How long should my resume be?
If you are new to the profession, your resume should be able to fit on a single page. If you have years of experience, two pages is completely acceptable. After 12 years of experience, I have two resumes: one that is 2 pages long and a vitae-style resume that lists all of my speaking engagements and publications in 3 pages.
How should I organize my resume?
Imagine that the standard interviewer will take about 2 minutes to scan your resume as you are being called into the room. What do you want them to see most? If you are a new graduate, it's probably helpful to have your education listed at the top of the page. However, if you have real-world experience, you want that at the top. I once interviewed a person who is fluent in Spanish and she had that buried at the bottom of her resume! If you have a very marketable skill, make sure that gets top billing.
What do I do if I've had many different jobs?
If you have worked at several jobs with the same duties (three different elementary school counselor positions), it's OK to list the jobs together and then list bullet points underneath. This will help free up some space and reduce redundancy.
But what if some of my jobs are unrelated to my desired position?
You have two options if you have jobs that are unrelated to your desired position 1) leave off completely or 2) list the job with no related description. If you had a job doing data entry while you were in college, it's not necessary to include that job in your resume. If you are worried that there will be large holes in your resume without listing a particular job (you worked data entry for 5 years before you went back to grad school), just list the job with the dates you worked and offer no further description.
Should I include my references?
If you can include references without cutting other material, I think it's helpful to include. It saves time for the person who is calling your references and that is always a good thing. In addition, if you have any standout references (someone well known or in a prestigious position), listing visibly on your resume may get you interviewed.
What about online applications, do I still include my resume?
Yes! The online application system in my district sometimes prints things strangely. I really like to have a resume to look at as well because it can be easier to read.
What if an online application asks for my supervisor's contact information but they've moved on?
This is a tricky one! If you have to list your former employment and include your supervisors name who is no longer there, it's OK to list the main line for the school and who was your supervisor. If you can, write "former" before their title. Typically, prospective employers don't call all your places of employment but simply the references that you provide.
Should I submit my online application before it's complete so I can get my name in?
No! How many times can I say no? This is important- if you submit a partial application and the employer passes you over, they will not look at you again. They'll think they've already reviewed your information and found it lacking. Don't submit until everything is final!
What about a cover letter?
I always email my resume in addition to completing the online application. I use the body of my email as I would a cover letter and introduce myself. The employer is probably going to get many emails so I try to be brief and quickly introduce myself. I always include some data and what makes me unique. I make sure to include my website in the signature line so they can easily click to see more.
I hope I've answered all your questions! If you have more, feel free to comment or post on my Facebook wall. If you need more support or would like to see an example of my resume, click here.