Well, it is February after all. Perhaps “love” is too strong a word but if you are applying for a job you should feel confident that your resume is well crafted and is an accurate portrayal of your skills, abilities and experience.
In the '90s, I ran a job seekers group. Each week nearly 100 people gathered to talk about their search for new employment. One week, before facilitating a discussion on effective resume writing, I polled the audience. The question I asked was, “Who is happy with their resume?” Out of this sizable crowd, one brave woman raised her hand. When I asked her why, she responded that it was not that she was so happy with what she had created, it was more that she was tired of trying to revise it based on all the conflicting information she was receiving. The debate about one page or two pages still rages today.
Let me see if I can give you some useful advice that will make your resume stand out from the crowd. If you have read my column before or visited my website, you may know that one of the reasons I can confidently provide this advice is that I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with resumes that have been published in a book aptly titled “Expert Resumes for Baby Boomers.”
What is the purpose of a resume? An effective resume grabs the interest of the person reading it and entices the reader to find out more about you. It demonstrates that your skills, abilities, qualifications, experience and knowledge are a close match to the available position’s requirements. The main purpose, however, is to help you land an interview. A resume cannot get you the job — only you can do that — but it can open the door to that face-to-face meeting.
Like all first impressions, hiring managers and recruiters will make an initial assessment of you based on your resume. Here are some key things to keep in mind. Consider them the ABCs of resume writing.
- A is for accomplishments. In order to demonstrate to prospective employers that you are the solution to their current problem or situation, your resume should not be just a laundry list of past responsibilities. Establish your expertise by including results. That means in the professional experience section include accomplishment bullets that state the challenge that you encountered and the actions that you took to provide a solution. “Showing” and not telling is a powerful way to elevate yourself above the competition.
- B is for background. Before you can begin writing your resume you must identify your specific career goal. This task is critical because it is the underlying foundation for what you include in your resume, how you include it and where you include it. According to Wendy Enelow, the author of more than 30 books on job search and resume writing, by following this strategy, you’re painting a picture of how you want to be perceived. “If you omit this step your resume will have no focus and no direction. As a result, the resume becomes a historical overview of your career and not the sales document it should be in order to facilitate your successful job search.” Highlight those aspects of your background that are a good match to the requirements of the desired position.
- C is for many things, including clarity and consistency (the others include content, competence and character). Your resume should be written in clear, understandable language. Whether your resume gets read by a hiring manager, human resources professional or an industry recruiter, don’t use buzzwords, jargon or trite phrases to make that first impression. “The best way to come off as intelligent and knowledgeable of your industry is to use plain language,” states Jada Graves, the careers product manager at U.S. News. Also, employ consistent language and tenses throughout the document. And finally, don’t include unnecessary information that will detract from the reader’s appreciation of your suitability for the job.
Remember, if you find writing your own resume is still too daunting a task, remember that you can always hire a resume writer to help you craft an expert resume.