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A resume is more than just a list of past jobs; it’s a personal marketing tool and a critical document for securing interviews. Even with visual resumes and social networking becoming big parts of the job search process, resumes are still relied on heavily by recruiters and employers. Make sure yours is in tip-top shape with these ten tips.


1. Pull them in
Resumes are as much psychology as they are writing.  A bland resume that doesn’t immediately draw the reader in goes into the “no” pile quickly, so use a layout that’s visually pleasing and keywords that get attention. Chose keywords and phrases that fit what they’re looking for and highlight your abilities and accomplishments. 


2. Prove it
Don’t list responsibilities, list results. The best way to do this is by quantifying your work, which shows how you benefited previous employers in concrete terms. Did you increase revenue 30% in 6 months? Lead 50 staff in implementing a new software system in 30 days? Use numbers to paint the picture of you.


3. Simplify, but don’t omit
Keep your resume simple and to the point. If you can do it in one page, do. And never go beyond two pages. Remember, the goal of the resume is to get you interviews, not jobs. Put enough content in your resume to make them want to speak with you further, at which point you can elaborate at length.


4. Submit the right resume
While you don’t need an entirely different resume for each position you apply to, do spend a few minutes checking to see if your resume includes the keywords from the job description.  Also check to make sure your resume demonstrates how you can fulfill the critical tasks of the position. 


5. Use action language
Begin job description sentences and core competencies with action verbs.  These work to create energy and a sense of action in the reader, as they see you doing the work in real time in their minds.  Think “Optimizing teams to efficiently achieve benchmarks” rather than “Ability to optimize teams and achieve benchmarks.”


6. Doubel check you’re sspelling and grammar
If your resume contains misspelled words or grammar issues, you are almost guaranteed to not get an interview.  Don’t rely on spell check, either.  Print your resume and read it out loud.  If something doesn’t sound right to you, it won’t sound right to an HR manager, either.


7. Keep it current
Update your resume at least once every six months.  That way, when you really need a current resume it will be there.  At the very least keep a running list of trainings you attend, awards you received, special projects you work on, and major accomplishments you achieve.


8. Don’t waste space
Stating that “References Are Available Upon Request” is a waste of space., as is including an objective. Requesting references is a common practice, so potential employers know you’ll provide references if they ask for them. And your objective is clearly the job you’re applying for. Use that space for a strong core competencies section and professional headline instead.


9. Don’t get personal
Leave out personal information such as your age, sex, height, and hobbies.  And don’t include a picture of yourself.  The content should pertain to your experience and qualifications, period.


10. But do be thorough
If applicable, add sections for awards, recognitions, and community service.  This ensures they see that you’ve materially contributed to the success of past employers and/or the community.


After you’ve got these tactics in place, monitor your results.  Is your resume working?  Is it producing interviews?  Use LinkedIn to research your target companies, finding staff there who can let you know if your resume has passed muster or not. And don’t be afraid to seek the help of a career coach or professional resume writer; since your resume is a starting point for salary negotiations it’s definitely not the time to cut corners.

A resume is more than just a list of past jobs; it is your personal marketing tool. But how can you write a professional, compelling resume that looks every bit as good as you do when you show up for your interview?  For starters, follow these 10 Resume Writing tips!

Resume Writing Tips

1. Pull them in.
Use keywords that stand out and bring attention to your abilities and accomplishments.

2. Prove it.
Don’t list responsibilities. List results. Show how having you as an employee benefited your previous employers.

3. Simplify – but don’t omit.
Keep your resume simple and to the point, but don’t sacrifice content for length. The traditional wisdom is that a resume should only be one page long, but this is increasingly antiquated advice. While your resume may fit on one page, don’t be worried if you have to continue on a second page.

4. Submit the right resume.
If you are applying to five different positions, you should have five different versions of your resume. Each one should be tailored to show why you are the best candidate for that particular job.

5. Use appropriate language.
Never speak of yourself in the first person (i.e. “I closed 20 sales daily”). Instead use sentences like “Directed 20 direct mail campaigns.” And try to begin with an action verb such as Directed, Organized, Oversaw, Coordinated, Facilitated, etc.

6. Doubel check your sspelling.
If your resume contains misspelled words, you are almost guaranteed to not get an interview. Don’t rely on spell check, either. Print your resume and read it out loud. If something doesn’t sound right to you, it won’t sound right to an HR manager, either.

7. Keep it current.
Update your resume at least once every six months.

8. Don’t waste space.
Telling the reader that “References Are Available Upon Request” is a waste of space. They know you’ll provide references; it’s understood.

9. Don’t get too personal.
Leave out personal information such as your age, sex, height, etc. And don’t include a picture of yourself. The content should pertain to your experience and qualifications. Period.

10. Monitor your results.
Is your resume working? Is it producing interviews? If not, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.

In working with my resume writing clients, there are 5 questions I get asked often. Getting these five areas right can mean the difference between being called for an interview or not, so be sure to use these tips in your own job search.

When it comes to resume writing, how many pages should I have?

This is the most common resume writing question I get, and the easiest to answer.

Two pages, max.

Useful tip: Leave “References available upon request” off of your resume and gain at least two more lines. It’s now common knowledge that if they ask for references you will provide them.

How can I clearly convey the type of position I want?

The type of position you want is 100% your responsibility, not your potential employers’. To make sure you get the type of position you want, apply only to those openings that you think will challenge you, utilize your skills, and make you happy. Resume writing is not about simply stating what kind of job you are looking for.

Your resume is, however, the place to show the folks at the job you want just what you can do for them.  This is the point of resume writing, after all. An objective statement can’t do this, and I never include one in my clients’ resumes. What I do include, and what can convey your worth as a new hire, are the Career Summary and Core Competencies sections. These highlight a few of the functional areas you have had great success in and outline how you are different from other applicants.

Useful tip: Customize the Career Summary and Core Competencies sections for each job you apply for. The best way to do this is to create long versions of both that contain all of your pertinent information. Then edit each according to the posted job description to highlight how you are a great fit for the position.

What can I put in the header and footer?

It’s tempting to use the header and footer as places to put content like your name, phone number, and e-mail address. It saves space and frees up room on the page for job descriptions. Some people even put their Summary or Core Competencies statements in the header.

But it’s a bad idea, and here’s why: A lot of companies are using ATS (applicant tracking software) in the initial pass through the mountain of resumes they receive. Many of the ATS programs don’t read headers and footers, so whatever is in these areas is missed. Ouch!

Useful tip: When it comes to resume writing, don’t use the header at all, and only put “continued…” in the footer of the first page. That way nothing critical is missed. To free up more space on the page set your margins to 0.7” on all sides and use a sans-serif font, like Arial, in 10-point or 11-point.

Which e-mail address should I use on my resume?

You use your e-mail address all the time so don’t think about it anymore. But if you were reviewing applicants for a job at your firm and could choose between one with the e-mail address MichelleBanks@gmail.com or WorkSux@gmail.com, who would you call for the interview?

Using a neutral e-mail address in your job search is imperative. Since e-mail addresses are free and take just moments to set up, create a new one if you need to just to use during the resume writing process. Make sure it’s not only neutral, but easy to read, and add it to your resume in a way that makes it easy to understand. For example, georgegershwin@hotmail.com is a bit hard to make out at first glance; GeorgeGershwin@hotmail.com is very clear.

Useful tip: Create a new e-mail address that you use exclusively for your job search. Having an e-mail address dedicated to your job search will help you to track your activities more efficiently.

How can I get my entire work history into my resume?

The short answer is, you can’t. But that’s okay – because you don’t want to. Recruiters and hiring managers can only work with your relevant work history, or the skills that you possess that are relevant to today’s market. Normally that’s the last ten to 15 years, so focus on this time period in your resume. When you interview you can go back a bit further if the opportunity presents itself.

Useful tip: If you have experience that’s perfect for a job but not your most recent work use the functional resume format, rather than the chronological. While the chronological format starts with your most recent job and goes backwards in time, the functional format places your relevant experience first under the heading “Relevant Experience” and lists other experience as space permits.

Use the answers to these five common resume writing questions to make your resume stronger and more effective. And spend some time online getting up to speed on all the websites and online tools available to today’s job seekers. Good luck!

Are you job hunting or thinking about making a career change? Contact us for a fun chat about strategies and tips, or for a free evaluation of your current resume writing efforts.