As a journalist, I’m often asked to review and edit resumes by friends and family. Your resume is an invaluable marketing tool that “speaks” for you, and should compel the hiring manager to act — namely pick up the phone and invite you to participate in an interview.
It’s true that your resume must pique the interest of the person reading it within 30 seconds. In many instances, your resume must first pass through screening software utilized by many companies before it’s even read by a human.
While I’m not a certified resume writer or career coach, there are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to you.
No Dissertations, Please
You’ve heard the old rule that resumes shouldn’t be longer than a single page unless you’re a seasoned, senior-level professional with numerous years of experience. I’ve read other career experts comment that in some cases, it’s OK have a resume that’s two pages, depending on the position. Now that more resumes are submitted through online systems, it may seem less important to worry about resume length. I think the main point is to make every word count. Think about quality over quantity.
With sky-high unemployment rates, companies can be incredibly selective. Use your resume to sell yourself as the perfect solution for their employment need. Use every word and phrase for this purpose. If it doesn’t speak to the needs of the employer, leave it out. Now, I definitely recommend keeping a comprehensive list of your achievements, results and professional experiences somewhere — whether it be in a CV or a running Word document. Use this document as “bank” of information to draw from when creating and tailoring a resume for each respective company you’re pursuing.
Use Key Words
Nowadays many companies require job seekers to apply online and even construct their resume through online forms. It’s incredibly important that your resume contain the key words that are used by the company in the job description, posting, etc. Re-read the job description and highlight the specific words and phrases used to describe the company’s needs. Review your resume to make sure that it includes these words.
It’s Not About You, It’s About Them
Hiring managers and company execs don’t care how badly you need this job. They don’t care that you want to use this position to help develop your skills. They have a need, and you are trying to sell your skills and yourself to fill that need. Adopt this mindset, and consider what you offer them, not what you can get out of them, and you will be more successful. Remember you are not selling the features of your career, but the ways you can benefit the company.
Scrap the Objective, Use a Tagline and Qualifications Profile
Using an objective statement at the beginning of your resume has been a traditional standard. More and more career coaches are encouraging job seekers to re-purpose this section to a qualifications profile. Describe yourself and your attributes in the third person to sell your qualifications to the employer. Come up with a career tagline that “brands” you and use that instead of the traditional heading that says, “Objective,” “Summary of Qualifications,” or “Career Profile.” For example, are you a Bilingual Luxury Brand Manager? Well, say so and use something like that for your headline.
Focus On Results, Not Duties
Your resume shouldn’t be a laundry list of your everyday duties, but rather describe the results of your work. Each bulleted item under your career entry should begin with an action word and a key result or achievement, i.e., “Reduced printing costs by 26% through vendor research and negotiation.” Use numbers to quantify your success. How many team members did you supervise? How much money did you save the company? By what percent did you increase customer retention?
Be a STAR and Show, Don’t Tell
Have you heard about the STAR? It’s an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Use this acronym to help you show your value and structure your success stories, whether it’s on your resume, in your cover letter and during the actual interview. Remember it’s one thing to say you’re a solution-finder, it’s another to give a STAR example of how you solved important problems and served as an asset to your organization.
Name That Resume
When you’re saving your resume, use your name in the file name, such as “Ashley_Cisneros_Resume.doc” so that way the recipient can easily identify your resume when it’s downloaded on his or her computer. Make sure you’re easy to find!
Create a Cover Letter
Don’t send that resume without a cover letter. It’s naked without it. Your cover letter introduces you, complements your resume without simply repeating it, and can be used to draw the manager’s attention to the top reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Take time to find out the correct spelling of the hiring manager’s name. Don’t be afraid to call to ask. Show that you go the extra mile. Don’t use “Sir or Madam” or worse, “To Whom It May Concern.”
Follow Format Preferences
Re-read the job posting to find out the preferences. Does the employer want a resume in PDF form,RTF or as a Word doc? Does the company want writing samples? Does the posting say that the company hates attachments? Pay attention and submit accordingly.
What tips can you share?
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.