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6. Preparing Your Resume

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SELL YOURSELF?

Now that you have a better idea, on paper, of who you are and what you have done, you can begin to prepare your resume. "What is a resume," you may ask yourself, "and what purpose does it serve?" There are differing opinions about what constitutes an effective resume. You have your own ideas about this subject. Let us suggest that you immediately set aside all of the advice you have been given about resumes in the past and open yourself up to some reliable, effective, and proven methods of constructing a resume. But first, let us define the resume, what it is, and what it does.

Your resume is an extremely important tool -- a personal advertising brochure -- that allows you to communicate with a number of audiences. Your resume cannot say everything you want to say or need to say about yourself and your accomplish-ments, but it can provide the reader with a significant "taste" of your skills and accomplishments. In a sense, your resume can be likened to a meal carefully prepared by a superb chef: It may not inform the reader of all the dishes you are capable of preparing; but if it is done well, the reader will say, "Wow, what a fantastic cook! I want to see what this person can do for me!"

The purpose of your resume is to entice the reader and create enough interest to secure an interview. If you feel that the resume is the most important ingredient in your job search, you are wrong. YOU are the most important ingredient and the most effective marketing tool, but your resume can get a "foot in the door".

Not only is a resume a tool in securing an interview, it is also an effective means by which you can organize your career history. A resume allows you to present the important events in your career clearly and concisely. It also lets you highlight the things you believe are most important about you.

Your resume is the personal advertising document you create. It will support your job marketing strategy in the following areas:

    1. All hiring officials will request a resume.

    2. Newspaper and trade journal advertisements will normally ask for a resume.

    3. Search firms and employment agencies will want to see your resume and it will become part of their files.

    4. Your personal contacts may distribute your resume to certain key people with a cover letter from them.

    5. Your resume will become a script to refer to when you interview.

Therefore, your resume should be a part of you it should sound like you. We want your resume to help you secure an interview, and we want the interviewer to know enough about you so that he or she can interview you properly. We want the interviewer to interview you effectively and attentively by using the "script" that you have prepared and with which you are familiar.

In a resume, you give facts about your background in an easy-to-read manner. You should avoid self-praise and valuative comments about yourself. Valuative comments by others, including comments by Consultants, psychologists, and references, are in poor taste. Most top executives in major companies who will be reading your resume regard overselling unfavorably. However, state factually and quantitatively (using numbers) your specific achievements such as sales increases, cost reductions, products developed, and awards won.

We are all writers. It comes with the territory. Some of us are better than others. But, when it comes time to sit down and write our own resume, most of us are not as good as we should be.

Tips On Writing A Good Resume

Your resume is a picture of you, but not your tombstone. Don't fall into the trap of listing your jobs, your schools and your awards as though you were writing your obituary. Take a marketing approach to your problem, and sell your product ... you.

First, who is your target audience? Is it the Human Resources person who will screen you for a job? Or, is it your future boss? Each of them has different needs, and demands a message for their eyes alone. How do you handle this writing assignment?

Unless they have asked you to come to them, the chances are that your resume must present a capsule form of you and your history in a very short space of a few sentences.

How long is a sound bite? 5 seconds?

You have about 5 seconds to grab the attention of the HR screener and force them to read past the first two sentences.

What does the HR person want to know? Do you fill the listed requirements of the Job Description? Every organization has, buried somewhere, job descriptions for every position. Maybe only the HR department has them, but they are somewhere. And, when an employer is trying to fill a spot, someone in HR pulls out that piece of paper and starts screening applicants against it.

On the other hand, what does the presumptive boss want to know? What have you done or what can you do to help solve his or her problems. The boss is less concerned about your fitting neatly into the square of the job description than fitting quietly into his organization and bringing answers to problems.

There, then, is your writing challenge. You have five seconds to grab the attention of two disparate audiences and convince one that you meet (but don't exceed too much) their requirements of education, training and experience, while convincing the other that you are the answer to the proverbial maiden's prayer...that knight on the white horse who brings the answers to problems.

How do you do this?

Let's start with the things to avoid. Dump the bells and whistles, the fancy graphics that our word processors can interject. No pointing fingers, no blatant type styles; use nothing that will slow down the reader. Remember...you have five seconds.

Despite the recommendations from a lot of books, pass up your objective. "What," you say, "no campaign objective?" Well, your objective is to get hired, but you can hardly say that. Unless your stated objective matches exactly what the HR screener is looking for, and does not cause the prospective boss to say that you are after his/her job, an objective can cause more harm than good.

Start with the summary. That is a word picture of the product...you...in three sentences. If you can write tightly enough, two sentences. But, no more than three.

After the summary, a few bulleted strengths. Here, you have to be honest. Are you really strong dealing with the media, or do you just wish you were? Are you a top-notch writer, or are you better at spotting the hidden story and leave the writing to others. Do you prefer talking to the internal audience, or to that great unwashed, The Public? Can you use your flair with figures to work closely with the financial community? Whatever, let me see what you think are your best points.

Now comes the tough part. You are past the magic five seconds; you have made the cut past the HR screener, you have given your product statement and told me how strong you are, now let's see your backup.

The next three inches of 10-point type are devoted to specific examples of what you have done, related to the position you are going for. Did your campaign increase response leads to your company for potential sales? By how much? Did media inquiries increase, or did they become less hostile, or did stories become more positive? Tell me, and have some documentation. If your goal was awareness, did the clippings indicate that someone was reading your clipsSRC="chkbox.gif"? Are your clips a lot of 2-graf things from Burrells, or did some writers grab your idea and run with it? These three inches are vital.

Now, list your jobs, from the most recent to the first, or ten years, whichever comes first. If there has been a lot of bouncing around, think of some way to make that positive and not give the picture of a job-hopper. The HR weenie looks at a lot of jobs in a short time and doesn't think "maybe they lost some accounts", they think "can't get along with fellow workers"...

Finally, and briefly, your education. Don't give all of your honors and associations; save them for conversation during an interview. The HR screener will want to make sure that you fit the square of "Education"...toss them that bone and get out.

All of this can be done in one page of 10-point.

RESUME CHECKLIST:

Be sure your resume includes or does the following:

Contains full name, address, and telephone number, including area code. An e-mail address should also be included if appropriate.

Does not use personal pronouns - i.e., "I", "we" or "they".

Summarizes your experience in a few opening statements not an objective. An objective is too limiting. A summary of experience will give a broad overview of the breadth and depth of your experience and background. The Summary of Experience section clarifies for you and your reader what you are "selling," what you are going to bring to the party. It does not indicate what you want from the company or life in general.

Accounts for all time from college, or the first job, to the present.

Lists the names and dates by year, not by month, of all employers, including your present employer.

Describes, in brief, each company or division where you worked, particularly the product line and number of employees at this location. If appropriate, also include sales volume, standing within industry, key markets served, and areas of technical excellence.

Defines the different positions you held with each employer, with dates, by year, not by month, for each position. Lists all functions and positions held. Indicates the title of your supervisor, plus numbers and types of people you supervised, including total personnel for which you were responsible. Describes both your own job function and how your job fits into the organizational structure.

MOST IMPORTANT! Describes quantitatively your actual accomplishments in each function (i.e., increased sales from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 in two (2) years, negotiated three (3) new union contracts without wage increases, etc.). Do not dilute your resume, however, with excessive descriptions of early jobs or experience irrelevant to your objectives. Remember, your most recent track record of accomplishments is your best predictor of future success!

Lists all degrees and the date the degree was obtained, names of colleges, and approximate class standing. Major extracurricular activities and positions of leadership should be mentioned. If no college degree, list highest academic level achieved. Professional Engineers and CPAs should include date and state of examination.

Include U.S. Citizenship, if appropriate.

KEEP IT BRIEF:

To keep your resume brief and to the point, check these items:

Do not list references or state that they will be furnished upon request. Prepare a list of three (3) references on a separate sheet of paper so that if you are requested to provide references you have it available.

Reference to race, religion, or national origin should be avoided.

Avoid irrelevancies such as name of spouse or children and excessive listing of short educational courses, title of published articles, etc.

Do not include salary history and do not date the resume.

Do not include reason for leaving previous positions/companies.

In your final editing, remember:

1. Rewrite your text as many times as necessary to have a fluid style. It is helpful to have a friend edit your resume to be sure your meaning is clear. However, the final draft should be your own.

2. Proofread for typing and spelling errors. Most resumes have several. Errors are most likely to occur in your name, address, telephone number, dates, numbers, and technical terms. Two (2) typewritten pages is the customary length - but if need be, feel free to go onto a third page.

3. Use a good quality 8" x 11" white bond paper and avoid unusual colors, binding, etc. More and more companies are scanning their incoming resumes into a database, and unusual colors, type faces, tec will tend to confuse the scanner. The underpaid/overworked clerk who is running the system does not have time to edit the input.

4. Staple the sheets together before you send them out. Use No. 10 business envelopes, and do not include a return address on the envelope.

5. Never forward an out-of-date or "patched up" resume.

6. Proof your name, telephone number, and zip code once again!

7. Resumes that use bullet points facilitate skimming and draws attention to your accomplishments. Additionally, write in the past tense with action verbs to demonstrate successful execution of your responsibilities.

8. If you fax your resume, always follow-up with a hard copy.

RESUME SENTENCE OPENERS

A bullet point is easy to skim and draws attention to your accomplishments. Resumes are written using past-tense, action verbs to show how well you executed your responsibilities.

All bullet points must use the past tense to be consistent throughout the resume, whether you are presently employed or unemployed. The following are sentence openers to be used with accomplishments.

Accomplished

Accelerated

Achieved

Approved

Conceived

Conducted

Completed

Consolidated

Created

Delivered

Developed

Demonstrated

Designed

Directed

Doubled

Eliminated

Established

Expanded

Generated

Increased

Implemented

Improved

Introduced

Launched

Maintained

Negotiated

Performed

Processed

Programmed

Proposed

Promoted

Purchased

Recommended

Redesigned

Reduced

Reorganized

Revised

Scheduled

Serviced

Simplified

Set Up

Sold

Solved

Started

Structured

Streamlined

Strengthened

Stressed

Stretched

Succeeded

Summarized

Superseded

Supervised

Terminated

Trained

Tracked

Traded

Transferred

Translated

Trimmed

Tripled

Turned

Traced

Uncovered

Unified

Unraveled

Utilized

Vacated

Waged

Widened

Won

Withdrew

Worked

Wrapped

Wrote

Good resumes use good, strong past-tense, action verbs!

Avoid weak words such as: Coordinated Involved Participated Administered

SOME SAMPLE RESUME PROFILES

PROFILE Eight years experience in Public Relations/Marketing/Sales with direct client contact throughout. Demonstrated expertise in budget management. Creative copywriter on a variety of corporate campaigns including print ads, direct mail, and collateral material. Proven ability to supervise production, promote new business development, and maintain excellent client relations with all levels of management.

PROFILE An experienced professional with particular expertise in Product and Business Development, Marketing and Sales. Additionally, has worked as a Creative Director on a variety of industrial, consumer and corporate campaigns including print ads, direct mail and collateral material. Demonstrated expertise in budget management.

PROFILE Experienced in program development in the arts; also a graphic designer, illustrator, and production artist. Adept at negotiation, persuasion, and promotion. Knowledge of fund raising, budget development, organization, and production. Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.

PROFILE Editor with production expertise and the ability to schedule and manage the activity of art, editorial and production staffs. Knowledgeable in all phases of production editing including consultation with authors and work assignments for in-house and free-lance staff members. Able to remain unruffled and maintain a steady, concentrated work flow despite tight scheduling and other pressures. Background in medical, scientific and foreign language books and periodicals.

PROFILE Comprehensive experience editing and publishing educational textbooks at elementary and secondary levels. Recruit, contract and motivate authors; direct, motivate and correlate work of editors and writers on multi-grade projects running concurrently., Initiate conceptual programs and designs. Demonstrated ability to solve problems, meet challenging goals and expedite production.

PROFILE Fifteen years experience in production of texts, magazines and multimedia instructional programs for leading publisher. Excellent understanding of components controlling manufacturing costs and generation of editorial revenues. Responsible for significant number of text publishing success stories.

PROFILE Astute interviewer and reporter capable of handling varied assignments. Experienced in editing and page makeup. Creative assessor of story ideas and material and able to visualize concepts for news value publicity. Knowledge of basic photography. Willing to accept and carry out travel assignments.

PROFILE Writer and editor with ability to simplify the complex, and solve publication and scheduling problems. Record of successful new publication introductions. Expertise in taxes, fringe benefits, pensions, personal finance, estate planning, insurance, and trusts.

PROFILE Technical writer with sophisticated medical and chemical laboratory experience. Talent for comprehensible and stimulating presentation of highly complex technical data. Doctorate in Chemistry and post-doctoral research at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Co-authored four articles in the field of bio-organic chemistry published by Journal of the American Chemistry Society and Photochemical Photobiology.

PROFILE Highly skilled in administration and operation of audio laboratory with special emphasis on techniques of voice identification and tape enhancement. Intimate knowledge of uses and adaptation of technical equipment to investigations. Practiced and effective lecturer. Creative designer of strategic training programs. Thorough researcher. Capable organizer and implementer of innovative systems and procedures.

PROFILE More than 15 years' experience in writing, publicity, public relations and media placement. Ten years with publishing houses. Creative designer of promotional concepts. Excellent coordinator of diverse groups working toward a single goal. Discerning interviewer and organizer of material and campaigns.

PROFILE Six years public relations experience in both private and public sectors. Excellent broadcast and print media placement record. Good writer and researcher with strong orientation to deadline and detail. Familiar with state-of-the-art technology in film, video, and multimedia. Particularly skilled in organizing and managing special events. Maintain consistent reputation for integrity with producers and editors.

PROFILE Award-winning writer/producer/director of televised programs, public service announcements and closed-circuit programs employing nationally known talent. Skilled at developing production budgets and hiring and directing creative staffs. Adept at designing program packages and software to fulfill specific client requirements.

PROFILE Skilled in all aspects of handling manuscripts: rewriting, copy editing and proofreading. Experienced in judging manuscripts and dealing with authors. Expert speller and grammarian.

PROFILE More than 12 years experience in graphic design for production of magazines, brochures, annual reports, conference displays, newsletters, book jackets, house organs, and other collateral units. Capable production strategist in selecting freelance talent, interfacing with vendors, editorial and public affairs departments, and overseeing production budgets. Knowledgeable of broadcast media advertising and public relations requirements. Discerning in adapting research to specific markets.

SUMMARY A successful sales/marketing executive -- thoroughly knowledgeable and experienced in the techniques of selling ideas, products, and programs, augmented by a sound customer relations capability.

SUMMARY A project coordinator with ten years experience of managing public relations, marketing and research projects. Excellent at organizing and prioritizing with meticulous attention to detail ensuring the completion of projects within deadlines. Inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn has given me flexibility and maturity.

SOME SAMPLE SKILLS WE HAVE

Advertising/Public Relations

  • Demonstrated expertise in budget management
  • Ability to supervise production
  • Strong at promoting new business development
  • Proficient with maintaining excellent client relations
  • Adept at negotiation, persuasion, and promotion
  • Knowledge of fund raising, budget development, organization, and production
  • Able to communicate well, both oral and written

Technical Writing

  • Experienced in working independently or as part of a team
  • Strong at writing clearly and concisely
  • Able to gather information from many sources and tie it all together

Production Editor

  • Knowledge in all phases of production editing including consultation with authors
  • Able to remain unruffled and maintain a steady work flow despite tight scheduling

Marketing/Corporate Communications

  • Skilled in writing Press Releases and generating free publicity and exposure
  • Experienced in Public Speaking, oral presentations, and overall communication
  • Highly knowledgeable about Media, including radio, television, and print
  • Expert in creative writing, proofreading, editing
  • Able to create marketing materials via desktop publishing
  • Strong at building strong, loyal client relationships
  • Capable of writing productive advertising copy
  • Proficient with generating new business/business proposals
  • Skilled in motivating with ability to identify and maximize talent of subordinates
  • Adept at market analysis and conceptualization
  • Strong at attention to detail ensuring the completion of projects within deadlines
  • Able to train and motivate for tough competition
  • Skilled in solving distribution network problems and related inventory control factors
  • Expert at establishing and maintaining excellent customer relations
  • Knowledgeable about account management from initial contact to impact on earnings
  • Expert in negotiating contracts and expediting shipping details
  • Highly knowledgeable about the "European" [add appropriate area] marketplace
  • Capable of securing new business in a highly competitive market environment
  • Able to cogently and authoritatively express ideas in writing or orally
  • Highly knowledgeable about conceptual and creative approach to sales/marketing
  • Expert at long and short range planning
  • Able to achieve substantial cost savings through innovative problem solving
  • Strong at motivating with definitive training experience
  • Broad assessment and observational experience
  • Able to successfully plan, implement and evaluate educational programs
  • Skilled in achieving results through innovative problem solving
  • Expert in planning Special Events and Conventions
  • Skilled in writing Newsletters, Manuals, and Corporate Communications
  • Able to write News Releases for maximum exposure
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