6 Steps to a Winning Resume

Your resume is a first impression.  Plain and simple. Your celebrated personality may win over a hiring manager at an interview, but you will never even get to that stage if that one piece of paper doesn’t make a statement.  Invest time in writing your resume.  Draft it, edit it, and most importantly have others look at it and make suggestions. 

 Know What You Want and Frame Your Resume Accordingly

Before you even start to draft your resume, it is imperative you have some idea of your goal when setting out to look for a new opportunity.  You do not need to list an objective on your resume, but you do need to know what you are looking for.  Is it career advancement to the next level?  A change of industry?  More money?  Whatever the case, decide on some goals.  As for your resume– maybe you are not sure what it is you want to do and have a few things in mind.  If so, you will need tailored versions of your resume.  This extra effort will go a long way.    

 Silver Bullets

Although you pore over perfecting your resume, a hiring manager will most likely spend about 30 seconds skimming it.  If your resume is difficult to read, you’re toast.  Past accomplishments and responsibilities should be written in bullet form using the least amount of words possible.  Some like to put all their accomplishments in bullets and just list the places they worked.  Not a good idea.  People like to be able to follow a clear employment history.  Highlight accomplishments under each position listed.  One more note on format – use simple fonts in a 10, 11 or 12 pt. type.  Don’t get fancy.

 Focus on Accomplishments:  Be Specific and Quantitative

 Generalities can be red flags to a hiring manager.  They may judge a candidate as not having a lot of substance if there are no specifics.  Often the case, one thinks about what they do all day from a task perspective, rather than what they have accomplished and where successes have come.  The key here is to include relevant statistics that highlight the results of your work.  If you are in sales, emphasize quotas and how you matched up against them if successful.  Identify how you ranked among your sales team if you were highly productive.  Perhaps you are in a tech role, finished a project early and saved the company money — point that out.  If you were responsible for marketing efforts that helped drive revenue, write about it.  If you manage others, include the number of employees for which you are responsible.  Just be sure you are prepared to be asked more detail about your statistics in an interview.  Be sure you can back it up. 

 And…Action!

Presumably you are trying to convince a hiring manager that you are a hefty contributor to an organization.  Strong action verbs help to create the take-charge impression you need to make to show your ability to be proactive.  You don’t want to just look like a participant.  Hiring managers like leaders.  For example, rather than writing “Helped with marketing efforts” you should be more specific and exemplify how you were an essential player in the department.  Try, “Executed details of newly developed webinar which resulted in 1000 new sales leads.”   

 Blah, Blah, Blah

Irrelevant information should not be included.  Some may be of the opinion that listing hobbies and activities adds personality.  We all have pastimes that we love to talk about, and sometimes those may even come up in an interview.  However, a resume is not the place to tell a future employer that you love hiking with your dog.  Don’t waste valuable resume space on facts that don’t matter. And please, please, please do not say “References will be furnished upon request.”  Have you ever seen a resume that says, “I refuse to provide references if you need them”?  Of course not. At the appropriate stage, it is a given that references will be requested by a potential employer. 

  Keep It Short

Remember that high school English teacher who was always reminding you that sometimes less is more when writing papers?  Well, that notion is equally important when writing a resume.  There is no reason for your resume to be longer than two pages.  If you feel that is that is impossible, evaluate what work experience will be most relevant to the position for which you are applying, as well as consider just listing the name of your company and your title for older positions.

 Now go get ‘em.  Good luck!

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