Crafting the perfect resume

Unemployment is growing.

The latest numbers show the rate has jumped from 7.2 percent to 8.1 percent.

Many of the people looking for a job today haven't done so for years, even decades. More people looking for a job also means more competition for the jobs that are available. So crafting the perfect resume is critical. Click here for related stories

What is the most common mistake?

Al Waters, the Director of Career Services at Western Illinois University said, "People don't represent themselves."

Sometimes all it takes is a little self-evaluation before looking for a job. That's the word from Waters. He recommends you find your strengths before you put anything on paper.

Waters said, "Go home and look at yourself in the mirror and ask, why would I hire me? If you don't know the answer to that, you won't be able to tell that to an employer when you look for a job."

Then do some research. Check out online sites which list available jobs or log on to sites which list job descriptions for thousands of careers like .

Examine job descriptions and note the skills necessary to pursue the career. Then compare them to what you possess. Waters says you'll be surprised how much experience you real have.

Here are the top four skills employers look for: written communication, oral communication, interpersonal skills and computer literacy. If you possess these, make sure you highlight them on your resume.

Don't wear blinders to some jobs just because the title or field isn't what you're used to. Waters says in most cases, job experience overlaps many fields. And don't sell yourself short.

Waters said, "I would advocate to all people looking for a job to rid themselves of two, four-letter, dirty words. "Just" and "only." Don't say "I'm just" or "I'm only." Be positive and say "I have" and "I am."

Now to the actual resume. You can find many examples on the internet, but the important thing is organization. Write concisely and be specific about the job duties you list.

Waters said, "Forget your job title. Look at what you did. Did you supervise? Did you lead? Did it require teamwork? Was there responsibility? And remember employers normally only spend 30 to 60 seconds on each resume."

What's the biggest resume killer?

Waters said, "In a resume when people use a paragraph format. Don't do it. Learn how to abbreviate and to bullet."

Waters also suggests putting only your name, degree and job titles in bold, plus your e-mail address. That implies you are computer-savvy.

Waters said, "Bold things you want them to remember in their subconscious."

Another thing folks forget to do is proofread. Remember, this is a first impression. Make the most of it.

We also asked some other experts what makes a great resume. Here's what we heard.

What do you think is the biggest mistake people make with their resumes?

Kim Cull, Workforce Specialist with the Hannibal Career Center said, "Just being sloppy. Resume is the presentation of you without you being there, so if it's neat and organized that shows quality of work."

Julie Bonansinga, Owner of Snelling Staffing Services in Quincy said, "I look for achievements and longevity in a person's work history. It shows dedication to their community and to the job and we're looking for people with dedication, loyalty and a good work ethic and proven track record."

Cull added, "I will look at how many employers you have had in the past ten years. How long have you held a job? Are you job-hopping? It's another thing employers look at. If you are job hopping right now you need to stay with the business you're at and work on your work history."

By the way, if you're looking for a job you don't have to leave your home to job search.

WIU is holding an online career fair March 9 to June 30. Log onto to take a look.

Also try our Tri-State Job finder link at You can peruse hundreds of job listings there ready for the taking.