Professionals in all fields are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. Experienced pros seek new jobs for various reasons, such as the need for new challenges, desire for career advancement or simply wanting a change of scenery and more money. Regardless, skilled workers need to understand the fundamentals of resume writing to ensure that their resume gets into the hands of the people who matter. The market is filled with job seekers and a perfect resume is crucial.
What a Resume Is, and What it Isn’t
The first step to writing a resume that gets results is understanding the whole point of a resume. A resume is not your life’s story. It isn’t a vanity piece where you summarize all the great jobs you’ve had and all the responsibilities you’ve been given along the way. A resume doesn’t look back, it looks forward.
What this means is your resume is a sales tool designed not to tell employers where you’ve been, but what you can do for them. This means you aren’t simply making a grocery list of everything you’ve ever done. Instead, you are listing actual accomplishments that display specifically what you can do for a company in accordance with their needs.
Listing Your Accomplishments
When writing their employment history, most job seekers list their title and then list their responsibilities. This is wrong because it is not results-oriented. All this type of resume tells anyone is that you filled a position.
Rather than regurgitate every responsibility you’ve ever been given, focus on duties where you achieved measurable results. For example, when seeking a copywriting job, don’t write “Restaurant Review Blogger.” Instead, write “produced popular content for restaurant review web site that increased site traffic 25%.” Quantifiable achievements always look better on a resume than bland, generic duties.
Tailoring Your Resume
Your resume is a selling tool, like a commercial. How many commercials have you seen that list a product’s features but not its benefits? Not many. Keep this in mind when writing your professional resume. You need to write a new resume for every opening, tailored to the specific needs of the job. Write a list of all past duties and accomplishments and compare it to the job opening advertisement. When writing your job history for the opening, list the areas where there are clear matches first. A resume written in this manner doesn’t say “here’s what I can do.” It says “here’s what I can do FOR YOU.” Which do you think has a better chance of getting an interview?
Proper Resume Layout
Your resume is going to be read by other busy professionals, so readability is a must. Just like they don’t have time to read and decipher a generic list of past duties, they also will not tolerate overwhelming chunks of text. Your resume needs to be broken into easy-to-read sections with plenty of white space. This kind of look is inviting and a lot easier to digest.
Also, when considering layout and the reader, remember that professionals probably won’t take the time to read your entire resume no matter how nice it looks. With this in mind, be sure to list the most pertinent information first. When writing your bullet lists of accomplishments, they had better start off with the ones you identified that correlate best with their needs. If they’re at the bottom, the reader might not get that far.
Always remember the point we made earlier. Your professional resume is an advertisement and the product is you, the perfect employee for the job. Keep your message neat, concise, targeted and results-driven and you might just make that sale.