resume

2009 will be a time of change.  Included in those changes for many will be a job change.  In tight economic times, job search skills become even more important.  You need to stand out from the crowd.

There are two ways to stand out.  You will stand out if you do things that make you look ridiculous, and you will stand out by doing things that make you look remarkable.  Ridiculous or remarkable: both cause you to stand out, but one gets you the job and one doesn’t.

Naturally then, you hope to be seen as remarkable.  That means you need to create a remarkable resume; remarkable, but not ridiculous.  This three-part series will help you prepare a remarkable resume.

1. Understand the goal of your resume

The goal of your resume is simple – to get an interview. Your resume will not get you the job, only the interview.  Remembering that goal will help shape how you write your resume.  You are not trying to get everything across.  You are not trying to tell them every reason they should hire you.  You are trying to get across enough information to get the interview – and that’s all.

2. Customize your resume for your job target.

In other words don’t use the same resume for each and every job. Employers can easily tell when you use a blanket resume that is the same for each and every job.  Instead you need to use a resume targeted directly for the job you are aiming for. This may mean completely different resumes for each job. For others it may mean a separate resume for each categories of job; for example one resume for all “cook” positions that you apply for.

3. Understand that your resume will only be scanned initially.

Your resume needs to catch attention quickly.  Just like a newspaper aims to catch your attention with stories “above the fold”, the top half of the first page will make or break you. If you are not careful, your resume could be filled under “G – for garbage” before the potential employer even starts to read it.  Make sure the information on the first half of your resume looks good and instantly shows what you can bring to the employer.

4. Your resume is an ad.  You must stress the benefits you will bring to the employer.

Just as in good advertising, your resume must stress the benefits. The places you have worked and things you have studied are your “features”. You need to use your features (experiences) to show how they will allow you to benefit your potential employer.

5. Focus on the employers needs, not on your own.

In order to understand the employers needs you need to learn as much as you can about the job you are applying for.  Start with the job posting itself.  This job posting will include a job description and job specifications.  Make sure your resume clearly connects your skills to the job specifications.

You can go the extra mile by finding someone who works with your potential employer and talk to them about the needs of the company. Use your personal network to make these kinds of contacts.  Any extra information can be used to further customize your resume to the employers needs.

6. Ask yourself: “What about me makes me the perfect candidate?”

Asking yourself this question can help you understand how to present yourself on your resume.  The answer to this question is what you want to get across first.  The better you know the employer, the better you will be able to know why you are the perfect candidate for that job.

7. Put name and full contact information first

Perhaps it is obvious, but the first thing you need to put on your resume, at the very top, is your name and full contact information.  It is amazing how many resumes have very little, or even incomplete, contact information.  You want to be prepared for any way that the potential employer may want to contact you – remember your goal is simply to get the interview.  Include your mailing address, phone numbers, and email address.

8. Use a professional email address and voice mail service.

Be sure your email address is professional looking. Ideally use an email address that includes your name.  It is amazing how many resumes use an email address that includes a nickname as their contact information.  Email addresses such as “skiergirl” or “skaterboy” or even “successguru” don’t sound professional to someone making hiring decisions.

Also, ensure that any voice mail service you use on these phone numbers includes a professional greeting.  And don’t use a phone number where someone else will be taking messages for you.  Be sure that either you will answer the phone, or it will go to voice mail.  You don’t want to risk someone missing the message or sending across the wrong signal to a potential employer.

9. Lead with a summary paragraph.

Following your name and contact information you want to lead with a summary paragraph.  The summary paragraph is where you should present some of the key benefits that will show the employer why you are the perfect candidate for the job. This paragraph should only be about three or four lines long and should be in a formal third-person tone.

10. Know the 3 Types of Resumes.

There are three general types of resumes.  The first is chronological.  A chronological resume presents your work and educational experience in chronological order with the most recent first.  A second type is a functional resume which groups your experience based on job categories.  Finally you can use a combined style.  A combined style generally uses functions as the overarching pattern, but follows a clear chronological order within the functions.  For most people with a variety of work experiences, the combined approach will be the best. It will provide the most opportunity to customize your resume for your employer.

Hopefully these ten points will help you get started on writing a remarkable resume that will help you get the interview you desire.  Part II will continue to help you with what to include on your resume and where to put it.

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