How to Write a Better Resume

by Krantcents · 22 comments

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A resume is a one to two page formal document that lists a job applicant’s work experience, education and skills. . It is usually the first document an employer sees to determine if you are the right candidate for the job opening. You literally have only seconds to get the employer’s attention with a document that is supposed to show you are most qualified for the job opening. 

Bad resume, don’t bother!

As a former executive and entrepreneur, I have seen a lot of good and bad resumes! Little things like a poor format, spelling errors, typographical errors, unqualified, not highlighting accomplishments, or mistakes is enough to end up in the trash! In this bad economy, there are too many qualified candidates for every job opening. Employers are using computer programs to just get through all the candidates. There is still some human contact, but you have to stand out!

How to stand out?

How do you stand out when there can be thousands (1,000’s) of resumes? A resume is supposed to market you for a job opening! Similar to an interview, you only get one time to make a good first impression. Simple things like selection of paper, format, type font, makes a big difference in a resume. When you prepare for an interview, you are concerned about your clothes, grooming and questions they ask you. You should take the time to create the best first impression for your resume.

Five (5) essential resume steps

  • Presentation – What format is best for your resume? There are four (4) types of resumes that are acceptable in the business world. They are chronological, functional, combination and targeted resumes. A chronological resume lists your work history in chronological order starting with your present or last position first. This works well for individuals with a strong work history. A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience rather than what companies you worked for. This resume works best for individuals who are changing careers.  A combination resume lists your skills and experience first and employment history next. This resume highlights your skills and experience for the particular job opening and the work history employers prefer. A targeted resume highlights your skills and experience relevant to the job you are applying for. This is my favorite because you match your skills and experience specifically for the job opening.
  • Content – What you include in a resume should always match what the employer’s job description! Whether you are networking or responding to a job posting, try to match as many of the job requirements as you can. Your career is important to you because it is going to fill a large part of your life. You should take the time to plan your career and in turn you plan your resume. When I say plan your resume, I am referring to acquiring the skills and experience for the next job or promotion. Your skills should be in an accomplishment or achievement format, quantifying your contribution. This is your opportunity to persuade the employer that you are the right person for the job.
  • Quantify your achievements – Your achievements or accomplishments should be meaningful. One way is to quantify your accomplishments. An accomplishment statement should always include the problem or challenge, action taken and result achieved. Perhaps you hired and trained sales people. What results did the sales people achieved because of your training and management. As a result of your recruiting and training, sales increased twenty-five (25) percent.
  • Research – Just submitting a generic resume does not work for professional employment! Take the time to learn about the company and job description. Whether it is a computer program or a human screening resumes, you need to match what they are looking for or you are out of luck. You do not get a second chance to make a good first impression! Instead, you usually only get less than a minute to make a positive impression. Give them what they want or are looking for and you will get an interview. Isn’t that the objective? 
  • Edit, proofread, correct and do it again – One misspelling, typographical, grammatical or error is enough to toss out your resume. It may be your dream job or your first job, but why miss out on an opportunity for a mistake. It reminds me of someone who comes to an interview late, unprepared, badly groomed or dressed inappropriately. It makes me wonder if the candidate even looked in the mirror before they arrived. Making mistakes on your resume gives the wrong image!

Final thoughts

All resume formats are not the same and you need to find one that will showcase your skill sand experience. I tried to provide a variety of  resume formats (chronological, functional, combination and targeted), however all were accomplishment or achievement resumes. Your goal is to demonstrate to the perspective employer what contributions you made at your employers that will benefit your next employer.  The more you can make your contributions tangible the better you are as a candidate. Your objective is to get an interview so you can demonstrate your skills in an even more tangible way.   Your resume is the first step!

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{ 22 comments }

Holly@ClubThrifty April 8, 2014 at 7:08 am

I used to man the front desk at my old job, and I saw the worst resumes you’ve ever seen. Don’t ever use white-out on your resume and make sure it doesn’t smell funky! My boss would throw them right in the trash.

Krantcents April 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

It is amazing what people will submit. Mistakes, spelling errors and sloppiness would go straight in the trash.

The Wallet Doctor April 8, 2014 at 10:57 am

That last step of editing/proof reading is sooo important. You can quickly get your resume thrown out if there are careless mistakes. Thanks so much for sharing these valuable tips!

Krantcents April 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

You’re welcome. This article is the result of many years interviewing!

Anneli @thefrugalweds April 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm

For my day job as a head-hunter, I consult with clients and candidates for Sr. Level/Executive-level positions in Marketing and Sales. Resumes are critical and I can’t say enough how important it is to make the right first impression. If your resume doesn’t catch the attention of that hiring decision-maker within the first 10-20 seconds, it’s going in the trash. Still, I would say about 75% of people don’t have the knowledge to correctly format a viable business resume.

Krantcents April 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I would think a Sr level executive would understand that, but typically they are not looking for a job that often.

Tie the Money Knot April 8, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Good points, especially the comments on quantifying achievements. Good reminder to me, actually. One note – paper choice doesn’t really matter anymore as most resumes are posted, sent via email, etc.

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 6:59 am

The physical document still matters, but you don’t have to spend extra money. Good crip looking paper gets attention. As a former executive, it depends on the level of the position.

Bryce @ Save and Conquer April 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Good tips. It is great to see what executives look for when reading a resume. I target my resumes, and then use chronological listing. I have not needed to look for a job in decades, but the company I work for is a consulting company, so we often write proposals, and part of each proposal is a targeted short resume.

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 7:00 am

I think targeted resumes is the best way to get a positive reaction. It is probably the best way to distinguish yourself.

Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter April 9, 2014 at 6:29 am

Quantifying has been the thing that has helped me the most on my resume. It really helps a resume stand out from the crowd. I also agree with researching the company; matching what you do with the values of the organization is powerful.

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 7:02 am

Employers are looking for “can do” people! Quantifying your accomplishments is the best way to distinguish yourself.

Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia April 9, 2014 at 8:20 am

A few years ago, I had a close friend request a meet up so that I could review his resume. He handed it over and he had a glaring grammatical error on the very first line! I still give him a hard time about it…he was pretty embarrassed, but he was glad I caught it!

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Everyone needs an editor! A resume is no different.

Scott @ Youthful Investor April 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I like how you wrote to quantify achievements. Gone are the days of getting by listing ‘management skills.’ Even writing about a specific job that enabled ‘management skills’ most employers won’t care without concrete proof or examples. Throw in a number or specific change, in an instance of experience, that was due to or enabled ‘management skills’ and one is well on their way.

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

An accomplishment resumeis a proactive way of marketing yourself. It is a great way to target and highlight your skills too.

Marie @ Great Passive Income Ideas April 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Proof reading your resume is one of the best things to do before submitting it. Way back before, when I applied for a job, I met one lady we had a short conversation and then I noticed that her resume had many erasures! It really freaked me out, the worst thing is she didn’t even use a white out but instead she just scratched it!

Krantcents April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

F Word processing has spell and grammar check which should catch a lot of errors. You still need to proof read it,but it is easier to get it right!

Kylie Ofiu April 9, 2014 at 11:48 pm

I haven’t had to do a resume in years, but I always like to a targeted resume. I’ve been surprised at what some people will submit when applying for jobs, but then not everyone is taught about resumes I guess.

Krantcents April 10, 2014 at 7:04 am

It should be common sense, but it isn’t! The more boxes you can check off regarding the skills required, the more likely you will get the interview.

Simon @ strengthenyourshot April 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Excellent guidelines. I focus on my continues, and then use date record. I have not required to look for a job in years, but the organization I perform for is a talking to organization, so we often create suggestions, and aspect of each offer is a focused brief continue. Thanks for sharing.

Krantcents April 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Sometimes a resume can act as a way to market yourself internally too. It can be used to push for raise or promotion. It is sort of a summary of your accomplishments.

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