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Steps to a Blockbuster Resume
A resume has one purpose Ė to market your
skills, achievements, professional background, academic history, and future
potential to a prospective employer. Much
like a 30-second commercial, todayís resume must provide maximum data as
quickly as possible, differentiate you from all other candidates, and be
Impossible, you think?
Not at all. Writing a winning
resume simply takes thought and planning. After
all, you wouldnít drive from
without mapping the surest route. The
same goes for your resume. By using
the ResumeEdge© six-step process, youíll gain perspective on your
career target and the audience you need to reach, learn how to showcase your
strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and produce a document with maximum punch.
Of course, if you do need professional
assistance, our certified resume writers are on hand 24/7 to provide expert, personalized
The ResumeEdge© Process
|ē Step One:
||Targeting Your Career and
|ē Step Two:
||Formatting for Maximum Impact
|ē Step Three:
Set and Qualifications Summary
|ē Step Four:
||Accomplishments and Special
|ē Step Five:
|ē Step Six:
||Education and Training
Targeting Your Career and Audience
You must have a clear idea of what you want to
accomplish in your professional life in order to maximize the impact of your
resume for your targeted audience -- the hiring manager or graduate school
you begin, ask yourself these questions. Are you:
a lateral move?
- Pursuing admission into a graduate program?*
For numbers 1-3 above, the most effective way
to begin targeting your resume is to search openings that appeal to you on job
boards (i.e. Monster, Hot Jobs. CareerJournal), internal company postings, or
With these in hand, you can highlight the
qualifications you will need to be considered and the duties you would be
expected to assume. Every match
in terms of qualifications and experience will serve as key words** in your
resume, as well as provide focus so that the resume can be tailored for
your targeted audience. The more closely the content of your resume
matches the content of these postings, the more likely you will be asked to
Resumes provided for graduate school admission showcase your skills,
accomplishments, and academic history in much the same way as ďjobĒ
resumes. The difference is
that an admissions resume will focus on what transitions well to the
classroom, not to the workplace.
words include industry-specific jargon or acronyms (i.e. "generally accepted
accounting principles" (GAAP) for accountants; "Certified Professional Resume
Writer" (CPRW) for resume writers; "Series 7 licensing" for brokers;
public offering" (IPO) for investment bankers; "at-risk child" for social
2 Training" for physicians; "intellectual
property law" for attorneys; "triage" for nurses; and nouns or noun
phrases indicating qualifications or required tasks (i.e. general ledger, word
processing, contract negotiations, benefits, payroll, closing (for sales
people); catering services, new menu items, capacity
planning (for chefs); logistics, quality assurance, advertising
campaigns, product launches, staffing, training, orientations. Companies that
employ scanners require a set number of hits on key words before the
hiring manager will personally review the applicantís resume.
It is always wise to incorporate as many key words as possible into
for Maximum Impact
The moment your resume is opened by a hiring
manager or admissions director, it must appeal to him or her on an aesthetic level,
while accurately reflecting your industry or career goal.
To do anything else is to relegate your resume -- no matter how
brilliantly it is written -- to the rejection stack.
In order to ensure that your resume receives
the initial attention it deserves, itís important to adhere to certain formatting
guidelines, which include:
- Template and Font Choice
- Effective Use of White Space
- Prioritization of Data
Template and Font Choice
all cases, templates and font choice should:
- Be easy to follow.
There is no greater irritation to a busy hiring manager or
admissions director than to receive a resume where data is presented in a
haphazard or inconsistent manner. Thatís
why templates are used. An
effective template will present company names, dates, job titles, academic
information, and all other pertinent data in a clear manner, so that a
quick glance will tell the contact person what they need to know.
But consistency in format isnít the only point to consider.
Templates should be chosen because they accurately
reflect a candidateís career or goal. In other words, a
banker, accountant, or administrative
choose a more conservative format than a graphic artist or interior
designer. Nothing is more
jarring -- or disastrous -- than to receive a financial professionalís
resume written in italics or script with accompanying graphics.
Be easy to read.
Resumes written in bold text or italics are extremely difficult to
read and project a lack of professionalism.
The same goes for artistic fonts that resemble handwriting.
Itís a common misconception that jazzing up a resume with
these stylistic tricks will get the document read.
On the contrary, the resume will get noticed -- and discarded -- within
seconds. Itís not the
font you use that attracts attention, but rather the resumeís initial
appearance and the words crafted within it.
When in doubt about font choice, always err on the conservative
side. Two good choices are
Times New Roman or Arial in 11 points -- no smaller, or the text will be
difficult to read.
Use of White Space
is no quicker way to get your resume ignored than to create a document with (narrow
or nonexistent) margins, and block after block of uninterrupted
text. No one wants to read a
text-heavy document with sentences that run on for four or five lines.
In todayís fast-paced world, you must get your point across quickly, with a minimum of words presented as bulleted sentences
within special sections (i.e. Professional Experience, Education,
Qualifications Summary), separated by well-placed white space.
of white spaces as necessary pauses -- a chance for the hiring manager or
admissions director to catch her breath, collect her thoughts, and digest
(and appreciate) the data youíve presented.
youíre a hiring manager. Itís 7:30
on a Monday morning, and an important position needs to be filled in your
companyís legal department. Over the weekend, 200 resumes came in from eager
applicants all wanting to fill this one job.
Most of the resumes are attractively formatted and use the appropriate
font type. So far so good.
But on closer inspection, most of the candidates have relegated their
willingness to relocate for the position -- a core qualification -- to the
very end of their two-page resumes. More
than a few have buried accomplishments within the text, figuring this will
force the hiring manager to search for that data, which means the entire
resume will have to be read. Some
have placed bar admission, another important qualification, dead last on
the resume, believing that where they can practice law certainly isnít as
important as the fact that they are attorneys.
And a few misguided souls simply list company names and dates of
employment, assuming that the hiring manager should know without asking what
legal duties they performed at these firms.
enough to drive a hiring manager to distraction -- or another career.
then, at last, there are those few resumes that list the important
data at the top of the first page. In less than five seconds the
hiring manager knows that the first candidate is willing to relocate and
assume the cost of those expenses, if required.
This candidate also provides a special section beneath the
Qualifications Summary that indicates where she is licensed to practice law.
The second candidate does the same, while also pulling out Career
Accomplishments and placing them at the top of the first page.
After all, why keep a 100% win rate at trial a secret, or the fact that
one can practice before the stateís Supreme Court?
the above scenario, itís clear which applicants will be called in for an
interview. No hiring manager will
read every single resume that comes across his desk.
Nor will a hiring manager search for data.
In todayís tight job market itís up to the candidate to prioritize
data so that a hiring manager knows at a glance what the job
seeker has to offer the company in terms of achievement, work experience,
education, licensing, certifications, and special concessions, such as
Qualification Summary & Skill Set
yourself at the market after a long day at the office. Youíre in a rush, of
course, and want only to purchase those items on your list, if theyíre
on sale. Hurrying into the
store, you glance around for the weekly advertising piece that indicates which
items will be offered at a discount. Trouble
is, thereís no advertising piece this week, and no one to answer your
questions. If you want to purchase
the items you most need at a discount, youíre forced to walk up and
down each and every aisle until you find whatís available.
sound like much fun or an effective use of time, does it?
And yet this is the same type of frustration hiring managers are
exposed to every time an applicant sends in a resume that fails to open with a
well-written Qualifications Summary and/or Skill Set.
is a Qualifications Summary?
a brief paragraph that showcases your most effective skills and experience as
they pertain to your job search. More
importantly, itís your chance to convince a hiring manager of the skills you
can bring to the position. This is
essential, given that hiring managers generally afford no more than 10
seconds to an applicantís resume, unless theyíre compelled to read
how do you compel them to keep reading?
use this example: Youíre an
accountant who has worked at XYZ Company for nine years and been promoted
every time youíve come up for review. Because
of your organizational efforts, the company is saving $2500 monthly.
Youíve passed the CPA exam.
Youíre skilled in Profit & Loss (P&L), audits, taxation
matters, and internal controls. Now,
you want a Controller position.
than including all of the aforementioned data in the body of the resume, where
the hiring manager would be forced to look for it, but wonít (remember,
youíll be given 10 seconds before the hiring manager moves on), the
wise candidate would write something like this:
detailed professional with comprehensive accounting experience. Background
includes consistent promotions to positions of increased responsibility.
Skilled in P&L, audits, taxation, internal controls, and streamlining
procedures, effecting a monthly savings of $2500 at XYZ Company. Recently
passed the CPA exam; currently seeking a Controller position.
five lines and a mere 45 words, youíve given specific examples
of what you can do (P&L, audits, taxation, internal controls), quantified
an accomplishment (streamlining procedures, effecting a monthly savings of
$2500 at XYZ Company), indicated past performance (consistent promotions to
positions of increased responsibility), provided data on certification
(recently passed the CPA exam), and provided your career path (currently
seeking a Controller position). And
youíve done all of that in a well-written paragraph thatís interesting and
easy to read. (Note that personal pronouns are not used here.
In business writing, which includes resumes, personal pronouns such as I,
me, or my are never used).
Three examples of outstanding
you say, but what about an Objective? Where
does that go?
the modern resume, an objective statement is no longer used.
The reason for this follows.
Summary vs. the Objective
In the outmoded Objective, the candidate
told the hiring manager what
he wanted, whether that was a job at the company, room for advancement, a
chance to use a new college degree, or any other reason an applicant could think
of and the hiring manager could dismiss as self-serving.
On the other hand, the Qualifications Summary proactively declares what
the candidate can do for the targeted company, which places the hiring
managerís needs first. A
wise applicant always uses a Qualifications Summary, either by itself or
combined with a Skill Set.
What is a Skill Set?
speaking, it's a list of your core competencies as they relate to your targeted career
goal. Again, letís take the
example of the accountant who has just passed the CPA exam and now wants to
be a controller. Rather than presenting all of that data in the
qualifications summary, a portion of it would be showcased as a tag line
(professional title or title of job youíre targeting) and skill set, and
might look something like this (followed by a reworked qualifications summary
detailed professional with comprehensive accounting experience. Background
includes consistent promotions to positions of increased responsibility for
notable achievements, including $2500 in monthly savings at XYZ Company by
time, the first two lines, which contain just 15 words, present core strengths quickly and effortlessly.
Accomplishments and Special Skills
There is no data on your resume more important
than your accomplishments. Why?
Think of it this way: youíre a hiring
manager with one position to fill and 10 qualified candidates
clamoring for the position. Each
candidate has the same basic educational and professional background.
So, who gets the job?
The candidate who contributed the most at past
positions. Accomplishments are all
that separate you from other equally qualified candidates, with one
caveat. Your accomplishments must be quantified.
is an Accomplishment?
the companyís bottom line (i.e. facilitating its growth)
projects successfully completed
or industry-sponsored awards
is not an Accomplishment?
responsibilities that are included in your job description
attendance at work
along with co-workers
full-time while going to college at night
or community service unless it has a direct bearing on your job
other words, an accomplishment is service that goes beyond your usual job
description. But for an
accomplishment to have the most effect, it must be quantified.
What is a Quantified Accomplishment?
that includes dollar figures, percentages, and time periods.
example: Our accountant has streamlined procedures, realizing a $2500 monthly
savings for his company. The
dollar figure quantifies the accomplishment, while the ďstreamlined
proceduresĒ explains how he did it.
Now, if he achieved those savings within three months of hire, that
would further strengthen his accomplishments, and it might be written thusly:
the hiring managerís reaction to the above as opposed to this entry:
Doesnít say much, does it?
Skills should always be presented up-front so that a hiring manager
knows what you can do. In some
instances, a special section (i.e. Computer Skills, Languages, Office
Procedures, etc.) should be created to showcase these special skills.
skills will include:
- Office procedures (i.e. answering
multi-lined phone systems, taking dictation (include speed),
transcription, typing (include speed), 10-key, etc.)
capabilities (i.e. fluency in a foreign language, ability to translate,
skill thatís industry-specific for the job youíre seeking
are a few examples of resumes with outstanding accomplishments and skills
showcased effectively for hiring managers:
Professionals Ė Project Manager
Ė Supply Chain Director
Professional Experience section you will list your employers, job titles, and
dates of employment in a reverse-chronological order; that is, your most
recent job comes first, followed by your next most recent job, and so on.
This format is standard and is expected by all hiring managers
and admissions directors.
With regard to employment dates:
Generally speaking, hiring managers prefer years
of employment, rather than months and years (i.e. 1999 - 2003 as
opposed to May 1999 - April 2003). However,
some college admissions programs want specifics when it comes to dates, so
itís best to use precise dates when applying to graduate school.
In the Professional Experience section you will
also include daily tasks and responsibilities beneath the appropriate
employer listing. If youíve
included a Career Accomplishments section in your resume, you should not
repeat that data here. Once
data is presented in a resume, it must not be repeated.
To ensure that your daily tasks are presented
in an interesting and easy-to-read manner, you should do the following:
a bulleted format. This breaks
up large blocks of text that could prove daunting to a hiring manager.
unnecessary articles and adjectives. Your
sentences should be short and snappy.
each sentence with an action verb. This
quickens the pace of your writing and
makes the text more enjoyable to read. For a comprehensive choice of
please use this link: Power
An example of a bulleted format, pared down
writing, and sentences beginning with power verbs follows: (Again, we use our
those jobs where you are still currently employed, write your job duties
in the present tense.
those jobs in the past, write the responsibilities you held in the past
Professional Experience can be captured and showcased in three formats:
In the functional
format, you are stressing what you know over where you gained your
experience. This works for those who have strong skills, but a weak employment
In the chronological
format, you are providing a work history dating back from the present.
This is the most common format and is generally preferred by hiring managers.
In the combination
format, you are stressing what you know in one section, while also
providing work history dating back from the present in another.
This is a highly popular modern format.
STEP SIX: Education and
provided in this section should be prioritized (and included) according to:
- Your current career level (entry-level as
opposed to professional)
purpose of your resume
country in which your resume will be distributed
Your current career level:
youíre an entry-level candidate with little or no professional experience,
your education should be presented immediately after the Qualifications
Summary and/or skills
area. The reasoning for
this is that education is currently your most marketable asset.
Here, you would include:
- GPA (if 3.5 or above)
- Deanís list
- Coursework relevant to job search
youíre a professional with five or more years of experience, Education
should be listed
last on your resume. GPAs,
awards or scholarships, and mention of deanís lists are not generally provided
in a professional or executive resume, except for those used for entrance
into graduate school programs.
purpose of your resume:
sent to admissions directors for graduate school can list Education before
Professional Experience or after, depending upon these factors:
- If the applicant has just recently completed
his bachelorís degree, it should be listed
before Professional Experience.
- If the applicant has real-world experience
related to the graduate degree she is seeking, the Professional Experience
should be listed first.
The country in which your resume will be
If you are distributing your resume within the US, high school education is not included. The only exception to this
rule would be if youíre applying for a job with the federal government. In that case, you would
include high school data.
When distributing a resume outside the US, then high school education is included.
Include all specialized training that is
transferable to your new job target. If you have not attended college,
include all specialized training in your target field. Hiring managers generally prefer to
see some post-secondary education.