Writing a Resume That Works
So you’ve decided it’s time for you to embark on this adventure we call a job search. Now that you’ve made your decision, use these tips to make sure that you execute your search effectively.
The first step to a successful job search begins with writing a resume that works. It’s that simple. Writing a clear, targeted resume that describes your skills, abilities, expertise, and professional experience in a concise, informative manner is the first key to success.
Picture this scenario: it’s 11:30p.m. on a Tuesday night and you’re ready to swan-dive right into that pool of job postings. You’re online and ready to go. You’ve got a bag of potato chips in hand, and you’re ready to use the nifty templates from one of those million-dollar-baby job boards. Who needs a targeted resume when you’ve got that nifty template to follow, right? You do. So let’s start from square one.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sending an unfocused, untargeted resume gives you the same odds at getting your next job as wearing jeans to the interview—one in a million. Let’s put the odds back in your favor by beefing up your resume to ensure that it includes critical information: your transferable, relevant work experience and knowledge, what you accomplished at your last job, and why the next company should hire you.
The very beginning of your resume should tell the hiring manager your story. We’re not talking about writing a novel here, so take it easy. You just need to paint a picture of who you are. Are you a designer who specializes in print or web–or both? Make it known who you are, what you do, and how you do it. While we’re on that subject, be sure that your contact information is clear and easy to find. Just like you, HR professionals and hiring managers are busy and don’t have time to break out the magnifying
glass and encryption codes just to figure out how to contact you.
Clearly Present Your Skills
Identify your skills by providing a brief summary, or elevator speech, covering your talents, abilities, and accomplishments. You’ve got about 30 seconds in an elevator to get you from the ground floor to the first floor—figure out all the fantastic attributes about yourself that will open the door to a face-to-face interview. A well-crafted summary of your career, objectives, and accomplishments helps to create a targeted, focused resume that will get you noticed.
Next, check out how you’ve documented your employment history. The most recent work that you’ve done–freelance included–should always kick things off.
Indicate the companies that you’ve worked for, your titles (be sure to use clear terminology), and all of the goals and successes you accomplished. Remember to be fair to yourself and only list the activities that you were directly responsible for. You don’t want to oversell your skills and end up in an interview that is over your head. Trust me.
Befriend action words and keywords. Use their energy and momentum to create clear, targeted sentences. Hiring managers want to read about what you did and the ways you made an impact on your organization. Use action words to describe how you generated revenue and reduced expenses, or just made your work environment more pleasant and productive. Don’t leave it up to HR professionals and hiring managers to infer or search for your accomplishments. Identify your strengths with action words and keywords.
Remember to proofread your resume very closely. In addition to using spell-check, have a friend or a proofreader carefully edit and review your resume for spelling errors or poor word choices. After staring at your resume for a while, your document can become a blank page, making it easy to overlook glaring errors.
Customize, Customize, Customize
Internal human resources departments use keyword searches to prescreen candidates who submit resumes for open positions. The success of these keyword searches is vital to that hiring manager calling you to arrange for an interview. You must customize your resume using targeted keywords in order to command attention and get that call for the interview.
Examine the job posting carefully for cues as to what keywords to use. Be sure that your resume is an exact match with the job posting. Call out the software, tools, operating systems, and languages that you’re familiar with on your resume. If you’re having trouble recalling experiences and tools that are a match for the job, consider if you’re actually qualified to be responding to that particular ad.
Taking the time and effort needed to create a focused, direct resume will create a streamlined, efficient job search that will allow you more time to research the companies you’re interested in and smell the roses along the path of your job search. Good luck!