Three Resume Secrets The Pros Use

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: July 8, 2008 - 3:48 PM

You don't write a resume every day. Not even every month or year, most likely. So you can't be expected to do it flawlessly every time, right? After all, you're not a professional.

 

You don't write a résumé every day. Not even every month or year, most likely. So you can't be expected to do it flawlessly every time, right? After all, you're not a professional.

Well, I am.

My team and I have written or edited nearly 5,000 resumes over the past nine years. And there are a handful of secrets we use to get the job done, and get our clients hired.

Now, for the first time, I'd like to share with you three of my proven methods for writing a resume that gets results. Fast.

Here they are ...

Focus on One Specific Job

I can't tell you how many times I've heard job seekers say, "I want a résumé I can use to apply for many jobs, like Project Manager, IT Manager and HR Manager, for example."

My response: You can't.

Writing a résumé that tries to be all things to all employers is like trying to ride a horse in all directions at once. You'll get nowhere fast.

Before writing one word of your résumé, it's essential that you first choose one job title or function, such as project management. Then aim your résumé in that direction. Every sentence in your résumé should try to convince employers that you are the person to hire for that one job.

But never more than one. Because you'll only end up confusing readers with a "one-size-fits-all" résumé. And a confused mind will always say no. Which can spell doom for your job search.

Use a "Skill Skeleton"

Once you tailor your résumé with one job in mind, try to focus further and come up with a short list of skills to build the entire document around. I refer to this as a "skill skeleton."

Let me explain.

You may be an awesome project manager, for example. But what are the three or four skills that make you so special? Is it your ability to finish projects early and under budget? Your skill at leading others? A knack for negotiating the lowest prices with vendors?

These areas of expertise make up your "skill skeleton." Try to make them a recurring theme throughout your résumé. Emphasize them again and again when describing your success stories on the job and in school.

Using a "skill skeleton" like this will force you to focus on a core message that's compelling and easy for employers to remember. And, of course, it should make the phone ring with job offers!

Be Truthful and Believable

You already know you must be 100 percent truthful in your résumé -- your GPA, actual degrees from actual schools, accurate dates, etc. That's basic stuff.

But it's not enough for YOU to believe what you're saying. The employer has to believe it, too. To encourage that, back up the claims in your resume any way you can, using specific numbers, dollars, percentages and dates.

Here are some wrong and right ways to make your résumé more believable ...

WRONG
"Many years of experience"

RIGHT
"Seven years of award-winning experience"

WRONG
"Saved time and money"

RIGHT
"Saved $437,450 and reduced cycle time by 23 days"

See the difference?

Specific facts and figures are more believable than generalizations. Always. Every time.

For best results, get written documentation for all of your claims, then bring these documents to the interview, where you can expand on points of interest in your résumé face-to-face with a hiring manager.

Now go out and make your own luck!

 


Kevin Donlin owns Minnesota based Guaranteed Résumé and writes a biweekly column providing job search and résumé writing advice. Reach him at the Guaranteed Résumé Web site: http://www.gresumes.com.
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