After I replied to him, I decided to publish that reply here in the hopes that it will be useful to someone else too...
During my time at the University of Texas, I was involved in hiring a few people. This meant going through résumés to determine who to offer interviews to, and then providing the technical side of the interview. I'm writing from the perspective of those experiences.
Your résumé must be well-organized and easy to read. This helps hiring managers a lot if you consider that they probably have to scan through anywhere between 10 and 30 résumés or more to determine who to offer interviews to. The easier you make it for them to determine quickly what you bring to the table, the better your chances are to get that interview.
It is also important to highlight your potential value to the new company as early on in your résumé as possible. To support that goal, it would be useful to put a section titled "Career Goal" at the top of your résumé, and clearly state in it how you can help the operations of the prospect company. Say something like, "My goal is to use my extensive experience in A, B, and C to do X, Y, and Z for any company I work for." That sets the tone with that hiring manager up front, and the rest of your résumé simply supports your statement that you have experience in A, B, and C, and that you can do X, Y, and Z.
Other tips I can think of:
- Unless the company specifically asks for it, I would drop salary information from the résumé. If they were prepared to pay $60,000 but your résumé shows your last salary at $40,000, they might only offer you $50,000.
- Don't ever put things on your résumé that you have no clue about. If the hiring people catch you, your credibility will be shot.
- Read the job descriptions of jobs you apply for to make sure you are a good fit for the job. You'd be surprised how many people apply for jobs that their résumés simply don't support. That annoys hiring managers endlessly.
- Write a good cover letter that states what job you are applying for, and that states why you would be a good fit for the job. This starts you off on a good foot.
- Remember that your résumé's job is only to get you that interview.
- Once you have the interview, you have to sell yourself by coming across as friendly, easy to work with, and confident in your abilities to do what you say in your résumé you can do. Hiring managers often not only look at what you can do, but also whether you will be a good fit for the company and get along well with existing staff.
- Do I have to say, dress properly for the interview? If you're not sure what appropriate dress would be, call the company and ask the receptionist.
While this post doesn't tell you step by step how to write a résumé, it tells you what your focus and attitude should be. I believe this is the first critical step. Good luck!