10 Tips for Writing a Resume

Man sitting at a desk writing his resume.

Everyone needs a current updated resume whether you are working or are unemployed. It is worth the time and effort to create a resume and then update it at least once or twice a year.  Add more recent accomplishments to it.  Keep a file of accomplishments you have removed so that you can use them if they are appropriate for a particular position for which you are applying.  Those who have a ready resume can immediately respond when that perfect opportunity presents itself. Here are some ideas to think about when writing that resume:

  1. It’s a Marketing Document – Remember your resume is your introduction to the hiring manager or committee.  Its purpose is to convince the reader that you are someone worth interviewing.  Put yourself in that person’s shoes.  What are they looking for?   How do you attract their attention?
  2. Show Your Accomplishments – Every accomplishment on your resume can be written in a format: Problem, Solution, Result.  Sometimes the problem is understood and doesn’t need to be stated but the solution and the result must be there.  If you can quantify the result in some way that really adds to your resume.
  3. Grab Their Attention Immediately – Use the top third of the first page to attract their attention.  Give a summary of the achievements that makes you the ideal candidate.  Depending on the job you are applying for, this might include skills that you have or even achievements in a particular skill. Use whatever works for your particular job level.
  4. Customize Each Resume – It is rare that you will use exactly the same resume for two jobs.  Look at the job ad and familiarize yourself with the job description.  Use many of the words that they use to highlight your experience.  Keep a copy of the resume and the job ad for your files. Be a good record keeper! You’ll want to bring the right resume to your interview.
  5. Use Action Words – Your resume paints a picture of who you are.  Action words make the picture more vivid and dynamic.  Words such as led, delivered, achieved, slashed, transformed etc. give the hiring manager a more desirable picture of your talents.
  6. Eliminate Passive Tense – Using the passive makes it sound like you didn’t do much.  The active voice makes the action yours.  Example: passive -“was chosen to head team that…” or active – “Led team that…”
  7. Use Key words – When applying on line be sure to use words from job ad.  Today most companies use software to scan resumes.  If you haven’t included the words from the job ad, your resume won’t even be read!
  8. Resumes Are Scanned – Some resumes especially snail mailed ones are put in a pile on the desk of the hiring manager.  This person has many resumes to look at.  He or she spends 15 to 20 seconds looking at yours.  Make it easy for the person to scan it for the information they are looking for.  Use bolding appropriately. Make the resume look attractive with lots of white space.  Dense resumes discourage the reader.
  9. Maximum of Two Pages – The objective of your resume is to get the interview not tell your life story.  If you are recently out of school one page is fine.  For people with a long career, two pages, highlighting the last 10 to 15 years, is sufficient.
  10. Use Appropriate Accomplishments – Pick accomplishments that are appropriate for the job you are applying for.  Show that you have had the exact or similar experiences to the ones the company needs.

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Coaching Opportunity

Are you someone who wants to write a resume but you never get to it because there is always something that takes priority.  How do you find the time and the energy to put a resume together?  What is holding you back and how can you get beyond it?  I’ve helped hundreds of clients to move forward on a resume and job search to find a perfect new job.  I’d love to help you.  Email me at asparker@asparker.com or call me at 781-598-0388


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