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!

Photo by:  Flickr

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