Resumes Prose and Cons

Your most important tool in procuring employment is your resume;  it is your sell sheet, your promotion brochure, your foot in the door.  Your resume is what gets the attention of potential employers and the invitation for an interview.  With a positive and effective follow-up interview, who knows – you might even get the job.

There are differing opinions on the best format for a  successful resume, but what is not debatable is that a resume needs to be succinct, focused and flexible.  Succinct in the sense that no prospective employer will ever take the time to read more than 2 or 3 pages at the most.  Focused – meaning that your expertise and capabilities need to address the needs of the particular employment opportunity.  Flexible – addresses the need to never have just one resume; you need to provide the right document for the appropriate potential employer which entails customizing your standard resume to fit the demands of every particular and unique job .

The following are some pointers that every resume writer should keep in mind when developing his/her “sell sheet”:

Don’t be wordy.  2 or 3 pages are the right length for a resume but don’t compensate by using a smaller font or eliminating white space.  12 point font is appropriate and like any document, white space is just as important as what is actually written.  White space breaks up the monotony of the page and gives emphasis to selected, important elements.

* Use the format appropriately.   Newspapers used to use the phrase “above the crease” to give emphasis to what is really important.  Your resume should also keep in mind that all important information should be in the upper one-third of the first page of your resume.  Prioritize what is important in your story and put it first, just in case the reader looses interest early on.

Use action verbs.  Like any author you need to make your resume interesting and that can be accomplished by providing some interesting words.  How about Commanded rather than Led or Created rather than Wrote;  creative and impactful words can certainly make a mundane document worth reading. 

Be accurate and never lie or over-embellish.  I never understand why job candidates try to lie in their resumes.  It is so easy these days to track you down and find your whole story.  The days of having that Harvard Business degree when in reality you visited Cambridge one summer and bought a t shirt at the Coop just won’t work anymore.

Use bullets and not lengthy paragraphs.  Again, future employers see dozens if not hundreds of resumes and they just don’t have the time to read your spectacular prose.  Emphasize your abilities by highlighting them in bullet points.

Watch the jargon and acronyms.  Be precise and don’t assume that potential employers are going to know what you are intending.  Society is obsessed with acronyms, especially in government and association work.  Use the full name or term and if you feel obligated to use the acronym – put it in “quotations” or (parentheses).

*  Emphasize with Numbers.  If you want to make an impressive impact use numbers and never spell the results out.  16% increase has much greater impact than sixteen per cent increase.  Besides breaking up the prose, numbers also save you that all-important space on your resume.

*  Impact with Results.  A successful resume presents results and not responsibilities.  Instead of talking about having 8 direct reports or managing 17 offices, how about mentioning that through strategic and operational teamwork you were able to save the organization $$$ over the last year.  Potential employers want to know what you can bring to the table the first day.

This is not an Autobiography.  When you are just out of college you need to fill the pages with stuff but if you have been in the job market for awhile that high school job at McDonald’s just isn’t important anymore – unless you are applying for something in foodservice.  Only present the most appropriate employment experiences and eliminate the fluff.

*  Include your LinkedIn Profile.  When you are providing all of your important particulars as a header of the resume don’t forget to include your LinkdedIn Profile address, your blog address (if appropriate) and your web address.  It can provide more detail if the recruiter has additional interest.  Of course this is also the time to make sure that your Facebook page is clean of all items you don’t want the rest of the world to see.  Matter of fact, set the privacy settings so they can’t access your Facebook page.

*  Make no errors.  It is important to proof read the document more than once and it probably would do you good to have someone else also look at it prior to sending it to a potential employer.  Don’t be satisfied with spell check.  Though we all make mistakes and punctuation and typos seem to be of less importance in today’s digital world, this is not the time to be sloppy – check and then check again.

Your resume and cover letter are tools to get you that all-important interview.  It is the interview that will get you employed.  It is imperative that you remember the significance of the resume and why it should always be used to get your foot in the door.  Be creative and market-driven but never, never be excessive (one never would have worked just fine here – talk about piling on). 

 Your resume reflects to the world who you are.  Paint the best picture you can, but be truthful and not verbose;  just the reason why it is now time to end this posting.

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