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Ten Quick Keys to a Top Notch Résumé

When was the last time you wrote a new résumé? Was it 1, 5, or 10 years ago? If necessary, are you prepared to apply for that next job? In the past, have you gotten the interviews you sought? Were the job offers worthy of your experience? If not, then why? Could it be that your résumé lacked the qualities, power and content needed to reach your employment goals? Perhaps you are a candidate ready for a résumé overhaul.

In the world of employment, companies have little interest in reading résumés. In fact, most résumés are downloaded into a database where they can be extracted by key words such as Excel, management, presentations, CPA...etc. They are also scrutinized in the areas of multiple job changes, education, and progression of responsibility. Of course these are the critical areas that are used to select candidates, but do not forget that a first impression may be your résumé’s cosmetic impression. How does your résumé stack up over all?

  1. Résumé NO-NO’s. Don’t lie. Don’t include any personal info. Don’t include salary/supervisor’s info. Don’t use "I", instead use, "Duties included..."

  2. Keep it to one page. Your résumé should be clear, concise, creative and one page.

  3. Use bold, italics or underlining to emphasize a power point. Best to have only a few items highlighted to gain the most impact. Choose carefully.

  4. Make a list of any special projects, new responsibilities, and all job duties.

  5. Identify your style. This includes font (size and style), paper stock (type and color), and tone (language choices). If unsure, go conservative.

  6. Choose your format. Most employers prefer a chronological résumé that begins with your current/most recent position and goes backward. A functional résumé is valuable for the employee with multiple jobs changes. This replaces the focus on the skills, achievements and experiences. Rather than set up by dates, there are categories of experience and employers are listed without descriptions.

  7. Objective: Not Required. A power resume often excludes a general objective statement in place of a "Summary of Qualifications" section. This is accomplished by presenting bullets of key skills and qualifications. Use key words that would pertain to each particular position in which you are applying.

  8. Employment History. If possible, combine all positions that you have held within the same company. Focus on the most significant role. You can omit a position that you held for less than three months if necessary. Use varied language in your job descriptions and do not be redundant. Abbreviations in moderation are acceptable.

  9. Education. Everyone has some type of training or education that may be valuable to an employer. Document any education that would be related or helpful to the positions in which you seek.

  10. Technology Experience. Are your computer skills up to par? This is a key area for employers today. Always document your computer knowledge, both hardware and software. Also, include industry-specific programs and Internet skills.

As you approach a résumé overhaul, keep in mind that this will be your professional paper commercial for the employment world. It should be a glowing recommendation of your history with significant highlights that would benefit your next employer. When you have completed the overhaul, ask a friend for constructive criticism. They may give you a different insight as to the message that you are sending out. Remember this one last key: The answer to a great résumé is to revise, revise and revise!

- Sheri A. Callahan, President Horizon Headhunters, LLC
Resumes, Training & Career Development Services