At some point down the road, as I honed my skills in fine-tuning people's resumes with them, my cousin and I sat down together to work on her resume. She was a single mother then and had recently lost a husband and his considerable income; she needed to seek employment. She began describing her experience and I thoughtfully began to work some magic in turning what she had done into significant professional business descriptions. As I worked, she commented, "Oh I see. What you do for a living is b--- s---!" I continued working and without missing a beat, answered, "No! There's a very fine line between b--- s--- and what we're writing and we're NOT going to step over that line!"
So I came to love the work of crafting competitive and fine resumes for my clients. I came to appreciate the many levels of benefit a strong, well written resume could provide. I saw that resume writing incorporated my two top strengths: Wordsmithing and Counseling.
Since it’s always a good practice to keep your resume fine-tuned and up to date, I have decided to make resume writing the topic for this week’s blog. I encourage everyone to update your resume and/or create your latest bio. Even those readers who are retired or simply not working currently nor seeking employment, will benefit from making sure you have your updated profiles ready to give to those who ask you for these. Maybe you will be asked to speak before a group or participate on a panel on a topic you care about. Perhaps you will want to be a part of a task force. Maybe you will join an organization that asks you for your background. And even if you are someone who is happily ensconced in a job that you want to stay in, it is quite valuable to have an updated, highly marketable version of your resume ready for whatever unfolds.
I have decided to provide another TOP TEN list for this topic:
THE TOP TEN LIST FOR WRITING AN AMAZING RESUME
#10. A resume should be no more than TWO PAGES long - ever. Many people recommend a ONE-PAGE resume. If you use two pages for your resume, make sure to fill the second page so that it is at least 75% filled; otherwise condense to one page! If you use a two-page version of your resume, make sure your name and “Page 2” appear at the top of the second page. If the second page continues a section from the first page, create a heading or indication of what is being continued from first page. No matter what type of resume you’re writing, the first page must have a work chronology with dates included. It’s unnecessary and not recommended to include the months in the dates on a resume. Most students, younger less-experienced workers, and entry-level individuals usually would have a one-page resume.
#9. Remember the Three Cs of resume writing: Be CLEAR, CONSISTENT, and CONCISE.
#8. AVOID using HACKNEYED, weak, repetitive language such as “responsible for”, “served as”, “acted as”, “handled”, “assisted", “helped”, “performed”. Make sure the language on your resume feels authentic and comfortable for you. You must be prepared to discuss everything on your resume!
#7. When writing the work history sections of your resume, always start with the most recent experience and work backwards in REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.
#6. Use STRONG ACTION VERBS whenever possible to describe your experiences. Resumes require telegraphed language and should never have complete sentences on them. Avoid using “a”, “an” and “the” on your resume. Also avoid “I”, “me” and “my” on your resume. Resumes are actually written in the third person and are about a person rather than written in the first person where I talk about me.
#5. Whenever possible, demonstrate and illustrate your experience with ACTUAL EXAMPLES. Throughout your resume, make sure you have illustrated the strengths and focus you have laid out in the beginning/focus resume sections. De-emphasize or omit unimportant and irrelevant information.
#4. Make sure your career goal is about the VALUE you will ADD rather than about what you want to gain from your employer. Quantify and show actual RESULTS and SOLUTIONS whenever possible.
#3. Your resume must reflect FOCUS. It is okay to omit having an Objective to start your resume. It is not okay for your resume to be without focus. There are many ways to ensure that the focus is strong, including the use of opening sections like the following: Areas of Career Interest, Professional Expertise, Strengths, Selected Achievements, Industry Experience, etc.
#2. The average amount of time spent on the first reading of a resume is only 17 seconds! Make sure the key pieces of information on your resume POP off the page.
#1. A resume is a MARKETING document. Its goal is to demonstrate your key selling points and marketability as an employee and strong contributor to a work environment. Select everything you put on your resume with that in mind rather than include everything you have ever done.
There are many ways to write a strong resume. If you could find the top ten RESUME CONSULTANTS in the entire country to advise you on your resume, they would all tell you something slightly different and for sure, you would end up with ten different versions of your resume from working with each of them.
Once again, I have written about a topic that is not in “SPEAK EASY – The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success” available for purchase through Word Craft Press. Of course, having your resume updated goes hand in glove with Chapter 9 on networking featured in last week's blog posting as well as Chapter 10, WORKING IT AT WORK which may be a good topic for next week’s blog. Tune in to find out …