The Resume That Rocks
By Mary Kurek
What would make your resume stand out from the crowd? It's probably not what you think it would be. So many people frustrate over what to put on a resume or try so hard to make it visibly 'exciting' that they forget the focus. While the resume is about them, the focus should be placed on who is going to read the resume. Remember, you're not writing it to please yourself. That having been said, the best way to get you to a resume that rocks, is to tell you what makes a resume hit the trash can before it even has a chance. I?ll bullet a list below.
- Colored paper with or without graphic images around the border is unprofessional. (Exceptions are cream, beige, and light gray paper.)
- An e-mail address that tells too much about the candidate (i.e.: wildchild--.com, guymagnet--.com, or watchingyou--.com) is again, unprofessional. I advise not including an e-mail address.
- Resume is too long. (1-2 page resume is plenty, unless you are in a technical field or in a CEO position.)
- Objective is too general or unclear. Wanting a position that makes use of your talents and allows for growth tells the reader nothing and wastes valuable space.
- Titled Sections such as ?Hobbies? or ?Personal Qualities? are not the norm, and can be viewed as a candidate?s attempt to 'fluff out' the resume.
- Large gaps in work history without explanation raises a flag.
- Too much unrelated work history confuses the employer.
- Too many full-time jobs held in a 10-year period raises suspicion.
- Typos and incorrectly used or spelled words just scream 'trash me.'
Actually, I could probably keep going with the list above, but you want to knowwhat will make your resume rock. I?ll give you my advice from experience as a resume writer and job hunting expert. If you have a good professional format, then what brings the spotlight to your resume will be the personal attention you give to the company to which you are submitting your resume. That's right ? it has little to do with your actual resume, but it is the first, most powerful idea to get into your head. Do your homework. Design your Objective specific to the job at that company. You can always change it for another job opportunity. You should know something about the company that you could incorporate into your cover letter, and you should have a real person's name to put on your letter and envelope. If you can possibly hand deliver your resume to the person that should get it, or to their assistant, plan to do so, unless you are responding to an ad that advises you otherwise. Your attention to personal details will get the attention of the hiring agent.
Second, and this is big, instead of listing your job description with each work history entry, give measurable figures and facts that relate to how you contributed or made a difference in that position. If you are submitting a resume for a job in the same industry as you've worked before, the hiring agent likely knows what your job descriptions would have included. He or she will want to know what makes you better than anyone else. What did you do in that last job that will make you especially valuable in this new position?
I?ll give you few ideas to better explain what I mean. For instance, did you streamline a process, thereby saving the department or the company several thousand dollars? Did you take on a training responsibility that wasn't in your job description that saved the company from having to hire someone at 'x' dollars a month? Did you create a program, coordinate a manual, handle a marketing campaign unique to the company, and increase the bottom line or the membership by a certain percentage? Did you handle the organization's first major fundraiser, or solve a huge problem they were having? If so, list it, and indicate the figures or facts that express the value.
If you were never in a position to make quite that kind of impact at a company, you may be able to give a different set of measurable figures, like the number of accounts you managed, patients you registered daily, members you serviced, or customers or vendors you handled.
If you are in the hospitality industry, you could indicate the number of tables served nightly, staff you've supervised and/or trained, budget you managed, or payroll figure you processed.
The aim in giving evidence-based descriptions with your work history is to show clearly your value to the hiring agent. The moment his/her eyes hit anything with a dollar sign, a percentage mark, or a number, it will glue them to your resume to see what else you have done. Your well-prepared cover letter will set the stage by briefly mentioning any special leadership activity, award, or other information that you couldn?t share in the resume.
While there are other details that will get you and your resume some extra attention, what I've explained in this article should go a long way in bringing your resume to the top of the pile. If it seems overwhelming to put together, it really isn't. The key is to have a very simple, professional format, and not get mired down in trying to include 'everything'. Beyond that, a little coaching from someone who knows the ropes is something I recommend to everyone. After all, who among us can claim to be our own best marketing expert?