WRITING A RESUME THAT SELLS
Five Steps to Writing a Resume That Gets Results Every Time
Resumes that get results have one thing in common – they answer the employer’s key question: what’s in it for me?
When writing a resume, think about the manager who opens your email and starts to read your resume. In all likelihood, she is overworked and understaffed. She’s probably working to tight deadlines and she desperately wants to hire that extra person to make her life easier. So when she looks at your resume, she wants to know one thing: how you will make her life easier? Yet 95% of the resumes she receives won’t answer that question.
So, as you're writing your resume, be sure to quickly and clearly convey your value. If you do that, your resume will generate interviews. It really is that simple. To check how well you’re doing, rate your resume against the following five criteria.
1. Does your resume have a clear focus?
If you have more than one type of experience (say retail management and human resources administration) don’t write one resume for all situations. Instead, write two resumes – one that shows your abilities as a store manager and one that conveys your HR expertise.
2. Do you start with a value-oriented summary?
Don’t begin your resume with an objective statement that describes your desires and career goals. Instead create a powerful summary that shows how you will add value to potential employers.
The key is to demonstrate to the reader that there is a clear fit between your skills and their needs. (If you don’t know what skills are important for your target positions, you need to do some research before writing a resume. Look at job descriptions and at job postings for similar positions and make a note of the common requirements.)
(If you need help with developing a value-oriented summary, or anything else in this article, sign up for my free resume writing course now. You'll get instant access and we'll never spam you or share your email address)
3. Do you stress your achievements?
When writing a resume, you must present evidence that you add value. Too many resumes focus on job responsibilities, but describing achievements shows the impact you actually made.
Achievements are a powerful way to show your ability to make a difference. If you outline how you have made improvements, solved problems, generated revenue, saved money or done innovative work in the past, people will want to meet you.
4. Do you quantify your accomplishments?
Try to convey your experience to someone who doesn’t know anything about you. Quantifying your achievements helps readers understand your background.
For example, an administrative assistant may write that she: “centralized the purchasing of office supplies, saving $50,000 per year.”
A sales manager might emphasize having “increased hardware sales by 35% within 6 months.”
5. Do you provide context?
In order to really appreciate your achievements, the reader needs context. By being specific, you can help him understand the value of hiring you. An easy way to include this information is to describe each position you have held and include information about the situation in which you found yourself.
For example, notice how the following job description provides context and allows the reader to imagine how this assistant might contribute in any office setting:
XYZ ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON DC
Recruited to organize busy office of Washington non-profit organization. Established office procedures, organized 10 volunteers and implemented filing and storage systems to gain control of three-year backlog of disorganized information.
- Cleared 226 cartons of policy statements, memos and briefings within 3 months.
When writing a resume, remember that you must present a vivid picture for potential employers.
If your resume has a clear focus, starts with a powerful summary, expresses and quantifies accomplishments and provides context, your value will be clear to potential employers and they won’t have to ask: what’s in it for me?
To get more tips like these, and learn how to completely transform your resume, sign up for my free resume writing course. We promise never to send sales spam.
Louise Fletcher is the President of Blue Sky Resumes and Managing Editor and Co-founder of the preeminent careers blog, Career Hub. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and many of her resumes have been published in the JIST "Expert Resumes" series. She has contributed to many online publications including About.com, Monster.com, The Ladders, and Net Temps.