Writing and Rewriting Your Resume
Effective Resume Writing Tips
One of the most difficult challenges faced by job seekers is writing a resume. The trouble with resume writing is that almost universally, people think the purpose of writing a resume is to “get a job.” While getting a job may be the desired outcome, the real purpose of a resume is to get an interview. With that in mind, your resume should and must set the tone and the content for that anticipated interview event! Effective resume writing should guide the reader there. It should make the reader want to know more about you, and more about what you can do.
Another problem arises in resume writing when there is a disconnect between the resume writer and the eventual resume reader. An effective resume is focused, precise, and purposeful, and written as the reader will see it, not in a way that the reader sees his or her self. Likewise, job seekers tend to write resumes from a position of needing to be employed. Employers want to see a resume that reflects the applicant’s desire and capability to perform and achieve goals. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one to recognize and understand when you set out to write or rewrite your resume. Here are some resume writing tips to help you develop an effective resume that will start landing you those interviews!
Send your prospective employer the right message
An effective resume is a real marketing tool that presents your strengths, your accomplishments and your experiences in an easily understood, targeted and positive light. An effective resume presents strong evidence of what you want, and what you’re capable of. It details where you’ve gained the education and experiences that verify and validate those claims. Most importantly, it leads the reader to the conclusion that you’ve gained knowledge, skill, and strength in your capabilities, and that you know how to reliably recall and use them to accomplish specific, desired outcomes. Whether you’re contemplating a career change, a first job step, a step up, or even a lateral interim position, your resume reflects your past, your present and your future.
Critiquing your resume
Ask yourself a few questions to see if your resume will pass the HR test :
- What is the applicant’s objective? Are they seeking more responsibility or less? Is this a lateral career move, and if so, why?
- Do the resume skills and accomplishments add up to the objective, or is this an entirely new direction? If so, why the change? Are there clear reasons and a clear foundation for it?
- Given the scope of previous jobs, and the job under consideration, can the applicant’s skills be used and relied upon to attain or exceed recognizable goals? Have they before?
- Is there steady progress in using the skills toward increasing levels of responsibility or expertise? Is there recognition or verifiable evidence that lateral movements are not due to ineffective or unsatisfactory performance? Are lateral moves simply because they love what they do? Do they want to challenge or advance their abilities now?
- Is it clear that this person is professionally dedicated to their stated activities? Are there disconnects between jobs and other non-career actions or involvements?
- Are there blank or unexplained lapses in professional history?
- Are there frequent changes in direction, or a series of short-term “job-hopping” moves?
- Are there metrics (numbers) attached to measure this person’s performance?
- Does the resume indicate that the applicant shares a common vocabulary and “fit” with the new prospective employer?
Effective resumes begin with clear resume objectives
It’s a bad sign when a resume has no clear or stated objective. From a hiring manager’s point of view, you will need much direction, management and training to do your job. An Objective holds your resume together, and believe it or not, it is one of the best guidelines you have for what the rest of your resume should say. If you want to simplify and energize your resume, tell the reader what you are really after in 2 or 3 sentences, then make the rest of your resume content tell the story of your journey there.
Examples of a well-crafted resume objective:
“To continue my history of success creating and directing project management driven time and cost savings for $50 million plus complex technology initiatives.”
“I am seeking the next level in management and responsibility in my proven 15 year IT career.”
“To provide the best customer service possible in a fun, but focused and purposeful organization.”
“To add my engineering skills to a team that is creating new energy alternatives in a globally conscious and locally focused sustainable solar energy market.”
Skills and Accomplishments that Add Up with Metrics
Along with an objective-driven clear focus, effective resumes provide precise and concise information about only the most important skills, responsibilities and accomplishments. Metrics are attached to each completed result - what was created, what changed, what was the impact? Even if your “metrics” are a statement about how your boss’s attitude changed about your work after an event (I was given greater autonomy; trusted with increasing and additional responsibilities; singled out thereafter for involvement in similar activities; recognized in my performance appraisal), you need to let the reader know that your actions somehow, somewhere, or some way, made a difference.
Resulting from 5 years of cumulative experiences in fundraising and building non-profit organizations, chosen as a Steering Committee Member, Workshop Presenter and Project Manager in charge of volunteer teams for registration, outreach, table presentations and major sponsorship donations for national event campaign, empowering minority and underprivileged youth to enter higher education and careers in math and the sciences. Raised $75,000 in sponsorships and in-kind donations, and filled 300 open registration slots with school and university students through close collaboration with MESA, Student Unions and other campus and community groups.
Explain the meaning and account for your time
Look objectively at your resume. Are there unexplained times and changes in events or purpose? Are you writing a career change resume? If you don’t explain these things or account for them in your resume, chances are you will not be given the opportunity to explain them in an interview. You can either do this in your resume, or in your cover letter, with cleverly devised statements, such as;
“In 2009, I changed directions to refocus my career on customer service,”
“After 5 years of learning and acquiring the skills and experiences I needed, I determined to change my career so I could pursue my real lifelong desire to become a park ranger.“
“Due to uncertain economic times, the project lost funding and forced a change,”
“I left the company to pursue a more focused career objective,”
“After an extended period of attending to personal family matters, I returned to my career, and began again as an assistant.”
Put your resume to the final test
Create a list of questions and answers, structured from your resume that will likely be asked by your prospective employer. As you create your resume, just remember; your purpose is to answer the questions that will remove any obstacles to obtaining an interview. You want it structured in a way that leads the interview into that offer for a job. Let your passion and your excellence shine, and show how you’ve grown, improved and changed through your career.
With these resume writing tips, you should be well on your way to getting an interview. Remember, the interview is your goal, not an offer.
Best of luck.