How to Write A Winning Resume
In a perfect world, you wouldn?t need a resume -- you?d be out sailing the
Mediterranean, exploring the outer galaxy or basking in the Cozumel sun, cold
drink in hand.
But since the world isn?t perfect and almost everyone needs a job, you have
to create a winning resume that stands out from the crowd. Gone are the days
when an acceptable resume featured flush-left, block-style type that began with
your high school education and included your hobbies, health, age and marital
status. Just as the employment market has changed, so have resumes, evolving
from a one-size-fits-all standard.
Whether you?re a candidate for the position of CEO, district sales manager or
staff accountant, your resume must highlight your skills, accomplishments, and
work experience in a way that distinguishes you from the thousands of other
candidates flooding company mail boxes, fax machines and e-mail addresses. A
good resume presents a thumbnail sketch of your past experience. A winning
resume grabs the reader?s attention and increases your chances of being called
in for an interview. Of course, after that, the rest is up to you.
Add Value to Stand Out from the Crowd
Great resumes entice hiring managers, gripping them with the following
a brief summary of your qualifications, strengths, and skills
selected accomplishments and your most relevant industry expertise
work experience chronologically (with titles and dates)
computer and related technical skills
college and post-graduate education
Mention previous military information, but don?t include as detailed a
description as you would for more recent civilian positions.
Be Concise, but Powerful
Employers want to know, plain and simple, where you?ve been and what you can
do for them. But at this early stage of the game, your work experience is just a
piece of paper without any personality or pizzazz. If you don?t blow your own
horn, who will? Of course, every bit of information on your resume must be
truthful, or you can kiss the job good-bye if any discrepancies arise during the
interview or reference-checking stage.
"The facts need to jump off the page; companies and job titles in bold
followed by a brief list of notable accomplishments," says Jim Scott, vice
president of human resources for Staples Inc.
Personnel directors, recruiters, and small business owners are besieged with
resumes whenever they place an ad for a particular position. Don?t bore them to
death or present a laundry list of every job you?ve held since being a camp
counselor-in-training 30 years ago. To make a great impression, your resume
should highlight your past 10 to 12 years of relevant work experience, then
summarize any previous positions.
Your written profile should look attractive, as well. Make it easy to read,
pleasant on the eyes, and not more than two typed pages. No neon green or bound
booklets, please. Put yourself in the place of the beleaguered person sifting
through hundreds of resumes each morning. If he or she can?t read it, it will be
You may be an interesting person, but no one wants to review your life story
unless it?s been featured in Newsweek or on "Hard Copy." So adhere to the
two-page rule. Also, don?t include photographs, letters of reference from family
members and old high school teachers, or cute notations like "loves kayaking" or
"Married with three children and one puppy." Isn?t finding a new job serious
business? Then be serious.
Once you have a winning resume in hand, start a personal marketing campaign.
The traditional method of answering ads in daily and weekly newspapers and
special interest publications is a good start, but consider broadening your
search from there. Contact company recruiters directly be researching those in
the geographic regions you?re targeting, then write a personalized cover letter
to the person in charge of human resources at each firm.
When resumes arrive on Jim Scotts? desk, he says he looks for "progressively
increasing responsibility with ample time to season in each job. Too many
companies can spell trouble."
For more exposure, you can jump onto the electronic bandwagon and have your
resume posted with one of the many Internet-based services.
When searching electronically, companies look for key words on resumes to
locate candidates who match a position?s qualifications. So be sure to state
your most relevant skills and accomplishments using concise language. If a
company?s computer is programmed to search for the word "finance" in a resume
database, for example, and your resume states that you "managed financial
accounts and services," you won?t match up.
Consider a Pro
Given such obstacles, not everyone is capable of writing a great resume. It
can be hard to be objective about yourself. Even harder, still, to use the right
buzzwords to add value and marketability to your work history. If you realize
that you?ve been procrastinating or sweat profusely whenever you sit in front of
a computer screen to compile your career into two life-changing pages, it?s
probably time to seek professional resume writing assistance. Many services are
available to help you write, edit or fine-tune your resume. Simply check the
classified ads of national publications, regional journals, telephone
directories and electronic directories for a service that meets your needs. Look
for those that have been certified by the Professional Association of Resume
Writers or the National Resume Writers Association.
Whether you write your resume yourself or seek help from the pros, make sure
this key document accurately reflects all you have to offer. Your interview
schedule will fill up as a result.
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