Write Lady’s Top Resume Tips
Once upon a time, job hunters landed interviews for good positions if they submitted resumes that stated a one-size-fits-all career objective, followed by a list of applicable work experiences and educational qualifications. Professional documents could not be designed by any eight-year-old with a laptop or iPad, so decision makes gave applicants the benefit of the doubt if their submissions were mass produced.
Taking time to read between the lines, prospective employers searched for clues to determine if Sam Jones or Jane Smith had the baseline qualifications for the job. In the good old days, demand exceeded supply, so placing a warm body in an open spot was often a priority. Training would fill the gaps.
Clearly, the job market landscape has changed.
To grab an employer’s attention today, your resume must function like a well-honed sales presentation. Speaking specifically to the prospective employer (right down to the individual gatekeeper who will grant or deny your first interview), your resume should hit the ground running with a statement that reflects your understanding of that manager’s need. From there, you must deliver a convincing argument regarding why you are the optimum resource—the one who will solve known problems and produce new opportunities.
Nailing down such a presentation might sound like a complicated feat, but it’s not.
Starting with solid credentials, all you need are Write Lady’s Ten Top Resume Tips to build a door-opening resume:
1. Develop a hit list of prospective employers based upon your general knowledge of their opportunities relative to your interests and credentials. Without being overly picky (unless you just won American Idol or invented a way to turn air auto fuel), muster some passion about aspects of the work/industry/company so that you want to apply for a job and, therefore, give it your best shot—a genuine effort.
2. Take time to research each organization, obtaining as much inside information as possible. Yes, visit websites, but also gather news from an array of media and, when possible, directly from insiders.
3. Create a benefits list. Determine why and how the employer would benefit from hiring you, whether or not the organization has posted an opening.
4. Use the intelligence you gathered to lead with a well-defined value proposition. This is not about what you want, but rather what you offer.
5. Bullet your top accomplishments to underscore your value proposition. Your key success points should strongly convince decision makers of your potential.
6. List your professional experiences, beginning with your most recent job. Expounding on your track record of success, use action words like motivated and spearheaded to state the positive results that you produced—not descriptions your responsibilities.
7. List legitimate educational accomplishments that are applicable to the job at hand, as well as enrichment courses that broaden your potential. Include noteworthy honors plus any insights (such as working fulltime while earning a graduate degree) that reflect your commitment and capacity to succeed under pressure.
8. Describe volunteer jobs in which you took leadership roles and/or accomplished outstanding feats. Position your initiatives in terms of how your acquired knowledge enhances your value to your employer.
9. Don’t be afraid of demonstrating admirable efforts and character traits for fear of bragging. If you launched a running club that fundraises for children in need, then by all means say so.
10. If space permits, add mini testimonials (like those shown in corporate brochures) from employers, managers, clients and colleagues. Obtain permission from each reputable source to cite his/her name, position, company and contact link.
Along with your resume, always submit a cover letter that serves as a brief introduction and summary of your qualifications relative to the employer’s needs. In both your resume and cover letter, scrutinize your message to ensure that you delivered examples of your success rather than made blanket statements about it.
What are your resume tips or challenges? What do you say should or should not appear on today’s resumes?
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady Inc.