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Resumes: 5 Essential Steps That Work

Step 1

What is the purpose of a resume anyways?

The answer is two-fold. For the employer it is a non-verbal way for you to communicate how you will fill a need or void for them and your objective is to be hired. With those two goals in mind let’s look at the common way people write their resume. More often people write their resume in a job descriptive format, explaining what their duties were at their current/past employer(s).

Which is the following statement: a duty or accomplishment?

Printed monthly sales reports

The previous statement is written as a job duty. If you were the employer how would that not help you see the need to hire this person? Basically you would look at their job description and odds are you already employ someone that can perform those duties. Writing a resume in a job descriptive format merely shows how you maintained your position and performed what was required of you. Most companies want to grow their business thus they are looking for someone that can help them grow rather than stay the same.

Therefore, what can you do differently to show how you will benefit the employer by hiring you? Well that question is multi-faceted but right now I am only talking about your non-verbal communication-I.E. your resume. Instead you should write your resume in an accomplished based format, explaining how you improved upon your position.

As an alternative you could affirm that you:

Proactively printed bi-monthly reports to increase sales and efficiency

This statement exemplifies how you added to your company’s bottom line and productivity of the sales people. Verses printing the minimum of one report a month. Obviously you need to find truthful examples that transpired in your real life experiences. You cannot just randomly write information that sounds good.

Step 2-Essential Questions

Whether a company asks the following questions directly or indirectly, employers are usually expecting for you to provide answers to the following questions. These inquiries will help you provide more useful accomplishments for the employer on your resume and interview. Think of a time when you...

  1. Showed your ability to learn something new?
    Example: Voluntarily went on company Web site to participate in an on-line training

  2. Showed you ability to adapt to a new situation?
    Example: Where your employer merged or was bought by another company

  3. Showed your drive to succeed?
    Example: You persevered when others did not

  4. Took it upon yourself to show initiative?
    Example: You made a choice that others did not have the courage to make

  5. Showed that you have integrity?
    Example: You made the right choice when others were not

  6. Showed where you were a team player?
    Example: Explain the dynamics and roles each person played

  7. Demonstrated your strong communication skills?
    Example: Explain a time when other people were having a difficult time with a person or situation and how you were able to resolve the issue

  8. Demonstrated that you diversified yourself?
    Example: You were proactive and went to another department to clear up an issue or improve the relationship between different departments

  9. Showed you used sound judgment when making a decision?
    Example: How you avoided a possible detrimental mishap that would affect your company

  10. Can give concrete examples of your proven success track record?
    Example: You have a letter or company report

Keep in mind that the above examples, following the questions, are only illustrations to help with your comprehension. If you come up with a better representation to support one of the above questions, then more power to you! Now decipher among all of your achievements and choose the most appropriate ones that best represent your situation. After you come up with examples that answer the above questions then input them in a bullet pointed format on your resume. Obviously place the appropriate answers under the employer where the experience occurred.

Step 3-Consider This...

There are a few other important aspects when building a resume that helps rather than hurts you, but that is it in a nut shell. One other valuable hint is to always keep your resume to one page, regardless of your age. Everyone should choose accomplishments that best represent you and how you will fill that need or void for your prospective employer.

Another factor would be to write your accomplishments under each employer in bullet pointed active sentences that are written in the third person. Try to avoid the opposite which would be a resume that is two or more pages, written in paragraph form in the first person. Such as,

Hurtful way:
“I am a sales representative with responsibilities including: building seamless relationships with product suppliers, executing their programs in order for them to achieve their profit goals, effectively manage territory to maximize product potential, and secure display space to increase product visibility and sales.”

Helpful way:
“Built loyal customer base through super-servicing.”

Step 4-Other Categories

Last but not least include a few accomplishments towards the bottom of your resume that show achievements outside of your career, I.E. your personal life. As a reminder narrow your accomplishments down to your most proud moments. Oh yah and make sure to always spell check and have one person proof read your writing before sending it out. The following questions will help you to unearth possible choices.

  1. What awards have you won?
    Any awards, such as academically, athletically, philanthropically and professionally.

  2. What volunteer opportunities have your participated in?
    These events can be to enhance lives professionally or personally.

  3. When were you involved in a fundraising event?
    Explain what aspect of raising the money you were involved in, how much your group raised, and for what cause.

  4. What sports have you competed in?
    Involvement can be early childhood, latter childhood or adulthood.

  5. What classes outside your current position or college degree have you taken?
    For example, computer classes, Dale Carnegie, Decker Communications, Zig Zigler, and Toast Masters

  6. What businesses have you owned, operated or started up?
    Your efforts are commendable regardless if you feel you succeeded. Remember to ask yourself what valuable lesson(s) you learned from the experience

  7. What hobbies do you have?

  8. Whom have you mentored?
    For example, neighbor, a co-worker, or your own child

  9. What job did you have during high school or college?

  10. What scholarship(s) have you received?

  11. What emails, cards or nice notes have you received from a customer, boss, or co-worker, complimenting you on your efforts?

  12. What extras have you done for your employers?
    For example, when did you often stay late or come in early, help someone when it was not required of you, or go out of your way to help the company succeed?

  13. What lessons have you learned about raising children?
    For example, where can you elaborate on what leadership qualities you demonstrated while raising them? How did you delegate, motivate, and effectively discipline them?

  14. What other significant activities have enriched your life?

Step 5-Changing

Can you continue to use the resume you have been using? Of course you can use your old stand-bye resume. However, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to see different results. If you want to see new and improved results then choose to make a conscious choice to change your resume today!

I worked with an engineer who had accomplished much in her career. Her resume however didn’t reflect what specifically she had accomplished. Her resume, was like many people’s resume, and yes, she had received job offers in the past from this exact resume (her current one which she hates). Her resume had long paragraphs with a lot of industry jargon.

When she reconstructed her resume, according to these guidelines, she was hesitant at first to make the change, and send out her newly revamped resume. She gained the courage and sent it out to a few Fortune 500 companies. In 1 day she received calls to interview, from her top 2 choice companies. Way to go! Being able to choose what companies you want to work for, instead of how most people get hired, by letting the company choose them is not what I call fun. Now it is your turn to revamp your resume and get to choose what company you want to work for verses the crummy old way.

As you can see a lot of work on your part goes into your resume and it shows! Imagine how impressed and prepared you’ll look to your future prospect? These are a few prevailing reasons that will empower you to be able to get the job that you want! “There are many more people trying to meet the right person than to become the right person.” Gloria Steinem, Feminist and writer.

-Jessica R. Marriott

Jessica R. Marriott has been a national career strategist for 10 years teaching people how to be simply irresistible and indispensable in their careers5. She also teaches companies how to retain and hire simply irresistible and indispensable employees. Visit her website at and take a free quiz. Marriott can be reached at . All rights reserved © 2000-2004 by Jessica R. Marriott.