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10 Steps to an On-Target Resume
You have your resume on screen and you’re looking at it, but one nagging question keeps popping into your head, “What are the things I should and should not be doing?” Let’s explore 10 steps to an on-target resume.
- There is no such thing as a “general resume.” To target your resume, you need to practice. Write a separate chronological or combo-style resume for each job title you seek (private sector recruiters heavily prefer these formats). If you don’t know what you want to do next, write a functional resume that describes your skills, then seek the help of a good career coach – or work with your network – to develop a list of possible job titles that fit your passions. Using all the techniques I’m about to mention, write a powerful resume that presents your value to employers for each of those targeted job titles.
- One page? Not always. You’ve probably heard that resumes shouldn’t be longer than one page. If you are fresh out of college with less than three years of job experience, this is generally true. Otherwise, beware! Many top execs still write resumes like those that just got out of college. To stay in one page, mid-level and upper-level careerists often undersell themselves by leaving out the challenges, progressively complex career responsibilities, and solutions they have created that are so tantalizing to their next employer. Write all you need to write to display yourself as a problem solver, innovator, achiever and organizer.
Alternatively, a resume is NOT a life story. A resume IS a one-to two-page description of how you fit a specific job title. Read job descriptions to collectively understand what your target job requires and only include relevant information. The more you know about the type of job you want--and the requirements inherent in that job--the better your resume will be. If you have two solid pages of relevant facts and achievements related to the job title, highlight them. Remember to ask yourself, “Will this statement help me get the interview?” Obviously, you want to only include things that lead to a “yes” answer.
- Objective Statements should be clear, not cute. When you write an objective statement, make it stand out. Be creative and clever, but don’t be “cartoony” cute. Your objective statement shouldn’t say, “A challenging position that will enable me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement.” This statement is overused, excessively general, and takes up space. Be clear and concise about what you do or your area of specialty.
- Stress actions and results over job skills. Don’t turn your resume into an encyclopedia of your work experience. In other words, don’t let it be a boring book of job descriptions and skills you performed. While using a job description is a good jumping off point, go deeper. What you should do is add accomplishments, special recognitions, or promotions you received while in that job, and some problems or challenges you and/or the organization faced and how you overcame them. Go through your current resume and at the end of each bullet point ask, “with what result?” If you can answer that question with a quantitative answer, include it in your resume.
- Be concise. Don’t use 10 words if you can say it in 5. In other words, don’t put in extra words if you don’t need them. If you can say, “The cat, that has black fur with a touch of white, is meowing on the fence,” you can probably say, “The black and white cat, is meowing on the fence.” While this may shorten your sentence a few words, imagine an entire page of the first example and how much valuable space it is taking up. Keep your message short and simple.
- Be consistent. Choose a pattern of spacing, an order of information presentation, or a format of highlighting, and be consistent throughout the entire resume.
- Delete pronouns. Remember your resume is a form of business communication, so you should get rid of any statement containing “I” or “me.” Instead of saying, “I created a strategic marketing plan for corporation X,” you should write, “Developed a strategic marketing plan for corporation X.”
- Be available. Always keep your contact information current. Does that sound silly? It isn’t. In a rush to get their resume out, many people send it out without checking their personal information. Stay professional. Don’t use your employer’s email address on your resume, as it is a misuse of corporate resources. In addition, if your resume is email@example.com, think about getting a new email address for your resume.
- Typos-Eliminate them! One slip up can cost you an interview. Proofread your resume and then have others proofread it as well. Ensure your resume is free of all spelling and punctuation errors, especially if you are seeking an upper-level position or even an administrative one.
- Don’t take it personally. When your resume is proofed, don’t be upset when it comes back with red marks. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best of the best. After all, it’s better to get it red marked by friends than a prospective employer.
Most importantly, relax. Sell yourself. You can do it! Tell your best truths about your work life. Now is not the time to be humble. Remember this is a reflection of you. So, don’t be afraid to highlight yourself and talk about YOU and the highlights you have from your working world. Your next employer is waiting.
Written by Alice Hanson, a contributing writer for Resume to Referral www.resumebycprw.com
Alice is a resume writer and a retained search recruiter for the real estate and development industry. She routinely recruits architects, civil engineers, financiers, credit analysts and property managers. She can be reached at alice344@yahoo .com.