Want to know how to write a resume that separates you from your competition? Follow the guidelines in this article.
As a senior corporate leader for many years, and later, as a small business owner and management consultant, I have reviewed countless resumes, and I have also submitted resumes as a job seeker. I have learned that there are principles that must be included when writing a winning resume.
And, as you will see, free “cookie cutter” templates and samples that abound on the internet are only partially useful in writing a great resume. They will not differentiate you sufficiently. The real key is in constructing the resume as a strong sales and marketing piece.
Whether you are senior manager, a college graduate, own your own business, are looking to change careers; or are using a resume within your own organization, everyone will benefit from a current, well written resume. There are many different resume types and each is served by a slightly different format, but they all should follow similar principles.
Let’s start with a question: what is the purpose of a resume? If you answered something that sounds like: “to capture all the things I’ve done in my career so an employer will see just how good I am and hire me for a zillion dollar salary”, you would be wrong! If you answered, “the purpose of a resume is to get an interview” you would be correct! Your resume is a strategic marketing document that makes an employer want to call you in for an interview.
Mindset and Preparation
Before you pick up a pen to write a single word, you need the right mental preparation for writing a resume. Be thorough about this because many times people take important things for granted – we use a 21 point questionnaire to make sure we have captured all important information.
Organize all of the relevant information – write down a list of:
o Problems that you have solved
o Character traits that make you different and effective
o Work history
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes – Today an employer gets hundreds of applications for a single advertised job. So how do you think they will they make their choices of which person to interview? If you answered, the first lines of the resume, usually the objective, have to catch her eye very quickly, you would be right again! You want your resume to be remembered. Make it easy to see how you are a good candidate for the job.
Have a very specific objective in mind. The resume should be written for the specific job that you are trying to get. This will help you write a resume that includes keywords that match the job description, and makes you look like a tailor-made prospect for the job. Always remember though to be truthful in whatever you say.
Be ruthless about excluding, or de-emphasizing job experiences that are not relevant, or not helpful, as long as it doesn’t create a large gap in employment history. For example, a part time job at McDonald’s may not be helpful in landing a statistician’s job after graduation.
If you are over 50, you may want to exclude very early jobs that are less important. This strategy can make your resume look more current, minimize any obstacles, and increase the probability of getting the interview. As an alternative, extract the skills that you learned from the excluded jobs and put them in a qualification statement. Be selective about what you include, but be truthful.
Plan to include a “Power Cover Letter” that is addressed to a specific person in the company, and in it, highlight the most impressive parts of your resume that are important to your employer. Since many people do not do the cover letter, doing so, can set your resume apart, communicate why you are different, and enhance their interest in your resume.