Think of your resume as a marketing tool...
Most people dread writing their resumes. Often times, the task is so daunting, many job-hunters don't put the time and energy to make their resume the sterling piece of marketing copy it should be.
Here are my ten tips on how to make your resume the best job winning resume it can be:
1. Before you start writing your resume, you need to realize how important it is and what a resume does for your and your career. The purpose of a resume is to hopefully peak the interest of potential employers enough to land you a job interview. However, just because you are writing a resume to try to get an interview doesn't mean you should treat it like a job application. Instead, you need to craft your resume like a piece of marketing copy aimed to make a big sale on a prime product-- you! In order to achieve this goal... you need to invest time, summons up creative juices, and revise, revise, revise.
2. Treat your objective statement as the HOOK of a resume. Your objective statement should be aligned left below your Name and contact information. A resume objective section is like an introduction. Think of it as a Newspaper headline. How many headlines get released into the news each day? Millions. What do people do when they pick up a newspaper? Scan headlines until something catches their eye and peaks their interest...to read more of the article. Resumes are the same way. Each job posting is likely to attract hundreds of resumes. So, if you want a chance and your resume earning more than 3 or 4 seconds of an employers attention, make a clear, concise, opening statement full of power words that will let anyone reading your resume know how VALUABLE you will be to their company.
3. Tailor your resume to each job posting you are responding to. For example, they want someone with leadership skills. Maybe you have never been a "manager" or a "boss, but perhaps you've lead a research team, or have supervised a fund raiser. Pay more attention to how you can show that you have the qualities the employer is looking for, and less about stated your previous "duties"
4. Always work achievements and awards in when you can. This will show employers that people who have employed you have recognized you as the shining star that you are.
5. When detailing previous professional experience (NEVER SAY JOB OR WORK HISTORY), use bulleted lists that are concise and to the point. Do not list out every single one of your duties. Be a little vague so hiring managers will have something to ask about during an interview. When you are done writing out your previous employment, re-read it. If the job ad is looking for certain qualities, add them into your job histories. For example, Job A is seeking a motivated project manager. In your resume, you might want to mention you "project managed" the creation of that instructional booklet for your current employer.
6. Make sure the phone number you put on your resume is one that you will have access to during normal business hours. For example, if you put your cell number down, and someone calls for an interview and gets your voicemail, they may or may not take the extra time to leave you a voicemail. Be available. If you are difficult to get a hold of just to set up an interview, imagine how people will feel if they need you to do work for them.
7. Your resume ( and cover letter) should be drafted in such a manner, in all possible instances, that illustrates how you will benefit their company. Beyond coming out and saying how you will add value in your objective statement, the next best place to illustrate what you will do for the company is in your "Summary of Qualifications" section. I usually write the Summary of Qualifications as a bulleted list with proven work experience, skills that match the job advertisement. Then I give a few personal qualities (with some of them pulled from the job ad).
8. Formatting is everything. We are visual beings, we like things that look nice. Don't use a template, they are cheesy, and can be spotted from a mile a way. Make sure your layout is simple and clean. Use bulleted lists. Bold and italic key words, job titles, places of employment, wisely. Make sure there is plenty of white space between each section. Avoid writing anything longer than a few lines long. Make sure all headers are the same font, size, and style.
9. Edit, Edit, Edit. Before you submit your resume in response to an ad... proofread it several times. Even the slightest mistake in formatting, grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and so on, can cost you the job. Also re-read it for content. Is it clear? Are your sentences short and to the point? Did you use punctuation consistently? How is the content? Did you tailor your resume to the job posting? Did you use plenty of power words? Put your resume down for a couple of hours, and review one more time before you send it. You might also want to get an honest friend's opinion about your resume.
10. Use the same care in submitting your resume as you did with writing it. If submitting a hard copy, include a hard copy cover letter explaining how you will be a valuable asset to their company. Print both the resume and coverletter on the highest quality paper as possible. Print your application materials ONLY on white or a neutral shade of paper. Colored paper will likely get your resume thrown into the recycling bin faster than anything else. If e-mailing your resume, make sure your resume and cover letter are named appropriately with your name included in the file name. Make sure both are attached. Write a simple professional note in the body of the email explaining why you are writing in response to the job ad, why you are fit for the job, and that your resume and cover letter is attached. You should treat the body of the e-mail like an abbreviated version of your coverletter.
And finally, if you feel like you lack the skills to write a resume, contact a professional. If you need resume writing or editing assistance, leave me a comment with your e-mail address.