Rewriting Your Resume:
7 Easy Ways To Give Yourself An Upgrade
In today's competitive job market, a first class resume is an
essential tool for winning an interview. The way in which you
present your skills, achievements and experience on paper will
profoundly affect the way in which a hiring company considers your
An expertly crafted resume not only captures the attention of its
reader through careful attention to layout and formatting; it also
targets the specific needs of the potential employer by matching and
highlighting your abilities and background to the key requirements
of the position.
So what exactly is the 'perfect resume'?
It's well-nigh impossible to get recruitment professionals to agree
on this. For example, take the vexed question of the 'resume
objective'. Some employers prefer to see a clearly stated objective
as evidence of a candidate's career focus; others consider including
an objective to be a restrictive practice -- or worse, little more
than vague waffle.
So in the pursuit of a truly personalized resume, it's hardly
surprising that effective practice differs from applicant to
applicant -- and what suits one job-hunter may not work so well for
And while it's impossible to lay down hard and fast rules of best
practice in resume writing, it's a whole lot easier to identify some
of the habits that can turn recruiters right off -- perhaps even
sabotage a candidate's chances from the start!
In this article, I've collected some of these common resume blunders
-- so if you're looking to upgrade your resume, here's a checklist
of seven easy ways to start!
1. Don't rely on a 'one size fits all' resume
If your resume is going to get you the interviews you deserve, it
needs to focus on the particular demands of the job. So unless your
field is very narrow, it's likely that you'll need to adapt your
resume to each specific application.
To help you target your resume, try answering these questions:
• you're thinking of applying for a job; what would the perfect
applicant be like?
• what are their most important characteristics?
• what skills and attributes do they possess?
When you profile the 'ideal candidate' in this way, you're putting
yourself in the employer's shoes: thinking first about what matters
to them and imagining what they'll be looking for when they make a
short list from all the applications they'll receive.
This is a really useful exercise to help you decide which of your
own abilities and achievements to spotlight in your resume.
2. Make sure you include complete contact information
Your cover letter may get separated from the resume. Don't blithely
assume that because your address and telephone number are in the
cover letter, they don't need to be on the resume as well -- they
If the employer wants to get hold of you, they'll likely use the
phone. So ensure that you give a personal number (including area
code) where you can be reached during the day or where messages can
be left. Include a cell phone number and e-mail address where
3. Make the resume easy to read
Don't print your resume in any font size smaller than 11 pt. Be
liberal with white space and remember that bullet points in a list
help a reader to absorb information.
You can emphasize headers and key points by discreet use of bold
type, capitals or underlining -- but don't overdo the effect.
Consider going on to a second sheet if a single page is crammed.
4. Seize the reader's interest in the first few lines
If your application is one of dozens or even hundreds received, you
need to capture the attention of the reader in just a few seconds.
The best way to focus interest at the start is with a powerful
objective -- or, if you prefer it, a skills summary. It's the place
to emphasize your key achievements and core expertise and identify
specific job goals.
The employer wants a straight answer to the question 'What can this
person do for me?' -- so make your profile easy to read and give a
clear statement of what you can bring to the job.
5. Don't underplay your achievements and experience
You've already imagined what the perfect candidate for the job would
be like. So now focus on those aspects of your own background and
skill set that best illustrate those attributes.
Highlight your key accomplishments and areas of authority and,
wherever possible, use action verbs and statements that quantify
what you have achieved. But don't get creative here: make sure you
give evidence for your claims.
6. Order your information according to what the reader wants to know
There's no single correct order of elements in a resume. Everything
depends on what the employer or recruiter is most interested in
In general, put your most relevant material first! Many recruiters
like a reverse chronological order of dates.
Also be aware that some employers dislike a purely functional resume format and
feel that it glosses over gaps in work history or other
7. Check your spelling and grammar
There's no substitute for careful proofreading of your resume. Use
grammar and spell checking software by all means, but be aware that
it may not always pick up contextual errors.
Print the document and check it on paper rather than on screen. If
possible, ask a reliable friend or relative to double check for
mistakes. Don't forget to check that you have spelled names
Conclusion: keep developing your resume
Your resume is a powerful marketing tool. It will always be a 'work
in progress', constantly needing updates and refinements according
to changing circumstances. If you're planning or conducting a job
search, redrafting your resume could be one of the best investments
you make towards your future career success.
About the Author
Nigel Patterson is a business writer and publisher of http://1st-class-resume.com/
Visit his website for more tips and advice on writing an effective
resume and cover letter, resume distribution and preparing for a job
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