Top Secrets of Expert Resumes

Expert Resumes It seems no matter how good we have it, we all want a better job.

That means keeping track of job listings, networking, tracking down leads, analyzing potential employers and scheduling interviews. But these depend on other people, word of mouth, and the quality and quantity of job postings available at any given time.

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Only your resume gives you total control over how you're perceived by potential employers. It doesn't have to be a passive job listing with subjective information on why you think you're a great and wonderful person (which of course you are).

You need a high-impact career marketing piece that takes full advantage of the paltry 10-60 seconds of attention most resumes receive.

Perhaps you don't think of you're a very good writer, and just don't like "writing about yourself." You're not alone: even published authors and top-flight executives who visit my office tell me they have trouble writing a decent resume. They also tell me, "My resume isn't perfect, but I'll explain myself in the interview."

However, you may be the perfect candidate for a position and still not get the interview, for no other reason than your resume. Resumes are typically used to exclude people from positions more often than include them; whoever is left in the "potential" stack gets called for an interview.

The bottom line? What employers want to know from each "person" sitting on their desk is: What can you do for me? How can you fill this job effectively? Why should I talk to you?


1. Use a profile to focus on keywords.

Pre-digest your information; boil it down to keywords related to essential skills and abilities. These can be as basic as sales, marketing, client relations, target marketing, project management, budget planning or forecasting.

Once you have these items, group similar words together and list your level of proficiency, for example:

  • Skilled in sales, marketing and new business development, including full responsibility for account acquisition and management.
  • Proficient in total project management, from technical staff training to product design, development and rollout in major national markets.
  • Comprehensive experience in finance, accounting and C-level audits, including strategic planning, team training, quality control and client relations.

This gives you total control over how you're perceived by employers. Without this section, you're basically a victim of your work experience and education, and what if your most recent experience isn't related to your current career goals?


2. Consistently market your skills and abilities.

Steer clear of fluff words such as "Self-motivated, hands-on professional with an excellent track record of ..." Let's face it. The first two items in this sentence could be said about almost anyone. As for your track record, let the employer decide if it's excellent by reading about your abilities (on top) and your duties and accomplishments (under the Employment section).

This can be the most difficult task on any resume, and it has to be written just right. If it's subjective or contains ideas that can't be verified through education or experience, then don't include it, or you'll lose your credibility. Consider getting advice from a certified professional resume writer who typically won't charge for a review.


3. A Title or Objective?

Think of a basic Title or Objective for the top of your resume.

This is typically very brief, just one or two words: SALES / MARKETING or ACCOUNTING / FINANCE, or something as simple as EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP. Give the reader some idea of where you're coming from, and generally where you want to go, without blocking yourself from consideration for other positions.


4. Employment and Education sections

Now your writing must consistently verify, support and quantify what you've stated in your Profile section. Help the reader actually see you at your last position by spelling out daily duties most relevant to your career goals. Quantify how many people you supervised or trained, explain types of clients you work(ed) with, computers utilized, and most important, results.

What are/were your achievements? Give facts and figures like budget amounts, how much you've saved the company over how long, awards, recognitions, etc.

Avoid the ubiquitous "References Available upon Request" at the bottom of your resume. If employers really want references, they'll ask you. Consider "CONFIDENTIAL RESUME" at the top of your resume, and/or stating this in your cover letter. Always respect the reader's intelligence!

Research the company's brochure, annual report and job advertisement, if any, and tailor your resume as much as possible to the position.


Final thoughts

Although personal networking is the best way to get a job, an excellent resume can open doors all by itself, and is still required in many networking situations. Of course, a brief cover letter should be targeted to the hiring authority whenever possible.

Tell employers what you know about their operation, and why you want to work specifically for his/her company. Make them feel like they're the only person getting your resume. Consider this: a resume that's only slightly more effective than the one you have now could help you get a job weeks, or even months faster than your old resume.

Resume writing is an art form in itself, and there are few hard and fast rules. You need a complete, professional job search strategy, and your resume must be a key part of that strategy. When you implement these ideas in the next update of your resume, you'll almost certainly get more interviews.

For your free resume analysis, send in confidence to Careers@Execareers.com.


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Filed under: Resume Tips

Steven Provenzano, CPRW / CEIP

Editor

Steven Provenzano is President of ECS: Executive Career Services, a former corporate recruiter and author of six career books, most recently Top Secret Executive Resumes. He has written more than 4000 resumes and will analyze your resume free of charge and provide feedback.

He has appeared on CNBC (four times), CNN/fn, WGN, ABC/NBC in Chicago, on numerous radio programs and in major newspapers such as the WSJ.

Steven is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/CPRW and Certified Employment Interview Professional/CEIP. His work is endorsed by Chicago Tribune Career Columnist Lindsey Novak, and top executives at such firms as Motorola, Inc.

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suelangx3

pfjw - yikes is right! But I think the "yikes" might be better addressed toward you. Your rant here seems to ignore many of the writing rules of which you seem to be such a proponent. You were repetitive, you didn’t check spelling or grammar, and your entry is so long I almost stopped reading about half-way into it. However, after muddling through it all, I found many valid points. I did disagree with one though, and strongly: your discussion on the cover letter.
You say that a cover letter should be three short sentences and should not mention the ad.
When I hire, the cover letter is the first thing I look at to get a feel for the applicant and three short sentences can’t give me any insight into the person. I’d toss a resume with that cover letter; why bother with a cover letter at all if it doesn’t tell me anything? Just send the resume and save the paper!
Furthermore, if you don’t tell me why you’re sending your resume, how do I know what to do with it? I don’t plan to read your resume in order to guess what job you might find interesting at my company. With no reference to a particular position, I’ll assume you sent your resume to every company in my industry hoping something would stick; this means you have no particular interest in me so I have no particular interest in you. Toss.
The exception to that would be if your cover letter states that you have a particular interest in working at my company and are sending your resume in the hope that there might currently be a position for which you are qualified. Only in that situation will I evaluate your resume for the purpose of determining what might be a good fit.
As Resortexec says, 20 reviewers, 20 different reviews.

May 10 2011 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mtnbi12121

so using waterboarding on Guantanamo detainees led to OBL? wel well well...now what mr president?

May 03 2011 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
hhdocswife

that's exactly THE problem. Hiring managers focus more on HOW someone wrote their credential on a piece of paper, rather than WHO the person is, their personality, likeability, and EXPERIENCE.

It's a game of who can amplify themselves more rather than just hiring a good person for the job.

May 03 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
RMS

Even the most well written resume is useless if there aren't any JOBS!!!!!! The only companies reading resumes now are the financial services companies trolling the internet for sales positions that pay commission only. Another AOL article written by someone who doesn't have a clue.

May 03 2011 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
resortexec

If I show my resume to 20 different so-called resume writting experts I'll get 20 different opinions.

May 03 2011 at 10:17 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
pfjw

YIKES!!

"Title"
"Profile"
"Objective"

What utter BS.

The only things this got right were the "keyword" focus and skills marketing.

A title or objective limits the applicant to those things - the HR person reading the resume will toss it if it does not _exactly_ align with the need. The wrong profile, title, goal or objective does exactly that. Why limit yourself?
Using a profile takes precious space from one's accomplishments.
The most basic rules of a resume are:

a) Write it TO EACH SPECIFIC JOB. A generic resume is no more than a template to be altered as-needed, or to be sent to an HR person after direct discussions. But if answering a post, ad or electronic posting, the resume should be written against the actual post itself.

a) Use action words: Created, initiated, installed, designed, built, and similar.
b) Show actual results as a direct consequence of your actions.
c) DO NOT simply state that you did your job - "Was responsible for...." Can be fatal if not connected to action words or highly positive results.
d) Listing hobbies can be useful if connected to the type of work. A technical hobby for a technical job, for instance.
e) Public service is _always_ useful. Especially something ongoing such as a being on a township board or similar.
f) If you are more than ten (10) years out from your degree, listing your GPA, honors or year of graduation is a waste of space. List the degree and institution only. What you have done in the intervening years is what is to the point.
g) Keep it to one(1) page but in a typeface that can be read by a normal human being without a maginifying glass. It can be done. Remember, you are using ACTION WORDS, not a list of 'stuff' you did'.

And then the really obvious: A scannable font with black ink on plain white standard-sized paper (8.5 x 11 in the US) and not folded so it will go through the scanner easily. If it jams the scanner, you are done right there. Obviously, no paper-clips or staples.

Keel your cover letter to three (short) sentences or less, use a couple of key words, DO NOT refer to the ad, source or specific job - the HR person knows what is open, and probably more is than you might know.

Scrub your grammar, syntax, spelling and layout. Thoroughly. Have someone else read it, out loud. If it sounds wrong, it is wrong.

Use a simple e-mail address. Luvsbooze@ or hightimes@ does not cut it.
Use a landline with voicemail - and make sure the message is 'straight'.

A resume is a propaganda document. As honest as the law allows but the bait on the hook, *NOT* the hook itself. That is you. Its sole and only purpose is to get you an interview. No more. So make it tasty, not dull, uninteresting or repetitive.

NOTE: The goal of an interview is to make the HR person think they will look good by hiring you. Give them a selfish reason to believe that and you are in very good shape.

May 03 2011 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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