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10 Tips On How To Craft A Perfect Resume

10 Tips On How To Craft A Perfect Resume

If you’re trying to nail your dream job, or just looking for some part-time work, having the perfect resume is vital. You need to stand out from the crowd on a piece of paper, and that is as difficult as it sounds. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

I have prepared and tailored resumes for several clients, and I have observed common mistakes made throughout. Though these may seem minor or superficial to you, they are the difference between an interview and a rejection. Here are some things you need to consider to make yours the perfect resume:

1. Standardise

Your resume should run standardised throughout: the formatting, the font, the colours, everything. Think about the opinion this gives an employer. If your resume is messy, that is the first impression they will have of you – sloppy, disorganised, and unmotivated. Depending on the job you are going for, either use simple spacing, and a clean readable font, or grab a template for a more creative approach. If you really want to stand out, go all out and make a totally unique template, but make sure it is standardised.

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2. Be transparent (social networks, phone number, address)

The perfect resume is all about you, and with the 21st century being a time of transparency (for both companies and individuals), make sure your resume reflects that you have nothing to hide. I don’t suggest adding your Twitter handle or Facebook profile to it (unless you’re going for a digital job, such as a social media role) but include your LinkedIn profile, address, and contact numbers. Employers like to know that they have the ability to contact you, or find out more information about you, from cues given within your resume. It also establishes a subtle trust between both parties.

3. Print your Pitch

If you don’t already have an elevator pitch I suggest you craft one. For those unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch is a quick 30-second summary of yourself, your ambitions, and your skills; you’re meant to be able to reel it off to a potential employer in a brief introduction. Not only does it help your employer, but it helps you understand yourself and what you want to be able to achieve. 30-seconds (or let’s say no more than 150 words) does not give you a lot of room for content, and forces you to prioritise your goals. Once you’ve crafted your self-summary, paste it into the top of your resume. Most employers don’t want to read your life story, but if they can understand you in 3 lines, you have a better chance at securing the job.

4. Tailor to your Market

This is probably the most important point on this list. For your resume to be perfect you have to understand who your employer is. The resume you send to Apple is not going to be the same as the one you send to Goldman Sachs. Do some research and understand your employer’s ethos, company culture, and desires. If you’re applying to a job posted, make sure you read the job description and find where you can highlight that you have the requirements – your experience, key skills, achievements, or education. If your resume is tailored to suit the employer, you have a greater chance even if you do not meet all the requirements. What’s better, a highly-experienced employee people don’t get on with, or a less-experienced employee who gets on with everyone?

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5. Get your things in order

The order of your resume is also vitally important. Personally, I would say there are 5 main sections to consider: Profile, Experience, Interests, Qualifications & Achievements, Key Skills. They are listed in the order I would use them, and here’s why:

Your profile is your elevator pitch. It’s the introduction/synopsis of your resume, and gives the reader a quick glimpse of who you are. Experience is next as they will want to see your experience. I place Interests before Qualifications because they give an insight into what you do outside of working hours, and a greater insight into your personality. Not only that, but if you have some interesting things you do on the side, it is a great way of showing intrinsic motivation. The only suggestion would be that do not include anything that seems very time- or attention-consuming: employers will want you to be dedicated to your work and will not like to see your attention being shared too greatly. Keep Qualifications brief, it’s just a formality to see what education you’ve undergone but does not necessarily play a huge part in the decision-making process (again, dependent on the type of job you are applying for). Key Skills again offers insight into what you think you are good at, displaying confidence and acquired skills. It is a nice way to funnel out at the end of a resume, a smooth ending.

6. Quality, not Quantity

Don’t write your life story. Only include experience and interests which you think are relevant to the job you are applying for. If you’ve worked as an Intern for a competitor, that is more relevant than the fact that you did weekend shifts at Wall-mart. You get the gist, but this depends on how much experience you have to work with.

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7. Go Backwards in Time

Write your experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Your employer is more concerned with the job you just had then something you did 5, 10 years ago. However, relating to point 1, do this for all forms of time-scale throughout your resume. Consistency is key.

8. Unfinished Business

Do not omit any current or on-going work and projects. Your employers want to know what you are currently up to, to gauge whether or not you are ready for the job on offer. They will understand that in having a job you have to give notice periods and these do not often change the opinion of an employer. They would much rather know than not (point 2 – transparency).

9. Add some flare

Do not write your resume like it’s a status report. The common misconception is that a resume is there just so the employer knows what you’ve done, a historical document of your professional life. No! This is not the case. Your resume is designed to sell you. It’s a personal advert. Add some flare, some personality. You’re selling yourself, so sell YOU, not your experience.

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10. Include experience, aims, and achievements

So you’ve got some personality and your experience is listed. However, most people forget to include their aims, goals, and ambitions on their resumes. A company does not only want to know if you’re right for them, but if the company is right for you. They want to be sure that they can give you what you desire also, so that you can both grow alongside each other. This is more important than you think; it may be what you consider your ideal job, but if you feel like you are not learning or developing at all, you will slowly tire and get bored.

Extra Tip for Paper Resumes: Use heavy, quality paper. Psychological research has shown that resumes printed on heavier, good quality paper are seen as more important and better qualified than those on flimsy paper. If you really want the job, you’ve got to pull out all the stops.

I understand that this has been a somewhat lengthy article, but it was my intention to make it thorough the reasonings behind each section so as to give you more insight and ideas in formatting and writing your own resumes. I wish you all the best of luck with job-hunting, and hope your perfect resume allows you to get the perfect job.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via s3.amazonaws.com

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Kerim Hudson

Unemployed

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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