Posted By Amanda Collins on March 13, 2009
I was recently invited to be on a local Phoenix morning show to discuss the top three things your resume should have to be successful. The appearance hasn’t yet occurred, but I thought I would offer a heads-up to you, my loyal readers, to make sure your resume is meeting the mark. In addition, I have some ideas to really set your resume apart from the competition.
When I started writing resumes in 1996, at the suggestion of a college professor, we used objectives at the top of the resume. I bucked the trend a little bit by being more succinct, but most people would write something like:
Objective: To acquire a position in which I am able to contribute to the team environment while achieving personal satisfaction.
Huh? What does that mean exactly?
If you’re still using something like this, stop! It’s very unclear what you want. More importantly, this objective is all about you – and a resume is really about the employer and what you offer them. Make sure your title is to the point and tells the reader who you are for them.
For added oomph, add a branding tag after your title to really drive your point home.
A resume is a marketing document designed to get you an interview. As such, employers don’t “read” resumes, they scan them. You have roughly a minute to make an impression. That starts with the design of your resume, but then it goes to the content. If you go right into your work experience, how are you differentiating yourself?
Your summary is just what it says: a summation of you. It should answer these questions: “Why should an employer hire you? What do you bring to the table? Why are you better than the other candidates?” This isn’t where you say you’re a nice person who shows up to work on time. Say how you consistently spark creativity and ideas from your team, how you deliver results in sales efforts, how you have developed relationships around the globe, etc. This is the most important real estate on your resume and should pack some punch.
For added oomph, put in a core competency section with strong keywords that show your skills.
So many resumes I see are task-based, meaning they say the person did things. While that’s certainly a component of a resume, it’s not at all the most important component. Here’s an example I like to share with clients:
You’re interviewing for a custodian and – for the sake of argument – you ask for resumes. One custodian says on his resume that he cleaned toilets, mopped floors, etc. The other custodian said that he did those things but he also received an award for the cleanest toilets in the building and reduced water flow 25% by suggesting upgrading to low-water use toilets. Which person are you more interested in meeting?
In your accomplishments, think about ways you made a difference for your past employers, preferably with quantitative results. This is the area where an employer is likely to say, “Hey, WE have that same problem, and look at how she solved it at ABC Company! I need to call her.”
Writing a resume is kind of like selling a house; when you’re selling, you want to allow prospective buyers to envision themselves in your house. On your resume, you need to allow prospective employers to envision you in their company. Make it easy for them.