Many books, websites and software programs exist to help you write your resume, and so I will not add to the abundance. Plus, Atlanta has some very good resume services – and of course, some really bad ones too! Rather, I have a few practical recommendations and guides. (For even more resume tips, go to "New Strategies That Work" link on homepage, or just click here.)
When preparing your resume, keep in mind these three principles:
- Your resume is your “sales brochure,” and you are marketing it to HR Recruiters and Hiring Managers. What do they want to “buy” and how can you best show that?
- Companies are not as interested in what you did, as they are in how well you did it. Thus, be certain to emphasize results and achievements whenever possible.
- In most cases, a two page resume is strongly preferred and in 11 or 12 point font. Don’t feel you have to include everything you have done, just the most relevant and important.
#1: Your resume as “Sales Brochure”
Answer these questions.
- What is your product – that is, what are you “selling”?
- Who is your target market – that is, who will “buy” your product?
Another question: Who is likely to be the first person to see and read your resume, and then start – or not start – the interviewing and employment process?
Answer: In most cases, a Human Resources Recruiter will be, but you also must aim for the Hiring Authority, that person who has the final say in whether or not you are hired. Fortunately, they both look for essentially the same information.
Recruiters enjoy saying that they spend a maximum of 20 seconds reviewing a resume, and if you have not captured their attention in that short time, then your resume – and all your efforts – are history.
In the first few sentences, clearly state your job focus. Do not start your resume with the word “Summary,” since that is just stating the obvious. Instead, use this line to clarify your job focus: “Senior Cost Accountant,” or “IT Professional,” “Executive Administrative Assistant,” or “International Contract Manager.” Avoid flowery, unnecessary adjectives that just take up space such as “dynamic,” or “seasoned” (garlic and oregano?), or other meaningless verbiage.
New: For the latest requirements on your Summary section and how to "Create Your Brand,” go to "New Strategies That Work" link on the ajobs.com homepage, or just click here. This information also stresses how companies now scan resumes for key words and phrases, and how you can add those so that your resume will be selected.
Some tips for your Professional Experience section:
- Use descriptive job titles when necessary – e.g., Database Developer, not Computer Specialist IV.
- Omit or summarize information that is more than 15 years ago, unless it is significant.
- Also omit your education graduation dates, since that only serves to date you.
#2: Results and Accomplishments
I repeat: “Companies are not as interested in what you did as they are in how well you did it.” Other applicants will have similar skills and experience, so why should the company be interested in you? Every resume MUST include and emphasize results, accomplishments, achievements, and awards. If you can quantify, then do so: “Saved the company $110K by ….” However, many jobs are difficult to quantify or to show specific results – nevertheless, you must! For example, “All tasks completed on time and in budget, eliminating the need for costly overtime.” The sample resumes illustrate this principle.
Conclude with your Education (including computer skills), then Professional Affiliations and Civic Involvement. Companies like employees who are active in the community and with professional associations.
Coming soon: Here are a few sample resumes that adhere to these suggestions, and a resume preparation form to help you assemble your information.
#3: Resume length
Recruiters simply will not read a long, wordy resume in small print. Why should they, when other resumes are concise, easy to read, and relevant to the job? The only two exceptions are government resumes, which often run four or five pages, and some IT resumes that contain important software and hardware applications and experience.
Your Final Product
Back to the question, “What are you selling”?
- If your resume is too long or too wordy, then you are selling verbosity.
- If your resume fails to include results and accomplishments, then you are selling an untested and unreliable product.
- If your resume contains misspelling or mistakes, then you are selling sloppiness.
- If your resume starts with “More than 20+ years…,” then you are selling age.
Would you want to buy this product??
Then what are you selling?