Write Your Resume the Easy Way

Write Your Resume the Easy Way

And Increase Your Chances of Getting That Dream Job

I can’t think of anyone who enjoys writing their resume (even if they enjoy talking about themselves for hours on end!) For many, writing a resume conjures up visions of tortuous self-searching, intermittent pad scratching, scanning piles of “example” resumes, and continuous rewriting, all the while struggling to stay abreast a paper ocean. The frustrating finale? After all that hard work, chances are slim for getting an interview. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be the one employers call, signficantly increasing your chances of getting that dream job. All you need to know are a few easy secrets. To start, consider these little known facts:

bluarrow-4100344A resume is not just a biographical work history. It is a highly effective marketing tool, and many underestimate its importance. Contrary to popular belief, resumes aren’t like plastic widgets, in that they are all the same. Suppose XYZ company is looking to hire an electrical engineer. A hundred electrical engineers eagerly apply for the position. Submitting a generic resume or one similiar to those of other engineers, is not going to do much to put you on top. Your resume needs to be custom-made and tailored for the job—just like you.

bluarrow-4100344The average amount of time an employer spends reviewing a resume, even when screening resumes for Chief Executive Officer, is only 15-20 seconds. Does this surprise you? Admit it, the personnel manager at Diva Stripes would rather browse Cosmopolitan, not your resume. Faced with a threatening pile of papers, the weeding out process makes short shrift of those who imagine their labored histories will be appreciated. Your resume must make a strong impression in a short amount of time. It needs to be an effective, easily read product brochure, the “product” being your experience, achievements, and abilities. Remember: out of 100 resumes, only 10 percent will get an interview.

bluarrow-4100344The goal of your resume is to get you an interview, not to be a chronology of your work history. To achieve this in today’s competitive job market, it needs to be strong, clear, and focused. It should motivate employers to want to meet you and discuss employment possibilities, not be a file for future reference or meat for the paper shredder.

bluarrow-4100344Finally, your resume is an integral part of your total presentation. Think of it as “you” on paper. Even after the interviewing process, it continues on the job, arguing your case. In the final decision making process, employers review and evaluate all candidates. Your resume will be your last and most powerful advocate.

So how do you go about writing this interview winner?

Step One

First, determine the kind of position you want. This is called your job “objective.” Be realistic, but don’t censor yourself by thinking you don’t qualify for what you really want. When you decide on the kind of position you’re looking for, you can focus your resume to reach that goal. This is called “targeting your resume.” For example, don’t write “a position in finance” or “human relations” or “marketing.“ Be as clear as possible. If not sure, ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” Then, “Where do I want to do it, and at what level of responsibility?” For example, you might decide on a “position as editorial assistant in book publishing” or an “entry-level position in financial analysis with a major financial institution.” Don’t skip this step. Without a clear objective, your resume lacks focus, and your writing will have no direction. Remember that people who take the longest time to find a job are often the ones who insist on telling everything they ever did, or mentioning every skill they’d like to use, hoping the employer will figure out what they want and where to put them. With this tactic, the usual place their resume lands is not the hiring manager’s desk but the paper shredder.

Step Two

Once you know the position you want, identify the skills, personality traits, training, education and experience needed for that objective. These will be your selling points, or areas of emphasis. For example, does the position require excellent communication skills, or instead demand analytical or organizational abilities? Determine exactly what skills or abilities are needed for the job you want, listing several of the skills required. This is what the employer will be looking for. After you know what the employer wants, show how your accomplishments, training, skills and experience fit. Ask, “How did I use those same skills in the past?” List the strongest abilities, training, and accomplishments that make you a good candidate for the position. Next, write a summary of qualifications by highlighting relevant experience, training, and credentials, mentioning a few significant accomplishments, and one or two outstanding skills or abilities. If you don’t write a summary, your best stuff will be buried in your resume, waiting for the employer to find it. The purpose of a summary is to show up front that you are qualified and that you are especially talented in areas that matter to the employer.

Step Three
After you write a summary, you can develop your work history. The important thing to remember is that when listing past experience, don’t write boring, generic job descriptions. Although many will tell you to use “action” verbs, don’t get carried away with “supervised the stock room,” “calculated figures for budget”, and “took meeting minutes for vice-president,” ad infinitum. How does that make you stand out from the crowd? Instead, describe the benefits or results of your activities and how you achieved them. For instance, did you increase efficiency or organization, help save money, solve a pressing problem, or increase company revenues? An example might be, “Saved employer thirty-three percent by conscientious and meticulous quality management.” Be sure to focus on what you enjoyed, and what gave you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Remember, the employer isn’t interested in job descriptions. He or she wants to know how hiring you will benefit the organization.

Step Four

You are nearly finished! All that remains is to list your pertinent education and training, including any related study in your field, and any special skills or proficiencies that make you a desirable candidate. Don’t list skills or proficiences you dislike, or that are unrelated to the job you seek. You don’t want to spend a lot of time typing or adding figures, do you, just because you’re fast?

As you add the final touches, try not to aim for developing one perfect resume, with a one-size-fits-all philosophy. In other words, don’t send the same resume to several different employers, with only your cover letter changed (or only the employer’s name and address.) Be careful to target each resume for each position applied for. With this specific objective in mind, you can cite accomplishments, key words, skills and personality traits that mirror its requirements.

A Final Word

Before you print out your resume or send it to the typesetter, carefully proofread and check your final draft. Be sure you are clear and concise, and be extra careful to find the lowly grammatical error or inadvertent typo. Neglect in this area can send your resume mercilessly into the now bulging paper shredder, no matter what your qualifications. It’s a little like sporting scuffed shoes, missing a button, or wearing a zapped pants zipper to an interview. You may be perfect for the job, but your presentation just lacked that little finesse!