OK. By now you should have a pretty good idea of what kind of job you're trying to make your resume help you get, you have a detailed list of what the required and desirable skills are for that job, you know which skills you possess that an employer's going to care about and you've remembered some of your stories, facts & figures so you can substantiate your skills.
Time to start writing.
Start with something easy: your address block. It doesn't really matter what format you use so long as the text is readable, well-organized and complete. This should include:
Your complete name and any professional designations
Address (at least your city, state and country)
Primary e-mail address
You might also include:
Your website address
Your Skype or other contact method
How to find you on LinkedIn, Twitter or other social networks
Your citizenship, green card or visa status
The main point of the information on your address block is to be found. Think through what you're going to include on your resume in those terms. For example: How might someone track me down? Call me? When? Is it OK to include my work phone number? Will they send me an e-mail? What information do they need to put in their Applicant Tracking System so that they can find me in the future? What if I'm moving? What if I live in Dallas now, but am moving to San Francisco in a couple of weeks?
I can't begin to tell you how disheartening it is as a recruiter to read someone's resume and be interested in talking to them further only to discover that the contact information is inaccurate, out-of-date or missing. I have all sorts of tools at my disposal to track people down and then sometimes I still can't find someone who hasn't given me the right information. At some point, recruiters facing this dilemma have to make a decision......keep trying to find the person or give up and move on to the next candidate? Since it often costs money and takes more time to keep trying, the decision is usually to give up. And, there's always the consideration that if the person can't get their contact information right, how many errors would they be likely to make on the job?
Regarding your physical address
Be sure to get your address down accurately. This will differentiate you in Applicant Tracking Systems from other candidates who share your name. Don't think anyone else has the same name as you? Trying Googling your name for a big surprise. It's rare not to discover other people who also have your name. And, by some bizarre twist of fate, sometimes people with the same name share the same general profession. Recruiters often refer to a candidate's address to make sure they're recording their notes on the right person's record. Make sure they don't accidentally get all the good information you give them about yourself on the wrong person's record by not including a correct address for reference.
A few other quirky things about addresses:
If you're applying for a position in one part of the country and live in another, some recruiters suggest that you find an address to use that is local to where you want to be. For one thing, doing that will make you findable as a candidate within that geographic location during a recruiter's search of their Applicant Tracking System, of any job boards to which you've posted your resume or for your LinkedIn profile. There's no problem with using an alternative address, but confusion may be caused by the area codes found on your phone numbers. Be prepared to explain what you've done and why. If you're relocating to the recruiter's turf anyway and don't expect to ask your new company for relocation benefits, be sure they know that. Also, let the reader (or interviewer) know when you expect to be permanently residing in their area and if you're making any future house-hunting or other trips that you might be able to coordinate with someone's interview schedule.
If you're a soon-to-be college grad, you've been living on campus and you haven't yet found your new off-campus residence, consider setting up a convenient post office box as your address if you don't have a friend's or family member's address you can use until you get moved. This might work a bit better than relying on the campus mail room to accurately forward your mail to you. And, when you get re-settled, chances are that the Post Office or other mailbox service will do a decent job of getting your mail sent off to your new location.
If you live in the general location of the job you're after, but not handily close, you might get ruled out for consideration if you live where a recruiter or hiring manager thinks of as representing an uncomfortable commuting distance. "But!" you cry in dismay, "I've commuted 2 hours each-way for years!" Find a way to let the recruiter know you're OK with a long commute and have a successful track record of handling one.
Are you a really "long-distance commuter" and have a second residence set up closer to a work location? Then, instead of using your home address on your resume, use your apartment or other secondary residence in your address block.
Are you a road warrior who doesn't live close to an airport? Find a way to explain how you overcome this so that you don't get ruled out immediately.
Finally, people sometimes make funny assumptions about where you live and what that means about you. Let's say you're applying for a very high-tech job, but live in a location commonly thought of as a low-tech area. Even though your resume screams "high-tech" you still might want to find a way to address any location-based misconceptions.
Regarding your e-mail address
The most common information to be left off of a person's resume these days seems to be their e-mail address. Perhaps the candidate thinks that because they are frequently e-mailing their resume to you, you'll pick up their address from the e-mail correspondence. Not necessarily. At some point the resume is going to become separated from that communication -- it'll get printed or put into an Applicant Tracking System. Unless the normally harried recruiter is taking special care, your e-mail address will be lost at that point.
Not good! Frequently, the first time you'll hear of an invitation to talk to a recruiter or hiring manager is via e-mail. If your address has been lost, you've set up a roadblock for someone to get hold of you.
Further, if you move, your phone number frequently changes, but you keep the same e-mail address. Or, at least you should. Your e-mail address allows people to catch up to you. Maybe a recruiter with a juicy job possibility.
If you don't have a professional-sounding e-mail address, I'd suggest setting up one. SurferDude@aol.com or NastyBaby@hotmail.com somehow just doesn't always make a good first impression with a future employer.
I would not recommend using your employer's e-mail address. Job discussions really ought to be kept on a personal basis. And, you might not want your current employer listening in on any conversations between yourself and a future employer.
On a final note regarding your e-mail address -- If you're actively looking for work, monitor the e-mail account listed on your resume daily. You've got a lot of competition and the first good candidate to start through the interview process might be the person to get the job. Don't let someone else beat you to the punch.
Regarding your phone number
Include the phone number(s) on your resume where you feel comfortable having a recruiter or hiring manager contact you. This may not be your work number. In some cases, this also might not be your home number. If, for example, your home answering machine message is something cute and catchy for your friends, but possibly not so nifty for your future boss to be hearing, you might want to use another number or change the message. If your kids pick up the phone and aren't the best receptionists or message takers, you might want to work around that as well. Similarly, if you live with your parents and they don't speak English, someone trying to get hold of you might not be able to leave a message and might also get worried that your communications skills are challenging. And, if your roomie regularly deletes your messages in order to get to theirs and forgets to tell you about it, you may never hear about that job you've been hoping to get. Just like your e-mail address, you want to use something that will leave a good professional impression. Consider using a second line if you can or a cell phone.
Whatever number you use, be sure to monitor your voice mail messages on a daily basis and return calls promptly. Don't have voice mail or an answering machine? Get one. Employers aren't going to try to reach you at all hours of the day just to track you down.
And, if you move and have to change numbers be sure to put a message on your old line directing callers to your new phone number. If you can, hang on to your old cell phone until you get settled into your new home.
A Special Note Regarding LinkedIn Contacts
You'd be amazed how many candidates I hear from months -- sometimes years -- after I've reached out to them on LinkedIn. Some of these people have been posting respondents who didn't bother to keep up with their inmails and who didn't provide any additional contact information.
Please, please, please remember to check your LinkedIn inmail on a daily basis. Your perfect job might be waiting for you there.
Regarding your name
If you grew up in a culture with different naming conventions (last name first, for example), put your name in the format that will be most familiar to the recruiters with whom you are communicating. In America that's given name followed by family name. Not only will the recruiter be more sure of what to call you, but your information will be filed in their Applicant Tracking System and other files correctly.
Be sure to maintain consistency whenever you put your name on your resume, attachments and cover letters. Without maintaining consistency, a recruiter can't find all the data they've gathered on you. Don't be Max Smith on one document and Arthur Maxwell Smith on another. If you use a hyphenated name, use it all the time. Let's say your official family name is Smith-Jones. Without consistency, your records could easily be spread across at least 3 locations -- one for Jones, one for Smith and one for Smith-Jones. Of course, if in addition you vary your given name on your resume, all bets are off as to whether or not your records can be found at all.
Regarding Professional Designations
If you have an advanced degree or professional certification, include the acronym for that following your name. I know of at least one hiring manager who looks for that information at the top of the resume. If it's not at the top, but follows further down in the resume, he wonders if the candidate is aware of how to "sell" professional credentials -- something that's important in his industry. So, if you're entitled to put CPA, ESQ, PE, MBA, DBA, MCTS, SPHR on your resume or anything else that will help you get the job you seek, do it.
Regarding Your Internet-Based Information
I'd only include URLs to your Internet-based information if that information will represent you well for the position you seek. For example, you may have work examples and letters of recommendation on your website or additional recommendations on LinkedIn. You may have information on your FaceBook, Twitter or other social networking account that demonstrates how excited you are to be part of the same industry as the employers with whom you are applying and also shows that you actually have a lot of industry expertise. If on any of these public Internet-based venues, however, you have a lot of personal stuff you'd rather not get into with an employer, don't offer up the URL. Of course, the employer may find a way to get there without your help, so you may consider cleaning up anything undesirable.
Regarding Your Citizenship, Green Card or Visa Status
This is a touchy subject for most recruiters and most recruiters are loathe to ask what your citizenship status might be during a job interview or prescreen. Whoever they are recruiting for may, however, have a strong preference for hiring US citizens or individuals with permanent residency (i.e., "green card holders"). Since the Department of Labor requires that US employers give US citizens hiring preference, employers are within their rights to have such preferences. If you are concerned that you may be ruled out of initial consideration because of questions about your citizenship, green card or visa status, you might consider putting your status on your resume if it's to your advantage to do so. You might consider this tactic especially if you:
Have the majority of your work experience outside of the US
Have foreign-only degrees
Currently live outside of the US
Or, may be otherwise "assumed" to be a non-US citizen
One More Thing!!! (who knew your address block could be so complex?)
Be sure to put a header or footer on your resume document with your name and contact information in it. Set it up so that your header or footer starts on page 2 of your resume. You might also want to include a page number and quite possibly the total number of pages in your resume. For example: "page 2 of 4". Should resume reviewers be relying on your printed resume, it's important that they can shuffle it back together if your resume should get intermingled with the other printed resumes going through their review. And, if they should somehow lose the first page of your resume, but find they want to contact the person with the great experience listed on page 3 of your resume and they've only managed to hang on to page 3 for some crazy reason, they still know how to track you down. All kinds of misfortune can happen to your resume once it leaves your capable hands. Labeling each and every page will make sure credit will go to the person to whom credit is due and if it's your good credit you'll get the call you want.
Put your address block on the top of your resume.
Did you get everything?
Call yourself and see if your voice mail message sounds OK. Sometimes the message tape (or other storage medium) just gets worn out and you'll need to re-record it.
If you've set up a new e-mail address, send yourself a test message to make sure it's working OK. Consider what you should put on your signature block at the bottom. Spruce it up a bit. You might repeat your contact info, include more about your social network links, or put a one-liner about who you are.