Five Tips for Making Your Resume Sell You Effectively
A lot of people think that a resume is nothing more that a list. You list the jobs youíve had, you list the places youíve worked and you list the things youíve done. Then you just put your name and phone number at the top and youíre finished.
Unfortunately, that is completely wrong.
A resume is really a marketing document. Itís a document designed to sell you and your potential as an employee. And just like any good marketing document, that means you have to make decisions about how youíre going to present your material.
Remember, like an advertisement, a resume needs to catch the readerís eye and deliver your message in a matter of seconds. Moreover, a resume needs to present your most effective material in the most efficient way. Iíve italicized the words "most effective" because they are important. You donít want to put everything youíve ever done on your resume. Your resume would be too long, for one thing, and it would probably be too boring for another. If you only have a few seconds to make your case to the reader, then you need to make sure youíre putting your best foot forward. You want to pick and chose what materials you highlight, in an effort to present your credentials in the best way possible.
In other words, you want to look over your work history and pick your best selling points. Perhaps this means highlighting specific skills you have: specific software programs you are efficient in maybe; unique talents that qualify you for the job. It might mean highlighting specific accomplishments: that big sales account you brought in, or the famous documentary that you worked on. And it might mean emphasizing certain experience over other, less relevant experience.
Deciding what details make for your best "selling points" can be the hardest part of writing a resume. So, here are five basic tips to help you design your resume in a way that best markets your potential to employers:
- Choose the most relevant items. This might seem like a no-brainer, but youíd be surprised how many people forget this. Emphasize the skills and experience that are most applicable to the job youíre applying for. Sure, you might have a whole range of other skills, and you can list those too. But give greater emphasis to those things that best qualify you for the job. Letís say youíre a professional that is skilled in both sales and management. But youíre applying for a sales job. Obviously, youíd want to put more of a focus on your sales experience. Donít leave your management experience off entirely, but design your resume in such a way as to underline your most relevant qualifications.
- Highlight the cutting edge, and de-emphasize the outdated. This is especially important for more experienced workers. As a professional, we hope you are always growing, adapting, learning new things. Put more emphasis on the skills and experience that put you at the forefront in your industry. You might be incredibly handy at some of the old programming languages from the 70s, but itís going to look even better to an employer if you can show youíre also fluent with the new, cutting edge technologies like Linux or Flash.
- Use tangible examples. When selecting which accomplishments to highlight, be as specific as possible. Use tangible numbers if you can. Simply saying you have a proven track record for effecting gains in productivity is fine. But itís so much better if you can say something like: "Increased productivity department-wide by 35% over two years." Remember, you want to get the employer thinking that if they hire you, theyíll see a return on their investment. Results get you hired, just like results get you raises. Show them you can get results.
- Have multiple resumes that market you in different ways. This plays off of tip number one. If youíre going for several different types of positions, then youíre going to want to create several different resumes that play best to the unique qualifications for each position.
- Have someone else give you an objective opinion. This is perhaps the most important tip. For most of us, itís hard to be objective about our own careers. Remember, youíre trying to emphasize the things that will be most impressive to an employer, not the things that were most important to you. Give your resume to a friend, or better yet, someone in the industry. Have them critic what youíve done to see if they think youíve highlighted the most impressive things about your career. This is a very good reason to employ a professional resume writer. One of the most important things resume writers do is help their clients look at their career in a critical and constructive way, so they can come up with the most effective marketing document possible.
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