May 29, 2013

Resume Writing 101

Hand with brush and paintI came across a young woman the other day who was in search of resume advice. She’d graduated from college four years ago, worked in sales for multiple years only to discover that her true passion was communications. Now, she’s looking to enter the marketing/communications field, but she’s running into a problem: She doesn’t have any experience.

This woman needed help crafting her resume to utilize the skills she did possess to land her a role in the field of her dreams. And after talking with her I realized, a lot of people run into this issue on a daily basis: How do I write a resume that highlights not only my skills but transforms what looks like turnoffs—employment gaps, lack of education/certifications and lack of experience—into areas that demonstrate personal development and growth? Hopefully the following will help:

While it might be pointless to have your resume read like one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (although sadly, we have seen it and you should never do it), there are ways to add some serious punch to your resume that can help you land the job you desire.

There are many professional resume-writing services out there that will try and convince you that what you need is an artistically composed resume that is sure to be a delight to the reader’s senses, but this isn’t always the case. Please don’t employ the services of a professional resume writing service without first considering doing it on your own. It is often best to hone your very own skills and have a go at your resume yourself.

Do you know the main characteristic of a resume that gets noticed over one that never does? The one that gets noticed, and will help you jam your foot in the door, is the one that promotes you as the product. Yes, you read that right: you need to pretend that you are the advertiser and you need to sell yourself to a prospective client. But, just how do you do this?

  • Take a good accounting of everything mentioned in the advertisement.
  • Track down employees within the same department on websites like LinkedIn and Twitter to make a determination as to how you add up on a corporate scale.
  • Be sure that your own skill set matches closely with that of top performers and is in line with the requirements for the position.
  • Look at the “problem areas” of your resume, e.g. employment gaps, and think about how to spin them. Did you take any professional development trainings? Learn a new skill or language? Anything that helped to improve your professional life and character is a great addition to any resume.

Keep in mind that the recruiter who has the opening will have to go through hundreds of resumes, which is a totally accurate number considering the current state of the job market. What is going to make the recruiter read your resume instead of just throwing it into the “maybe” pile?  Recruiters are looking for something that will jump out at them and convince them to pick up the phone and call you immediately for an interview.

Remember, the very reason that you create a resume is to get an interview. If the phone is not ringing, then your advertising strategy is not working.  The recipe for resume success is similar to that of a sales pitch to a client.

You need to be able to tell them in as few words as possible that if they hire you as an employee they will get these particular and immediate benefits. In short you need to tell them what your assets are and how these assets are going to build their brand and enhance their corporate identity.

Whenever possible, use sensory verbs and qualify your skills.  Instead of writing something like “efficient filing skills” change it to “successfully amalgamated the Human Resources and Accounting files in order to facilitate the flow of information between the two departments.” Employers want to see action and achievement, not just a list of skills. In order to succeed, you need to prove yourself out of the multitude of other applicants that come pouring into their inbox on a very regular basis.

Read more in Resume Writing

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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