Top Secrets Of Expert Resumes

expert resume secretsIt seems that 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.

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 to 60 seconds of attention most resumes receive.

Perhaps you don't think 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 machine shop management and operations, including staff training, procedure planning, safety training and team leadership.
  • Perform customer service and troubleshooting in a professional manner; coordinate vendors, suppliers and contractors; oversee contracts, pricing and inventories.
  • Proficient in total project management, from technical staff training to product design, development and rollout in major national markets.
  • Conduct C-level audits, as well as strategic planning, long/short-term planning, 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 phrases 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, the computers utilized, and most importantly, the results.

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

Avoid the ubiquitous "References Available Upon Request" at the bottom of your resume. If employers really want references, they'll ask. Consider putting "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 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.

Next: The Business Card Resume

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Great advice pfjw. You really have my creative juices flowing on how to clean up my resume! Thanks

November 05 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All people do with my resume is write notes all over it. They seem to careless about what is written on it.

September 27 2011 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Most companies don't want your resume. They usually have some generic application that they copied off the internet.

September 26 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Advice on resume writing is worthy information for those seeking work. I've written dozens of them in my lifetime but in all cases none of the resumes got me jobs. All the jobs I had were done through referrals from friends who knew of a company so and so with a position for someone qualified and the manager is a friend of my friend who would get me the introduction and etc. Nevertheless good resume writing skills are essential, but networking is the most important tool to use in getting that job you want.

September 26 2011 at 9:44 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

This is utter, complete, time-wasting hogwash - and will do far more harm than good if followed.
A few basic home-truths:

a) Objectives, profiles and any other non-specific (meaning not directly part of experience and given in context) will do more to exclude a candidate than qualify them. It may state what one can do and/or what one wants - but it therefore also *excludes* one from anything that is not that. Keep in mint that HR people are not looking for reasons to include, but to exclude.

b) The passive voice is deadly. Writing in the past tense is deadly. Writing just what you do is deadly. You want to give only what makes you different, better, more effective and more creative than anyone else. Make the HR person *know* that you will make them look good by calling you in for an inteview. And to that end "I did my duty" in so many words is absolutely fatal. May as well put on the blindfold and stand in front of the firing squad.

c) Resumes are scanned for key words and key phrases. For action words and initiative. Unless you include all of these you will not make the cut.

Cutting to the chase:

2002-2005: General Manager, XXXXXXXXXXXX, Ltd.: Full responsibility for the management of an XXX-acre walled residential community of 1000 expatriates, 500 Office Tenants and an International School of 600 (K-8), and 140 F/T staff. Reduced operating costs by 22% while increasing service levels by strategic outsourcing, increased skills training of staff and better use of physical plant. Eliminated sole-source contracting and purchasing practices resulting in higher quality goods and services at an overall 5% lower cost. Maintained occupancy levels in a difficult market due to scrupulous attention to security issues, resident needs and market requirements. Initiated major projects targeting specific markets that will increase revenues by 10%, but profits by 18%, based on pre-sold contracts. Installed real-time emergency broadcast system and an SMS-Text-Message system for entire compound. Created waste-recycling system (only community in the Kingdom) that generates revenue as well as reducing trash-hauling costs by 15%.

This is from my resume (one page) The things I do are part of the experience - not space-filler and wasteful eyewash. Each thing is something that is not humdrum "I did my job" blather. In 2005, I sent out five copies of that resume to well-researched targets - and got five interviews and two offers - and I had to dictate the interview terms as I was working elsewhere and had to concentrate them to my vacation times in the US.

What makes you better/more effective? What have you done to prove it? THAT must be the form and substance of your resume. It is a propaganda document (but as honest as the law allows) meant to get you an interview - no more. The rest is up to you. And _ANYTHING_ within that resume that does not get that is useless.

Last: Each job gets its own custom resume. One size does not fit all!

September 26 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pfjw's comment

Just saw this, thanks! Looks like we agree on about 95% of my article, the rest is assumptions and wrong perceptions on your part. The Profile is, in fact, made up of your best keywords, skills and abilties, not fluff or subjective ideas. I never use passive voice, but still see resumes with it. I don\'t recommend Objectives, just a 2-4 word title, either broad or specific based on what your seeking, and that should always be modified when possible to suit the particular position. Your job description is OK, but has some basic grammar and punctuation problems. It\'s all about how you did your job, yet you call such talk \'blather\'. Hmmm...
All are welcome to send their resume for a free review.
Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP
President, ECS: Executive Career Services & DTP, Inc.
Author: Top Secret Resumes & Cover Letters, the 2nd. Ebook for 2013, found at:
As seen in/on The WSJ, Chicago Tribune, CNBC, CNN, WGN, ABC/NBC/Fox News
Author\'s direct email:
Ofc: 630-289-6222

October 16 2013 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Sharon!

So what is the word???

September 26 2011 at 8:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Big Ol Ronnieboy

The word that came to my mind when I read the title of the article was 'desperate'.

September 26 2011 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

In most cases, you are judged by experience only, when it was, what it is, and how long you did it. Everything else matters much less. This culture is very bad for job shifters or people who would like to take another shot at a previous career.

You will get the "impressed with qualfications but looking for someone who more closely meets the requirements" cliched reply many times in an open job situation.

September 26 2011 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I just put STUDMUFFIN on the top of mine. Nuf' said.

September 26 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

To make a nice Resume is fine but in the end, it's nothing but a lottery. You could send 1000 resumes out every day for a year, and not get a call

September 26 2011 at 7:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tim's comment

True - but a badly written, poorly directed resume is usually the issue - not the individual behind it. Really.

September 26 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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