Butlersguild

A GREAT RESUME IS ESSENTIAL!

It pays to spend some time making yours shine. To help you in your efforts, we have put together a few pointers.

You have to remember that your resume is partly about you and partly about the person who's reading it! Once you know your relevant skills for the kind of job you're seeking, make the necessary changes to make them more readily apparent to readers.

It's always up to you to make the connection between your skills and the job you want so obvious that the employer can't miss it, and, of course, you need to tweak what's in the resume every time you send it to another, different recipient.

A resume is traditionally defined as a brief summary of your skills, education, experience, personal qualifications and information which an employer would want to know when considering you as a candidate for a job. (Resumes are sometimes used for purposes such as school applications, scholarships and various other occasions in which a brief presentation of your background is required).

There are a lot of people with very strong opinions about what a resume should or should not be. We believe that the truth is that there is no right or wrong format. You have two, three or four pages for a resume and cover letter in which you must communicate your uniqueness, personal motivation, and skills. You must decide what you want to communicate.

The one versus two page dilemma is a constant point of concern. Years ago, the "Resume God" said "Let your resume be one page." And it was law. But times have changed, the competition is fierce, and you must make every attempt to aggressively "sell" your qualifications. If two pages (or three, or four) is required, so be it. You will find that the response to your job search campaign will be directly dependent upon how well you've marketed your qualifications and achievements; not on number of pages. Particularly in Private Service, employers and agencies appreciate receiving plenty of information from candidates.

It usually takes 10 to 15 drafts to perfect your resume. So spend some time writing, getting advice, and then writing some more. The result will be a resume and cover letter that you feel good about.

Before You Write

Take some time to pull together all the background information that you have about yourself. We suggest keeping a file of this information for future reference. Include data of previous employment, rates of pay, promotions, achievements, honors and course lists. Keep copies of all of your resumes and any other employment correspondence.

There are many different kinds of resumes. The two most common formats are:

  • Chronological: an arrangement of your qualifications in reverse chronological order, that is, the most recent information listed first. This is the resume format that most employers prefer.
  • Functional: an arrangement by skills and abilities possessed. This style is often used by career changers and people who do not have enough relevant work experience.

Writing a Resume

There are several fundamental guidelines about resume writing. 

  • Design you resume so that it says the most about you in the fewest words. One page is recommended, but some people require two or more.
  • Be consistent with your form - margins, underlining, and capitalizing. Use white space, bold type, italics, etc., to draw the reader's eye down the page.
  • Proofread for typing and spelling accuracy (over and over again!).
  • Keep it relevant. Only items leading directly to setting up the interview process should be a reason for everything that you want to include. Salary requirements, abbreviations, reasons for leaving jobs, and personal opinions are usually excluded.
  • Both a resume and a cover letter should be examples of your best work. Stress those things that are most positive about you and eliminate the more negative.
  • Be specific about dates, job titles, employers, interests, and accomplishments. Be complete, descriptive and specific without being too long. Always be truthful and accurate without exaggeration or distortion.
  • Use "results" or what are often called Action Verbs in describing your experience on your resume or in an interview. Words such as administered, coordinated, developed, supervised, consulted, managed, and prepared, are keys in telling employers (verbally or in writing) what you have accomplished.
  • Use what is called the telegraphic style. Omit all personal pronouns (I, we, etc.).

Organizing Your Resume
The following items are commonly included in the resume:

Heading.
Include your name, address, ZIP code, e-mail address and telephone number with area (plus country) code at the top of the first page: only your name should appear on any subsequent pages.

Career Objective.
Objectives on a resume should only be included if you can be specific about the position and family in which you are seeking employment. Otherwise omit it and state your objective in your cover letter, tailoring it to the particular family to which you are writing.

Education.
Put your most recent degree or course and date of completion first. List your high school. Usually your degree, major, and graduation date will be listed on the first line and the name of the university will follow on the second line. With my company we want any information we can get our hands on!

Experience.
Again, most recent information should be listed first. Layout is extremely important. It is usually helpful to indicate your job title, then the name of your employer, followed by dates of employment. Next describe your contribution to the position and/or the responsibility you assumed. Attempt to relate such information in laymen's terms (size of family, number of persons supervised etc.). Be sensitive to the person who may read your resume; she/he may not be familiar with the jobs you describe. Job descriptions are not as important as what you accomplished or achieved. Sometimes it is useful to end this section with a summary paragraph to cover unrelated positions if space is limited. Such a condensation of work experience might show past flexibility as well as willingness to perform routine as well as challenging tasks.

Activities, Honors, and Awards.
This section would include university and/or community activities, relevant memberships, offices held, scholarships and other related honors. For clarification, it may be necessary to give short descriptions of the nature or purpose of some organizations or awards, honor societies or service organizations.

Personal.
This category is good to include. Do not offer information you feel can be used to discriminate against you in a paper screening process. You may want to list hobbies and interests to show diversity and to provide additional topics for conversation during the interview.

References.
For initial interviews, references are not usually required on your resume unless specifically requested. For your convenience, it is suggested that you have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your references listed separately for future use. You should secure the permission of anyone you choose to use as a reference before giving his/her name. If possible, you should use employers as references. Do not use character references, e.g., parents etc. Provide your references with a copy of your resume so that you can discuss the details of your background more fully. When you apply for a position through an agency you should include references.

After you complete your resume, read it over and have others critique it. You should review: 

  • Overall appearance. Does it make you take notice and want to read it?
  • Layout. Does it look professional, neat and well typed?
  • Length. Could it tell the same story if shortened?
  • Relevance. Has extraneous material been eliminated?
  • Writing Style. Is it easy to get a picture of your qualifications?
  • Results Terminology. Have you used action verbs in your job descriptions?
  • Specificity. Avoid generalities and focus on specific information about experience, projects, numbers, level of responsibility, etc.
  • Accomplishments. Are your accomplishments and skills emphasized?
  • Completeness. Have you omitted anything important?
  • Will your resume make the employer ask you to an interview?

THE COVER LETTER

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and personalize your resume. It also serves to interest an employer and encourage an interview.

Content

A cover letter must be typed using business letter format.
The opening sentence should state the purpose/objective of the letter.
If possible use a personal reference to indicate how you heard about the position or family.
Specify how your educational background can contribute to the job and the family.
Emphasize your particular interest for this family in a few short sentences.
Be sure to mention what motivates and interests you about the position.
Close the letter with a reference to the enclosed resume and specifically request a personal interview.

A cover letter is sent to "cover" (accompany) your resume. It is a standard introductory letter, usually responding to a known job opening. It is designed to let the family see you as a unique individual whose interests and experiences match the needs of his/her family.

Salutation
Address the letter to a specific individual and address the letter to him/her specifically whenever possible.

First Paragraph
State the reason for your letter with attention-getting self-confidence. Be creative within the bounds of good taste and professionalism. Include the type of job title of the position you are seeking. Mention how you became aware of the position, especially if it was through a mutual acquaintance.

Middle Paragraph(s).
Refer to the enclosed resume and any facts within it that you want the employer to especially notice. It is at this point that you should identify that you are exactly what they need by:

  • explaining what you know about the family and its needs,

  • mentioning what motivates and interests you about the position, and

  • showing how your skills, experiences, educational background, and personal characteristics can help meet those needs.

Closing Paragraph
Thank the employer for their consideration and express your interest in being granted an interview. Explain that you will contact them soon ("Thursday," or "next week") to set up an appointment at a convenient time. Then put the date on your calendar and follow up as promised.

Thank-you Follow-up Letter
The follow-up ("thank-you") letter is an extremely important letter in that it demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and your persistence in pursuing the job. Some families will not even consider candidates for hiring unless they receive a follow-up letter, regardless of how great the interview went. Send the letter within 24 hours after the interview whenever possible.

First Paragraph
Thank the employer for the interview and perhaps point out something that impressed you about their style or ability.

Second Paragraph
Refer to a specific part of the interview that went well, in terms of how your background matches the needs of the family and reemphasize your interest in the position. Do not mention anything negative.

Closing Paragraph
Express your sincere thanks for the interview opportunity and suggest a time when you will follow up on the results.

Acceptance Letters
In writing a letter to accept an offer from an employer, confirm the terms and conditions of your employment- salary, starting date, benefits, etc. Express your pleasure at receiving the offer and your enthusiasm about joining the family.

Rejection Letters
Thank the employer for the opportunity to interview and for the offer that was extended to you. Tell him/her that, after careful consideration, you have decided to accept another opportunity that more closely matched qualifications and skills. (Thank them for the courtesy extended to you during the application and interviewing process).