you have. These should be listed based on the individual position. For an office job with lots of computer work, list the computer applications you are proficient in. For a programming job, list the programming languages you are experienced in. For sales positions, list any large clients you have signed to sales contracts in other jobs.
If you are using the same resume for many different positions, make sure you proofread it for each application. Check to see if you can add additional features that would apply to the position. Remember to remove any tasks or skills that are not related to the position you are applying for. Employers can tell when a resume is sent out in mass. Position crafted resume backgrounds are more likely to stand out when employers make their decision about which applicants to interview.
Write the background section from scratch for each resume. This might be time consuming, but it can save you from costly errors like references to skills not applicable to the particular position. Always check your "goal" section as well. This is where many applicants fail to make a change for different positions on their resume. A goal unrelated to the position you apply for will turn off a perspective employer.