WRITE YOUR OWN RESUME
THE CAREER PLAYBOOK GUIDE
4. WRITE A VALUES-BASED RESUME -
based on your values and beliefs - showcasing
how valuable your skills, talents and accomplishments
would be when applied to the right company with
the right job. Employers' most common complaint
is they cannot find good help. Consider how
pleased they will be to find someone who really
wants to do the work they need done.
Tips and advice on How To Write A Great Resume
Make your own resume more compelling -- by selling your
strengths to employers!
The goal of your resume is to make an employer want to
interview you. It's a powerful marketing tool
that promotes who you are, what you want to do, and the
value you will bring to an organization.
Your resume should be a results oriented, concise document
that summarizes your accomplishments for a particular position. To
be effective, it must target a specific job and grab the
reader's attention with strong selling points on why your
skills and background "fit" the position you are
seeking. Its main task is to secure an interview, not a
Resumes must perform their function quickly to escape the
The fate of your resume is often decided in as little as
5 to 12 seconds. Up to 95% of the hundreds of
resumes employers receive for a single job opening don't
survive the initial cut. They get rejected or
screened out to reduce the number down to a manageable level. The
smallest mistake - missing skills, careless spelling, disorganized
content, formatting errors - may be cause to disqualify
Most job seekers fail to demonstrate the value they will
contribute to an employer.
Potential employers are looking for people who have clear
ideas about themselves and what they do best. Employers
want to know: What value do you represent to me? What
specifically makes up this value? You need to
prove, with evidence, that you have provided value in the
past that is consistent with the value you will provide
your new employer in the future.
Employers look for compelling evidence that candidates
have the skills their vacancy or upcoming position requires. Employers
are most interested in finding out what you can do for them. To
ensure your resume is given the attention it deserves, you
must keep in mind the needs of the person who will be reading
Employers Need to Know
- You can do the job
- You have a positive work attitude
- You are interested in doing the work
- You are a good fit within the company's culture and
Your past and present work experiences will be crucial
to convincing the employer that you have what they need. The
emphasis should be placed on the skills you have acquired
that an employer would want.
While employers generally don't make a decision to hire
on the basis of a resume alone, they often use a poorly
prepared or presented resume as a basis to reject an applicant
without granting an interview.
Employers regard your resume and cover letter as your best
work and indicative of how you'll perform on the job in
terms of work ethic, attitude, and willingness to succeed. The
goal for job seekers then, is to prepare unique resume documents
that will distinguish them from the competition and make
an effective presentation of their value to an organization.
The 4 Keys to Resume Writing Success
- Packaging - The appearance, design and layout
- Performance - The compelling evidence matching your
skills to the opening
- Positioning - The organized flow of information
- Punch - The content must answer the question: Why should
we interview you?
Resume Writing Tips
A good resume is the one that is tailor-made to a specific
job or career field, one that fits your specific background,
your unique contributions and your personal and professional
As you begin to write your resume, work on the content
and composition, then decide on a format that highlights
your strengths and career goals. Expect to go
through several drafts in this process.
The language used to describe your background is also important.
Since space is limited, choose active, positive language
with short, direct, succinct phrases. Using terminology
familiar to employers indicates an understanding of the
field while also highlighting your abilities.
You must personalize your resume in order to present your
qualifications. This will convey your "uniqueness"
to an employer. Since your goal is to stimulate
a prospective employer's interest in you, you want your
resume to reflect your personality, your strengths, and
your skills. As an employer scans your resume
you want him or her to become interested in what you can
do for the organization.
What you choose to include in your resume should paint
a dynamic picture of yourself. It will often lead an interviewer's
questions, so be ready to talk about, expand on, and articulate
clearly, everything in your resume.
Bring your resume up-to-date by adding your most recent
position and accomplishments. Show how you identified
and solved problems, followed by the results you have achieved. Just
as important, revise your resume to include keywords so
that it can be scanned.
Don't string keywords together in a paragraph at the end
of your resume so every word that applies to your career
will be found. Rather, work keywords into the
body of your resume. Some resumes are still screened
first by people who won't understand why there is a paragraph
of seemingly unrelated words at the bottom of a page.
Resume Writing Guidelines
Emphasize what you can do for an employer. Be
specific. If you are going after more than one job opening,
customize your resume according to the needs of each position. Remember
to only include the experience that is relevant to the job.
You can start writing out an extensive rough draft of your
background, identifying your skills and abilities, experiences,
knowledge, and accomplishments. Don't worry about
the length of the first draft. Arrange all the information
about your background in logical groupings and select the
most pertinent information.
In most cases your final resume will be no more than two
pages. An effective resume must provide enough
information to compare your qualifications with the needs
of the job and be organized so that the employer can easily
read the most important information at a glance.
You should match your skills and experience to jobs that
require the talents you have. Don't limit yourself
to jobs you have previously held or for which your education
is suited. Assessment of your skills and interests
may provide you with additional opportunities that align
with your career goals.
The quickest way to catch the readers' eye and make them
want to hear more is to show that you can produce value. Your
most relevant skills, achievements, education and experience
illustrate this value.
A well presented, informative resume which demonstrates
to employers an applicant's potential value and abilities
in written communication is the most common and effective
means of securing an interview.
Maintain consistency throughout the resume. Content,
layout, and information vary; the manner in which they are
presented depends largely upon an individual's style and
personal preference. If you use abbreviations
in one section, use them throughout each section. If
you capitalize a job title, continue this format throughout
the document. Providing consistency throughout
a resume creates a neat appearance and enhances overall
Remember that employers use resumes in several ways to:
(1) eliminate unsuitable candidates; (2) match your qualifications
to their needs; (3) develop interview questions; (4) judge
your communication skills; (5) guide the interview process;
(6) remind them of you when hiring decisions are made; (7)
compare you to other candidates; and (8) justify their decision.
Using the above guidelines will help you write a resume
that will serve as a solid record of your career accomplishments
and goals. They will also give you the best chance
of getting through all the barriers and on to the next level
of your job search - meeting the hiring authorities.
Quick Tips for both Cover Letters and Resumes
Attention-grabbing cover letters and resumes have one thing
in common; they are written, organized, and produced to
quickly demonstrate how a job seeker's qualifications match
job requirements. Keep these tips in mind when
creating your documents.
- Keep it concise
- Make your words count
- Avoid large paragraphs
- Proofread thoroughly
- Adequate margins with lots of white space
- Neat, fresh, legible and error-free
- Clearly identified skills, achievements and interests
- Effective language and correct grammar
- Communicate a professional image
- Convincing, relevant and positive
How to Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a short introduction letter that accompanies
your resume and serves as a formal introduction of you to
potential employers. It will inform the employer
of your valuable skills and personal attributes that relate
to the job. The cover letter should persuade
the employer to read your resume. It is especially
important that a cover letter be included with every resume
you send to an employer.
Since your letter must be tailored for the needs of each
employer and each position, you should do your homework
to discover what is unique and special about the organization. Remember
that your letter needs to express interest and enthusiasm
for why you want to work for the firm.
- Convey genuine interest in the company and the position.
- Use highly descriptive and persuasive sentences to induce
a positive response from your reader.
- Focus on the employer's needs, and highlight 2-3 skills
that specifically fit the position.
- Generally, these letters should not be more than 3 to
4 paragraphs in length.
- Cover letters take time; give them the same attention
as your resume.
- NEVER address your letter to "Dear Sir or Madam",
"To Whom It May Concern", etc. This
is the same as the junk mail you receive that's labeled
"Resident", or "Occupant". Preferably,
it should be addressed to the hiring authority, or, at
the very least, the HR manager. Be sure to
include the person's correct title and business address.
- Avoid overusing the "I" word. Remember,
this is about the employer's needs, not yours.
- Be concise. Omit detailed descriptions of
unrelated jobs and do not rehash content from your resume.
- Be polite and professional. Thank the employer/hiring
manager for their time and consideration.
More on... Tips and advice on How To Write A
Your resume is a profile of your skills, job experience
and accomplishments. It is your opportunity to
emphasize your strengths, education and talents and to tell
the employer how you can help the company.
Employers and personnel managers are very busy and tend
to rapidly review resumes. Therefore, your resume
must quickly catch the reader's attention and make them
remember you. Writing a brief, to the point description
of your related strengths and experience can do this. Write
your resume to describe what you accomplished in prior positions,
and how your skills will meet or exceed the employer's needs.
Quantify your accomplishments. Rather than say
you are a top salesperson, be more specific: Show how you
added $300,000 to a former employer's bottom line. Or,
how you increased overall company sales by 20 percent. Or,
how you prevented the loss of a $2 million customer, or
reduced turnover by 15%.
The fonts, the layout, the well-organized content and even
the paper stock, all contribute to the way you are perceived
by the organization. The resume documents are
the first test you must pass in order to get hired for the
job and career you want.
Double and triple check your documents for any mistakes
and extraneous information that will detract from your professionalism
before you even have a chance to meet your potential new
When sending paper resumes and cover letters, choose a
good 24 lb. quality paper with a watermark, and with at
least 25% cotton fiber. Select a traditional
color, white or ivory are most appropriate. When
you are sending resumes that will be scanned, use plain
white 8.5" X 11" computer paper.
Visual Appearance of Your Resume
The visual appearance of a resume is almost as important
as its content. This piece of paper will be your
first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer. The
type style and organizational layout will convey an image
of your personality and professionalism. You
are competing with many others and the look of your resume
is a very important first impression. The combination
of great content and great design can secure the interview
- Use a standard typeface that is easy to read: Bookman,
Helvetica, New Century Schoolbook, Palatino, Times, Times
Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana.
- Use highlighted headlines in bold face type to make
the resume easy to follow.
- Allow sufficient white space and margins to make it
more appealing to read. Readability is extremely
important considering your resume is reviewed for only
a few seconds, by a person reading one resume after another
- Use bullet points and indents to set off accomplishments
or add emphasis.
- Electronic and Scanned resumes have a different set
of guidelines, however it is still important to create
a stunning resume you will mail or hand deliver to your
What resume format is best - Chronological, Functional
or a Combination?
There is no right or wrong format, as long as your resume
is concise, readable, and presents your qualifications in
the best possible light.
Reverse Chronological resumes work best for people who
have a strong, continuing work history with progressively
more responsible positions. Presents material
in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent
job and then working backwards. Highlights the
progress you've made in your jobs.
Functional resumes work best for entry level, career changes,
and those with gaps in their work history. Emphasizes
your skills and accomplishments by listing experiences by
major functional areas. Skills and accomplishment
oriented resumes may be more effective by showing the employer
what you can do for him or her based on education, training,
or prior experience and accomplishments.
Combination resumes combine the chronological and functional
formats to highlight selected jobs. A combination
of the two may be used to highlight your experience or accomplishments
gained from multiple jobs, or career changes.
Personal appeal to the employer -"Place yourself
in the employers position"
- What is this employer looking for?
- What would set a truly exceptional candidate apart from
a merely good one?
Research to find the answers to these questions. Ask
questions during an informational interview. Speak to other
employees at the company and gather info from the help wanted
ad/job posting to which you are responding.
Make it appeal to You
- Present the skills that you enjoy using
- Refrain from presenting skills you dislike and do not
want to use
- Describe accomplishments that make you feel proud because
this will increase your confidence level
- Provide a true picture of who you are and what you can
What YOU should NEVER include in your resume
- False information
- Marital status
- Number of children and their ages
- Hobbies or dangerous activities (unless job-related)
- Detailed description of non-relevant jobs
- Controversial information (i.e., political affiliation)
- Social Security number
- Anything Negative
How many years should your resume cover?
- Always remember, a resume is not a biography!
- Generally anything over 12 to 15 years is irrelevant
unless it was outstanding
- If you include something over 15 years, do not use a
Scannable and Keyword Resumes
Today's resumes have to be prepared in a fashion that is
electronically compatible. Your resume may be
scanned whether you sent it via regular mail or e-mail.
It is then added to a company's database where the employer
can search for candidates via keywords. For this
reason you should include as many appropriate keywords or
skill words in your resume as possible.
Keywords: nouns or short phrases that describe your knowledge,
skills, and achievements that are important in the position
for which you are applying.
It is in your best interest to utilize keywords throughout
your resume, but they are most important in the very beginning. Here
you construct your Value Statement and Supporting Qualifications. You
can determine keywords by reviewing:
- Job descriptions from previous positions you have held
- Techniques that you use
- The Dictionary of Occupational Titles
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Industry/Professional and Technical organizations
- Professional/Technical acronyms i.e., HTML (HyperText
- Buzzwords specific to a profession or industry
- Job postings or classified advertisements
- Local government job service agencies
- Recruiters job descriptions
- Associates who work in the same field
Make a list of keywords and then write synonyms for them
- this will broaden your chance for selection.
Additionally, you need to know a scanner reads a page like
you do, from left to right, so don't have columns or lines. Scanners
also have trouble with serif fonts and any gradation or
shading, so it's best to avoid these as well.
Use a standard typeface such as Courier, Arial, or Times
with a point size of 10-14. Use only capital
letters or boldface to emphasize important information. Do
not use italics, underlining, boxes, or graphics.
Obviously, when you remove all the formatting it makes
your resume look plain. However, after e-mailing
your resume, you can immediately follow up by mailing a
distinctive paper resume to the hiring authority. Please
note: Before you e-mail your resume, look at your e-mail
address. If you've chosen a name that's other
than professional, maybe it's time to select a new e-mail
address which may be more appropriate for your career search.
The Internet offers many opportunities to "post"
your resume. Typically you will submit a scannable
resume or complete a resume format found on a web site.
Your resume may then be found through a search mechanism
and reviewed by a large number of potential employers. If
you are currently employed, or wish to remain anonymous,
you may want to consider a confidential job posting to protect