Tuning up and Toning Up Your Resume
The Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared” also doubles as good advice for professionals when it comes to their resumes. Your job prospects can turn on a dime and having a tuned up resume at the ready can mean the difference between landing an interview and languishing. Although the Web has made longer resumes slightly more acceptable, most experts agree that a succinct one-page summation better serves job seekers.
Hiring managers and HR people make snap judgments and your presentation must be concise to keep their attention. “I want to see their skills and how they match what I’m looking for,” says Human Resources Representative Sandy DeHan. “I don’t want to wade through thousands of words to find out.” Here are some ways to trim down and tone up your resume so you will be ready for any opportunity.
Send a Telegram
When playwrights write monologues, they’re advised to pretend they are sending a telegram and paying for every word they write on the page. To keep your presentation concise, you should accept this challenge as well. Starting sentences with action verbs like “developed,” “coordinated” and “initiated” will help you stick to short, powerful phrases. Then include the results of your actions, tailored to meet the exact requirements of a position. For instance, “Developed strong relationships with executive decision makers at Fortune 500 companies” is aimed at a Senior sales position. It succinctly states what was accomplished and targets the position. The position you are applying for should dictate the language you choose to use. Appropriate verbs for a technical opening would be “engineered” and “operated,” as opposed to verbs like “appraise” and “allocated” that work better in the finance field.
Emphasize Recent Work Experience
Big achievements in recent positions are more likely to catch hiring managers’ eyes and stick in their minds. Taking the “what have you done for me lately” approach will help you curb the urge to include too much information from your distant past. Reverse chronological resumes are best for professionals with a clear career path that has followed a steady course. These are ideal for people who recently achieved special titles or worked on high-profile projects. If you are taking a functional approach that describes skills you’ve used in positions, it’s best to weight it to the requirements of the job. Currently, combinations of chronological and functional resumes are common because they incorporate the best of both worlds. The hybrid approach works well for professionals who have performed a diverse range of duties. If you choose this approach, resist the urge to include too much information and put the spotlight squarely on your relevant achievements as much as possible.
Stay On Target
Your career objective should be tailored specifically to a position and the rest of your resume should flow from your objective. “I can spot when resumes are meandering because people list skills irrelevant to the position,” says Hiring Manager Dennis Clawson. Continually refer back to the position you are applying for and your objective to keep your resume focused. Hopefully, you are a “hard worker” or you possess “good customer service skills,” but these are not phrases that get noticed on resumes. These descriptions have been overused and are taking up valuable real estate on your resume. Be specific about your skills and accomplishments and steer clear of the generic. “I see a lot of people using cliches to compensate for a lack of significant achievements,” says Clawson. When written in brief, sound byte type language, your accomplishments will speak for themselves.