If you haven’t had to send out a resume in some years, you need to know that the rules have changed. A lot. Some things that used to be a must for every resume are today a huge no-no, and some things you wouldn’t have thought of putting on a resume in the past you will do well to include. Below are a few samples.
USE LOTS OF VERBS. “Pioneered comprehensive business start-up operations, with broad responsibility for coordinating targeted sales and marketing processes, recruiting and training multi-level personnel, directing cross-functional teams, managing departmental budgets, and implementing long-term strategic plans” sounds a lot more impressive than “Responsible for business start-up, including sales, marketing, staffing, budgeting, and strategic planning.” Verbs connote action, confidence, and control. Use them!
INCLUDE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Most employers these days are getting more resumes than they have time to review, and resumes that read like job descriptions – or worse, obituaries – are likely to have a short shelf life. Surely in the course of your work experience you have done some things that were above and beyond the job description; things that demonstrate a strong work ethic, good problem solving skills, or a willingness to go the extra mile. Include a bulleted list under your job description to highlight specific achievements: increased sales, saved money, streamlined processes, retained a key client who was thinking of defecting to the competition, upgraded systems, or set-up office operations. And be specific. Don’t just say “increased sales.” Say “Penetrated a new market with an aggressive cold calling campaign, generating 12 new industrial accounts and increasing sales by 40% within just six months.” As long as you’re not exaggerating, it’s okay to brag a little. Remember, if you don’t tell an employer what you have to offer, no one else will.
LEAVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION. Whether you’re married or single, how many children you have, or your date of birth has absolutely no place on a resume. Today employers are compelled to comply with anti-discrimination laws relating to a number of factors, including marital status and age. When you tip your hand on these issues, many employers will respond by simply dismissing your resume altogether rather than risk being accused of discrimination. In addition, in today’s world it’s generally viewed as unprofessional and completely outdated to include information of this nature on your resume. In short, it screams “Dinosaur!” Leave it off.
CHECK & RE-CHECK. Nearly all of the rules about resume writing have an exception except this one: a resume should have no grammatical or spelling errors. Make sure to read and re-read everything several times, use spell check, and have someone else review the finished document, as well, because it’s difficult to accurately proofread your own work. If you fear your grammar or spelling might not be up to snuff, ask for help from a trusted friend or do your own research. But whatever you do, proofread carefully!
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER TELL A LIE. You are under no obligation to tell an employer everything, nor does anyone want to read your entire history. But a lie will come back to haunt you, guaranteed.
~ Anne Follis, CPRW
© Copyright 2007, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.
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