Great Tips For Preparing Your Resume

Use of Keywords

Keywords are specific words or phrases that reflect your experiences and abilities, and are frequently buzzwords, or terms-of-art. You are undoubtedly familiar with the keywords of your industry and your abilities. Make sure they appear prominently on your resume. Examples include “P & L” and “ROI” for commerce. Others include “pull-through strategies” for sales and marketing, or are specific to a particular industry (like a professional designation). Your resume must contain certain keywords to get the employer’s attention and communicate that you are qualified for a particular position. The importance of keywords on your resume cannot be overstated.

Keywords can include the following:

• Position title

• Industries

• Professional designation

• Skills, knowledge, core competencies

• Industry terms-of-art (and abbreviations)

• Employer names (past or present)

• Licenses, certifications

• Location (city, state)

• Software and technologies you’re familiar with

• Education (school names and degrees)

It can be impactful to connect a keyword to an accomplishment, whenever possible. For example, Client Retention—maintained a client retention rate of 94 percent for the last four years.

When pursuing a particular opening, use the word cloud technique to capture buzzwords used by that employer.

What the Pros Say:

The use of keywords is important on a resume. What would you consider are the more important kinds of information that lead to keywords?

If you want a resume that will pass resume scanning programs, attract the hiring manager’s attention, and get you interviews, you need to tailor the resume to the specific job you’re seeking. You need to closely read the job posting to find key words and phrases in order to match what the employer is seeking with what you’ve done.

Write your resume to highlight your accomplishments, then weave in some keywords from the job posting while staying honest. State your accomplishments and contributions in order to position yourself to interview effectively.

James Moore

Reading job postings and job descriptions will provide a wealth of information on the keywords to include in the resume. You can easily search online for information on job roles in all industries and is a great tool to research the types of jobs available.

Resume Formats

The three fundamental variations of resumes are: Chronological, Functional, and Showcase.

The Chronological format is the most traditionally used resume format. A job seeker’s experience in the work world is listed in reverse chronological order. This format emphasizes duties and responsibilities with accomplishments listed under each employer. Jobs, as well as managerial and other responsibilities, are grouped by title and company, with dates of employment. This is a common format frequently used by tenured professionals with consistent work experience in one field or position type.

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion regarding the use of a reverse Chronological resume?

It’s the best plan 99 percent of the time. It’s the easiest to read and the format that most hiring managers and recruiters expect to see.

James Moore

I always use a chronological format. A client’s most recent job and accomplishments usually carry the most weight to the reader.

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Your Resume Is A Marketing Tool

Studies have repeatedly shown that employers spend between five to twenty seconds when first looking at a resume. As a resume writer, how do you create a resume to capitalize on such a brief period of time?

First, it needs to be visually appealing and easy to read: plenty of white space, font size not too small or too large, font enhancements (bold, caps, color etc.). More to the point, the resume should immediately answer the following questions on every employer’s mind: Who are you? What do you do? What can you do for me?

This is accomplished by formatting the client’s name as the predominate bit of information on the resume, following this with a headline that identifies the client’s occupation/occupational focus, and then a branding statement that states what problems the client is best at solving.

James Moore

Putting the most compelling elements that substantiate a person’s qualifications for the targeted job in the top one-third of the resume will help to pass that initial five- to twenty-second first review. Using a headline, short bullets, list of keywords or brief paragraphs will help to keep the eye moving along this section and, because of that content, persuade the reader to read the entire document with the ultimate goal of having the job seeker called for an interview.

James Moore

Your Resume Is Your Marketing Brochure

Your resume is frequently the first formal presentation of your professional credentials to a hiring executive. Think of it as your marketing brochure. It must have an impressive appearance (easy on the eyes), be well formatted (layout of how and where information is presented), and have persuasive content. Take the time to write a resume that appears professional. In order for your resume to provide that positive first impression, make sure that it:

• Has a clean, professional appearance. Develop a document with plain, simple language. Also be sure that the use of font size, bold print, lines, headings, spacing, bullet points, and so on, is consistent throughout. Any graphics and shading must be readable. Your resume must have a “wow” factor.

• Has a title. This will announce the professional qualifications to follow in the body of the resume.

• Has branding words or a branding statement. Either of these will help present your value proposition.

• Contains accurate contact information. Be sure your contact information is up to date.

• Features a concise, professional summary. This should highlight your background and give information to support your professional value proposition.

• Lists core competencies or qualifications. Showcase your strongest skills, abilities, experience, education, and special knowledge.

• Lists achievements. State what separates you from the pack.

• Is written for easy reading. Keep paragraphs short and use subheadings to break apart information.

• Could include charts, graphs, and pictures. To create distinction and visual appeal, use charts and graphs to show your accomplishments. Pictures that align with your industry, if well used, can be unique and draw the attention of the reader. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

• Honestly represents your background. It is estimated that “more than 80 percent of resumes contain some stretch of the truth.” Be honest with your background and achievements. If an embellishment is discovered, you lose your integrity and credibility, and they will be extremely difficult to regain. Your employer won’t trust you. And if others find out you embellished, that will make it harder still on your reputation.

It is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, to write a generic form of your resume. You can modify it for specific opportunities that you pursue. Just remember what form of your resume you use with specific employers!

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What Is A Resume?

What Is a Resume?

Let’s start by defining what a resume is and is not. A resume is a unique form of written communication designed to quickly gain the attention of the hiring executive, inform them about you, sell you as a qualified candidate, and differentiate you from other job seekers. You have complete control of the appearance and content, and you should feel comfortable about how it represents you.

You are not writing an autobiography! Many job seekers put too much historical information into a resume. It’s easy to do. You start writing and remembering and all of a sudden you have a resume that is a blizzard of words. Hiring executives simply will not read resumes like that. It’s too much work. A resume must be informative, but it is really a marketing piece. It must be easy on the eyes and have adequate white space. The job market can be tough enough; don’t create a self-inflicted obstacle by having a poorly formatted and poorly written resume.

Occasionally, job seekers will use personal pronouns (“I”, “we”) in their resumes. Don’t do this. Although there are some differences of opinion by commentators, it is the prevailing view that a resume should not contain personal pronouns. Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?

When you write your resume, the rules of proper sentence structure and punctuation are relaxed. However, it is essential that you convey complete thoughts with good use of action verbs.

What the Pros Say:

As a resume writer, what is your definition of a resume?

A resume is a sales pitch, a marketing document, part of a strategic multimedia communication plan, and a brand messaging piece rolled into one that defines a person’s unique brand distinguishing it from competitors’ through a strategic combination of visual (format, color and word placement), verbal (keywords and power phrases) and emotional attributes (qualitative soft skills and quantitative successes).

James Moore

A resume is a marketing document that is targeted toward a specific audience and presents enough features and benefits to tell the reader that the candidate is a solution to a hiring problem. It is not an obituary of one’s career!

James Moore

Time Is of the Essence

Most hiring executives generally spend between five and twenty seconds when first looking at a resume. So, assume yours will not have much time to make an impression. If you’re perceived as valuable to the company, you’re in! If not, you’re out! An employer must be able to quickly determine your potential value.

How can you make the most of those precious seconds? Showcase your most impactful qualifications and accomplishments on the upper half of the first page of your resume. The title of your resume, branding words/phrases/statement, the first sentence of your summary, and the first bullet point or two of your first showcase section create the biggest impact. By then, time’s up! (More on showcase sections in a moment.) If these grab the interest of the employer, you get the next few seconds and perhaps more. This is another reason to use the word cloud technique—keywords and phrases will appear on your resume and “speak” to the hiring executive. Use this technique to capture any buzzwords that employer uses. Titling, branding, and a showcase resume have become important and popular for their ability to keep your resume in the executive’s hands even longer. Once you have created initial interest, then the hiring executive will generally look at your current/previous employer, your position/function, length of employment, and successes.

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Impactful Resumes

During a job search, having an impactful resume is imperative. It sells your abilities, accomplishments, professional abilities, and establishes the match between you and the open position. Properly written and creatively presented, it will differentiate you from other job seekers and create a positive mental impression of you in the mind of the HR recruiter or hiring executive.

Do Job Seekers Need a Resume AND a LinkedIn Profile?

With the worldwide acceptance of LinkedIn, many job seekers ask whether there is still a need for a traditional resume. Has the LinkedIn profile replaced it? The simple answer is no. You must still have a well-written resume in your job-search arsenal. A LinkedIn profile does not replace your need for a resume.

Some writers have pushed the notion that a LinkedIn profile has made the traditional resume obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understand that each serves separate and distinct roles in a job search.

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Purpose of a LinkedIn Profile. Discoverability and Confirmation of Information. Your LinkedIn profile is your ever-present online resume. It is your digital presence and footprint. When complete, optimized, and compelling, its function is to get you noticed and discovered by a hiring executive or recruiter. It also functions to confirm and supplement information about your professional background. However, it has limitations. A LinkedIn profile is a one-size-fits-all template. Although the content differs from person to person, the format remains the same. LinkedIn has features that allow for customization such as attaching media, links, Slideshare presentations, and so on. This can heighten the interest of a hiring executive or HR recruiter, if they should take the time to look at them. This is all good. But the purpose is to get you noticed and create interest; the resume has a different function.

The Tactical Uses of a Resume. A resume is a completely customizable document. It can, and should be, tailored to specific positions and for particular companies. It allows you to present yourself in a creative way apart from the format limitations of a LinkedIn profile. You can create your resume to showcase your achievements, skills, knowledge, and competencies that appeals to one hiring executive offering one position. When done properly, a customized resume can be used more easily by the hiring executive as a guide for the interview. This is a tactical advantage. Your customized resume plays to your strengths because you designed the format and strategically placed the information to differentiate you from other job seekers. You should feel comfortable about how it represents you.

Resumes Still Required. Most employers, either by direct request of the hiring executive or through the HR department, still require job seekers to submit resumes, via online applications or by email, as a required and accepted business practice. If resumes are passé, why are they still a requirement in the application and interview process? The truth is they are not passé. This is not to say that there could be pockets in some industries that are moving away from using resumes. However, for the majority of industries, and for most positions within those industries, the need for a well-written resume lives on.

What the Pros Say:

Do you still need a resume if you have a LinkedIn profile?

The resume is not dead and never will be. When LinkedIn first became relevant in the job market, employers would receive a resume and then seek to verify and clarify details by going to LinkedIn as part of the vetting process. Things have shifted somewhat. This still happens, but more frequently now we find the employer seeking out candidates using LinkedIn first. So, the employer’s first introduction to the candidate is their LinkedIn profile. If they like what they see they will contact the candidate and ask to see a resume before inviting them for an interview. The order has changed, but both are still highly essential.

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