Wednesday, August 03, 2011 - Page 2 of 3
How to write a successful resume
Write a hard-selling summary or profile
Grab the reader’s attention and stand out from the crowd by summarizing your best information first. Write a summary of your career highlights to show what you offer your future employer. Use a summary that sells how your background and experience will benefit potential employers. Don’t use the summary to state what you want as a career or the type of job you are seeking or your desires or expectations.
Poor goal-defined summary:
Seeks challenging position within a growth-oriented company in order to develop my management skills.
Excellent hard-selling summary:
Hard-working and enthusiastic certified accountant with 12 years' managerial experience with Fortune 500 companies. Specialist knowledge of company taxation law and Federal Government business regulations. Offers quality business solutions to save money through improve financial controls for small to medium-sized companies.
Make the key messages specific
Readers remember specifics and forget generalizations.
- Relevant management experience
- Leadership qualities
- Proven sales record
- Working for three years as Sales Director controlling a $5 million advertising budget.
- Supervising 30 sales staff bringing in $18 million of sales in the last financial year.
Generalizations disappear from the reader's memory within ten seconds. Instead make each message specific so the employer remembers you as the candidate that supervised 30 sales staff bringing in $18 million of sales.
You may have also highlighted similar information in your cover letter. You should expand on these key messages in the rest of your resume. In this way, your key messages will register with the reader.
Highlight your most relevant experience
Your resume is a selling document highlighting your best features. Decide what’s most impressive in your work experience and use it to sell your skills and achievements. For example, there’s little point in listing or expanding on your role as a trainee accountant for 18 months 15 years ago if you are applying for the post of Chief Accounting Officer for a major corporation. Limit yourself to the work of the past ten years or the past four or five positions you have held.
If you feel you must list all your positions, list them in descending order with the most recent first. Expand on the most recent achievements in your most recent positions. Then place the date and job title for less important or earlier career positions, without any more details. Better still, write a short summary sentence covering your earlier career such as: Accountant with 25 years’ experience working with Boeing Corporation. This will force the reader to concentrate on your more recent and most relevant work experience.
Write your resume sections in order of relevance
Which is more relevant to the employer—the university degree you gained in 1976 or your most recent job as Chief Chemical Engineer at DuPont? Abandon your chronological order and go for descending order of relevance to your employer. This usually means placing employment experience before educational qualification if you have been in the workforce for more than a couple of years.
Write about your results
These are your key selling points. You will get interviews if you list what you added, achieved, contributed, improved, discovered, expanded, launched, improved, sold, solved and won for your previous employers. Put your results under each position you have held to show prospective employers what you can do for them. Here is an example of how to write about your experience in your resume:
- Routine clerical filing
- Customer correspondence
- Invoice preparation
- Accounts payroll
- Managed filing for 40 charity fundraising staff, mail campaigns, minutes of meetings, management reports and board papers.
- Worked with the customer service team to review and rewrite customer correspondence in plain language.
- Kept office accounts up-to-date and helped reduce invoice preparation time by two days.
- Ran the payroll for 40 fundraising staff and 10 support staff in the area office.
Write a clear and easy-to-read resume
Avoid any confusing or cluttered resume formats. Expect your prospective employer to spend 30 seconds reviewing your resume. In that time the employer needs to know the essential information and decide whether to interview you. Test your resume. Can you pick out the essential information in 30 seconds? If not, redesign and rework it until you can.
Write a confident resume
Most resumes fail because people generalize, water-down and understate their achievements. You need to put positive information in the best possible light, without going over the top or taking liberties with the truth. Most employers want confident, enthusiastic, hard-working employees with skills and achievements, a willingness to learn and adapt. Don't make your resume a dry document listing job titles and duties or you'll stay in the pack of 100 other candidates. Let your confidence and enthusiasm flow through—don't sell yourself short.
Exclude nonessential information
There's no need to give the names of your supervisor, the street address and telephone numbers of your past employers or attach your references. This wastes valuable space in your resume and detracts from your key information. Your prospective employer will only need this information if you get past the interview stage and you're on the shortlist for the appointment. Here's a checklist of information to leave out of your resume.
- irrelevant associations and memberships
- irrelevant awards
- irrelevant publications
- irrelevant hobbies and pastimes
- marital status and children
- previous salary
- reason for leaving previous jobs
- second mailing address
- social security number
- supervisor's or manager's names
- travel history
Write an honest resume
There's no reason to lie. Everyone has marketable skills. Highlight what you have to offer, without lying or stretching the truth.
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