Four Ways To Help Make Your Resume SuccessfulMar 19th, 2011 | By Bill Ryan | Category: Cover Letters, Employment News, Resumes
So, let’s assume that you haven’t yet started on that New Year’s resolution of rewriting your resume, which of course assumes that you made a New Year’s resolution to rewrite your resume (You did, didn’t you?). Having a current and well written resume is the single best thing you can do for yourself, if you’re thinking about transitioning to another job or career, or if you’re trying to get back into the workforce after a too-long layoff.
As is the case with many such tasks that can be easily dropped down one’s priority list, the hardest part is simply getting started. Once you do pull out that old resume you may find that the rewrite job looks to be about as much fun as doing taxes. And for many, it is. Then there is the question of what actually needs to be done to make your resume a winning one. Is it just updating the contact information and work history, or is there more to it than that? This is a writing exercise can be daunting and frustrating. You may find yourself thinking of postponing this resolution until next year.
To help make your resume rewrite a little easier I’m going to focus on what needs to be done to make it very readable to hiring managers and recruiters, who are the types of people most likely to look your resume over someday. Think of them as your audience. Know their world. It consists of lots of scheduling, running reference and background checks, conducting interviews, debriefing clients or managers, communicating with their network, and all under constant time-pressure. They don’t have the time or interest to read your autobiography, nor will they be attracted to a boring chronology of your past jobs with nothing substantial to set you apart from the vast crowd. You’ve got about fifteen seconds to make a good first impression. Consider the following questions when rewriting your resume:
What is your functional and industry expertise? Don’t make the reader have to infer your skills by looking at work history. Have a lead section or summary that quickly informs and emphasizes what value and talent you would bring to the employer. Categorizing core competencies and special technical skills prior to any list of previous jobs will allow you to be in or out of the hiring ballpark in a hurry.
Where are you on the work-level hierarchy? It should be established very quickly if you are a laborer, assistant, manager, executive, or contracting consultant. This can be highlighted in the lead summary and by bolding or capitalizing current and previous job titles. You need to make it easy for the reader to position you where you want to be positioned.
What have you been up to for the past ten or twelve years? A clearly written chronology of your most recent and relevant past employment should be displayed. And yes, gaps in your work history are a problem. Not what laid-off workers want to hear, I know. So, what can be done about employment gaps? Hopefully, you will be able to show that you tried to remain current and viable with your profession while you were out of work or caring for an ill or elderly family member. Perhaps you received further education and training, or volunteered, perhaps interned, in order to continue maintaining and developing expertise. Also, in most cases, what you did before, say 1998, isn’t going to be that important to someone hiring in 2011.
What have been your significant accomplishments? In this chronicle of your employment there should stand out what you’ve done that has made a real contribution. Refer to tangible measures like revenue and profit increases, lead generations and conversions, savings in costs or resources, or anything else that shows you have improved processes. Think of it as compiling your greatest hits.
You may not be successful with all of your New Year’s resolutions, but if you can get this one right, it just may be enough to make 2011 the year of positive change you hoped it would be.
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This post was submitted by Bill Ryan.