Resume Writing – The Stakes Are Too High To Leave It To Chance
Imagine yourself a business owner who provides an incredible service; however the market is saturated with your Competition. What’s more, customers have no clue about the value of what you have to offer; it’s as if you don’t exist. Still, you are undeterred. You know that all you need to succeed is a sizzling brochure with focused introduction and follow up letters, and a way to get them into the hands of important decision makers. Once accomplished, you’re confident you will be able to set up meeting and people will hire you. The all important question is where you should go to prepare your marketing kit. A Madison Avenue advertising/ marketing executive, Oscar Madison, or maybe you can save some money and do it yourself?
For a job hunter this is no hypothetical case, it is a true life story. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are a business with lots of Competition with a capital C. And your resume, cover letters and thank you notes are the door opening marketing tools that facilitate getting calls from all the right people.
A fellow resume writer, Don Mennig of Executive Resumes in Pennsylvania says it best, “Resume writing is marketing; a resume is ‘pure and simple’ a sales document. ” This is so true. The fictional Oscar Madison from the Odd Couple was an acclaimed sports writer, you may be a great creative writer as well; but this does not necessarily qualify either of you to write award winning ad copy. To write a resume that will propel you forward, you must have special writing skills and a thorough understanding of how employers think.
The stakes are too high in your job search to leave it to chance. This is why I suggest that, before you begin, get some professional assistance in writing your resume and conducting your job search. You can pay resume writers and career coaches who have a track record or consult with someone you know that screens resumes and interviews and hires people as part of their job. They all have hands on experience and know what sells and what will turn off people who will screen your resume and interview you. Depending on your industry and level of experience you can ask a co-worker, an accomplished writer or a professor to help you write your resume. As a last resort you can use a professional resume guide and write it yourself.
However if you write it yourself, do not submit it without someone else checking it out first. Take it from me writing an interview generating resume is a complex responsibility and, unless you are a professional, proofreading and critiquing it yourself can bring about some disastrous results.
Now let’s get down to basics: 1: begin by gathering your facts and dates, and use the PAR system to jot down your accomplishments and selling points. 2: Resumes are snapshots, not full-length movies. One page is enough for most resumes, two pages max; even for top executives. 3: Remember you’re writing a sales brochure, not your autobiography. 4: Focus on positions you seek and what makes you special. 5: Describe your accomplishments, not responsibilities. 6: Insert keywords to bypass ATS and OCR scanners 7: Prepare an ASCII resume for job board and online submissions. 8: There is no excuse for spelling and grammatical errors.
According to Robert Mandelberg, CPRW of Creative Edge Resume & Writing, “the sooner you get to the point the better off you are.” What decision makers read in the first 10 seconds determine whether you go in the keeper-file or the circular file. The catch here is, not all readers start at the top. In fact, most busy recruiters and hiring authorities don’t read resumes. They scan the sales document for key words and accomplishments. If what they are looking for is omitted or does not sell, you can kiss that job good-by.
Throughout your resume avoid trite and overused adjectives like hard working, dedicated, bright, responsible etc. These words are meaningless. Seeing is believing! Show people what makes you special, don’t tell them. SELL, SELL, SELL!!!
Resumes follow three basic formats 1: Chronological: This is best for people with stable job histories, and up to 4 jobs in their background. 2: Functional: This is best for older people and people with numerous jobs or glaring gaps. 3: Combination: This is a mix of both styles to fit your specific needs. Your age, industry, job title and accomplishments will dictate the format that is best for you. Details on each style can be found online or in resume books at the library.
There are two main sections in a resume; Experience and Education. There can also be sections titled: Objective, Profile, Skill Sets, Summary of Qualifications, Accomplishments and Licenses. Depending on industry, position and the over abundance or the lack of sellable content, you may want to include one or more of these sub-sections your resume.
Under Experience, for each position write 3-5 lines that describe value and add 2-4 accomplishments in bullet points. Edit it, re-edit and proofread it until every word and sentence is perfect. Here are a few examples.
Wrong: Responsibilities included reorganizing the company’s bookkeeping and collections procedures, AR, AP and payroll.
Right: Personally revamped company financial procedures resulting in a cost savings of $10,000 in the first year plus a 6%-15% increase in collections from delinquent accounts in the fiscal years 2002-2007.
Wrong: Aggressive and hard working salesperson who thrives on new challenges.
Right: Through effective use of newsletters and direct marketing, increased annual sales production from $145,000 to $375,000 annually in the years 2002-2005.
If you are older or had a lot of different jobs, you need not go back to the beginning of your career or include them all. Focus on the past 10-15 years and use a section to expound on your accomplishments and selling points, and then just list employers, titles and dates.
A resume should be written using Times New Roman, Ariel, Century Gothic or Tahoma fonts in 11 point typeface. Use italics and bold when highlighting words or phrases for additional visual emphasis.
You may use a second font with 14 point type to emphasize headings.
Some resumes must get past automatic tracking systems (ATS) and optical character recognition (OCR) scanners. ASCII format and imbedded keywords are helpful here.
If you have would like me to review your resume and my professional recommendations call 646-894-4101. You can also receive an e- copy of “Job Hunting in the 21st Century,” compliments of the Jewish Press by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perry Newman, CPC is President/CEO of Fist Impressions Resumes and has over 30 years experience as a resume writer, career coach and executive recruiter.