by Sherri Edwards
A thoughtful carefully constructed resume using information you have obtained through research about a specific company and industry does more than ensure that you get an opportunity to interview. It also prepares you for the interview and will contribute to your ability to effectively make a case for hiring you allowing you to close the deal. Each resume should be tailored to the job you are applying for. Broad or generic resumes may (by luck) get you an interview but they will not prepare you for answering tough or specific questions when you get there.
1. GET THE EMPLOYER'S ATTENTION.
The easiest way to get an employer's attention is to include in your summary the exact skills requested in the employer's job announcement. The use of keywords at the very beginning of a resume will capture the employer's attention. (Consider using our Resume Keywords Worksheet). Conversely using a variety of skills that are unrelated to the position will detract from your value not add to it. Using the employer's specific words will ensure you get attention while paraphrasing with other language can be disadvantageous. Tagging "hard" (technical) skills on at the end of the resume may work for recruiters' electronic searches but when the recipient/screener is actually reading your resume your most important skills may be overlooked.
2. CLEARLY STATE YOUR SKILLS.
Having the right hard skills will determine if the employer will read further. "Soft" skills are important but very difficult to measure/prove. In many cases employers assume you have the related soft skills until they learn otherwise. Typically soft skills can really be determined only with proof (quantifiable results) or when the employer actually meets you.
3. SUPPORT YOUR CLAIMS WITH FACTS.
If you have stated a skill in the summary portion of your resume you need to support it through an example of your related accomplishment in the experience portion of your resume whether you are using a functional or chronological resume format. Describing a specific incident event work experience or project will show evidence or "prove" you have a specific skill. Fancy language may appear engaging but for the discerning decision maker it does not take the place of facts. Facts sell. Using concrete examples in your resume will also prepare you for your interview. Using vague statements may get you in the door but at some point you will have to come up with specifics to make it real. Better to do it now than assume you will be able to produce supporting details on cue during an interview without preparation.
4. PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF QUANTIFIABLE RESULTS.
Avoid generalities or broad statements. Stick with numbers percentages and specific outcomes or descriptions of a process. Stating that you produced "extremely positive results" or that you "greatly improved performance" is vague. You need to include: by what measurement in what time frame and compared to what?
5. TELL THE EMPLOYER WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE ORGANIZATION.
Make sure that you are using work examples that are similar to employers' business needs. Define the scope of your work with the scope of the employer's work in mind. Expecting the employer to interpret is a risky undertaking. Screeners look for candidates that are "the same" as the job announcement. With enough easily identified "qualified" candidates employers will not try to interpret translate or understand experience that is not the same as their request.
6. SPEAK THE EMPLOYER'S LANGUAGE.
Make it easy for the employer to relate to your value by using relevant terminology. Omit any unrecognizable acronyms or industry-specific language that employers will not recognize or identify with.
7. CREATE A GOOD FLOW.
The flow of your information should be logical and compel the reader to continue reading. Bouncing from idea to idea without a natural progression will lose the reader's attention. Grouping similar work examples or related outcomes is easier for the reader to follow.
8. AVOID REDUNDANCY.
When you repeat skills that you have stated in your summary in the body of your resume make sure you have added information by attaching them to a result outcome or specific event rather than simply re-stating them.
9. MAKE YOUR RESUME READER FRIENDLY.
If you are interested in making information stand out using white space is more effective than underlining or using italics. Italics and underlining are hard on the reader's eyes when employers may be reviewing hundreds of resumes daily. Starting with no less than an inch margin around the border of your resume allows the reader to focus on the center. Use white space to make headings and titles stand out.
10. HAVE SOMEONE PROOF YOUR WORK.
Friends and family can proof for typos and grammatical errors. They can also tell you if your resume is pleasing to the eye. However they cannot tell you whether or not it will be effective. Typically only the person screening your resume or a hiring manager in your specific industry will truly know if it is an effective resume.
Final Thoughts on Resumes
For more assistance with your resume see also our Resume Critique Worksheet for Job-Seekers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college career and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
For more than a decade Sherri Edwards has been shaping people's lives and helping organizations resolve their customer-service and human-resource issues through her personal coaching consulting services and training classes. Her extensive background in recruiting staffing sales service and training well qualifies her to help individuals make the most of their job search and to help businesses make the most of their resources and talent. Reach her through her Web site: ResourceMaximizer or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you taken advantage of all the many free resume tools articles samples and more that we have in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers?
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