What is a resume?
A resume is a focused summary of qualifications, skills and background (employment and educational) that you have to offer a potential employer. It is an accomplishment-oriented document. A resume forms the first impressions an employer will have of you and represents you in your absence. The primary purpose of a resume is to obtain an interview.
What does a resume do for you?
> Focuses attention on your unique abilities and accomplishments
> Creates a desire to meet you personally and to find out more about you
> The resume is a selling tool that outlines how you can contribute to the employer’s work place
Who is your audience?
Your resume is not the only resume on the manager’s desk. It is 1 of 50 or 1 of 100’s. The better the position and the better the company you are applying to, the more individuals your resume will be competing against. Remember the manager is looking for a specific type of person. They are not going to interview all of the candidates. Only 4 to 5 candidates will be interviewed.
The manager knows the type of person they are looking for. If you don’t write what they are looking for, your resume will be tossed out. If you write what the manager wants to hear, you will be one of the 4 to 5 interviewed.
Most job seekers write their resume for the hiring manager. However, do consider that your resume has up to 3 potential audiences. Ensure you have understanding of who will likely review your resume and what criteria they are browsing for…
- Screeners/HR – looking for match to the list qualifications of the position
- Executive Decision Makers/Hiring Managers – looking for impact on bottom-line initiatives
- Third Party Recruiters – looking for selling points to position you as top candidate
When most people write their resume (90%+) they are not thinking about what the manager is looking for, they are thinking about themselves. They write their autobiography. The manager is not interested in your life story. The manager is looking for someone who can best do the job and solve their problem.
The manager wants to see what they are looking for. The resume has to be honest, but it also has to focus on the part of your background that is relevant to what the manager seeks.
Make your resume easy to read
Writing your resume in a bullet point format will enable the manager to easily scan your resume.
- Bullet point job descriptions are 3 times faster to read than long paragraphs
- In 20 seconds, a manager can read a bullet point format resume
One or two full pages are essential. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have more than two years of full-time work experience, you should not have more than one page.
Make use of ‘accomplishment statements’
When defining your work on your resume, show accomplishments instead of merely listing your job duties or the type of function that you do or did. Show an accomplishment utilizing these three criteria:
- Use an action verb in the past tense (or present tense if you are currently working)
- Give a brief description of what you did
- Show, where possible, the result in terms of %, #, or $. Percentages, numbers, and dollars stand out on a resume, more so than just words. When quantifying is not possible, its important to identify scope for the reader (i.e. “Responsible for the entire division’s activities”)
- Developed [action verb] policy manual [what you did] which ensured consistency in customer relations and reduced complaints by 33% [measurable result]
- Initiated policy of inventory control which reduced stock thefts by $10,000 per month
Achieved, Assessed, Expanded, Improved, Reduced (losses), Resolved, Restored, Spearheaded, Transformed, Lectured, Mediated, Overhauled
Clerical or Detail Skills
Approved, Arranged, Cataloged, Classified, Complied, Dispatched, Executed, Generated, Implemented, Monitored, Operated, Organized, Prepared, Processed, Purchased, Recorded
Addressed, Arbitrated, Arranged, Authored, Collaborated, Convinced, Corresponded, Developed, Directed, Drafted, Edited, Formulated, Influenced, Interpreted, Moderated, Negotiated, Persuaded, Promoted, Publicized, Reconciled, Recruited, Spoke, Translated, Wrote
Acted, Conceptualized, Created, Customized, Collected, Developed, Directed, Established, Fashioned, Founded, Inspected, Initiated, Instituted, Integrated, Introduced, Invented, Originated, Performed, Planned, Revitalized, Shaped, Systematized
Allocated, Analyzed, Appraised , Audited, Balanced, Calculated, Computed, Developed, Diagnosed, Forecasted, Managed, Marketed, Planned, Retrieved, Screened, Specified, Tabulated, Validated
Administered, Analyzed, Assigned, Attained, Chaired, Consolidated, Contracted, Coordinated, Delegated, Developed, Directed, Evaluated, Executed, Improved, Increased, Organized, Oversaw, Planned, Prioritized, Recommended, Reviewed, Scheduled, Strengthened, Supervised
Clarified, Collected, Critiqued, Diagnosed, Evaluated, Examined, Extracted, Identified, Inspected, Interpreted, Interviewed, Investigated, Stimulated, Reviewed, Summarized, Surveyed, Systematized, Administered
Assembled, Built, Calculated, Computed, Designed, Devised, Engineered, Fabricated, Maintained, Operated, Remodeled, Repaired, Solved, Upgraded, Designed
Adapted, Advised, Clarified, Illustrated, Communicated, Developed, Enabled, Encouraged, Evaluated, Explained, Facilitated, Guided, Informed, Instructed, Persuaded, Set goals, Assisted, Trained, Coached
Formatting checklist for resumes
> Boldface type, italic type or capitalization used selectively to highlight important parts of your resume (e.g. your name, position titles)
> Remember what you highlight is what you want an employer to read
> One or two (max) full pages
> Use a clear font and size (10 to 12)
> Be accurate on employment history dates
> Keep formatting consistent – limit to two font types
> Omit provide personal information (e.g. age, marital status, photo)
> Omit reference contact information on your resume
> All dates should align right or left
> Heading font size should be 12 to 14 and bold
Grammar checklist for resumes
> Concise action phrases rather than complete sentences
> Avoid use of personal pronouns (e.g.: “I” or “we”)
> Proof-read your resume for spelling and grammar
> Don’t rely on spell check
> Keep your verb tense consistent
> Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments
> Do not use periods at the end of bullet points
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