15 Tips for Writing Winning Resumes
by Ann Hackett
The thought of writing a resume intimidates
almost anyone. Itís difficult to know where to start or what to include.
It can seem like an insurmountable task. Here are 15 tips to help you not
only tackle the task, but also write a winning resume.
1. Determine your job search objective prior to writing the resume.
Once you have determined your objective,
you can structure the content of your resume around that objective. Think
of your objective as the bullís-eye to focus your resume on hitting. If
you write your resume without having a clear objective in mind, it will
likely come across as unfocused to those that read it. Take the time before
you start your resume to form a clear objective.
2. Think of your resume as a marketing tool.
Think of yourself as a product, potential
employers as your customers, and your resume as a brochure about you. Market
yourself through your resume. What are your features and benefits? What
makes you unique? Make sure to convey this information in your resume.
3. Use your resume to obtain an interview, not a job.
You donít need to go into detail about
every accomplishment. Strive to be clear and concise. The purpose of your
resume is to generate enough interest in you to have an employer contact
you for an interview. Use the interview to provide a more detailed explanation
of your accomplishments and to land a job offer.
4. Use bulleted sentences.
In the body of your resume, use bullets
with short sentences rather than lengthy paragraphs. Resumes are read quickly.
This bulleted sentence format makes it easier for someone to quickly scan
your resume and still absorb it.
5. Use action words.
Action words cause your resume to pop.
To add life to your resume, use bulleted sentences that begin with action
words like prepared, developed, monitored, and presented.
6. Use #ís, $ís and %ís.
Numbers, dollars, and percentages stand
out in the body of a resume. Use them. Here are two examples:
· Managed a
department of 10 with a budget of $1,000,000.
sales by 25% in a 15-state territory.
7. Lead with your strengths.
Since resumes are typically reviewed in
30 seconds, take the time to determine which bullets most strongly support
your job search objective. Put those strong points first where they are
more apt to be read.
8. Play Match Game.
Review want ads for positions that interest
you. Use the key words listed in these ads to match them to bullets in
your resume. If you have missed any key words, add them to your resume.
9. Use buzzwords.
If there are terms that show your competence
in a particular field, use them in your resume. For marketing people, use
"competitive analysis." For accounting types, use "reconciled accounts."
10. Accent the positive.
Leave off negatives and irrelevant points.
If you feel your date of graduation will subject you to age discrimination,
leave the date off your resume. If you do some duties in your current job
that donít support your job search objective, leave them off your resume.
Focus on the duties that do support your objective. Leave off irrelevant
personal information like your height and weight.
11. Show what you know.
Rather than going into depth in one area,
use your resume to highlight your breadth of knowledge. Use an interview
to provide more detail.
12. Show who you know.
If you have reported to someone important
such as a vice president or department manager, say so in your resume.
Having reported to someone important causes the reader to infer that you
13. Construct your resume to read easily.
Leave white space. Use a font size no
smaller than 10 point. Limit the length of your resume to 1-2 pages. Remember,
resumes are reviewed quickly. Help the reader to scan your resume efficiently
14. Have someone else review your resume.
Since you are so close to your situation,
it can be difficult for you to hit all your high points and clearly convey
all your accomplishments. Have someone review your job search objective,
your resume, and listings of positions that interest you. Encourage them
to ask questions. Their questions can help you to discover items you inadvertently
left off your resume. Revise your resume to include these items. Their
questions can also point to items on your resume that are confusing to
the reader. Clarify your resume based on this input.
15. Submit your resume to potential employers.
Have the courage to submit your resume.
Think of it as a game where your odds of winning increase with every resume
you submit. You really do increase your odds with every resume you submit.
Use a three-tiered approach. Apply for some jobs that appear to be beneath
you. Perhaps they will turn out to be more than they appeared to be once
you interview for them. Or perhaps once you have your foot in the door
you can learn of other opportunities. Apply for jobs that seem to be just
at your level. You will get interviews for some of those jobs. See how
each job stacks up. Try for some jobs that seem like a stretch. Thatís
how you grow -- by taking risks. Donít rule yourself out. Trust the process.
Good luck in your job search!
Ann Hackett is the president of Quest (http://www.QuestCareer.com),
a career transition assistance company that provides resume writing services,
job interview preparation, and ongoing career transition support. She can
be reached at ahackett@QuestCareer.com