Writing a compelling resume, one that sets you apart and entices employers to contact you is not an easy task. One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is seeing their resumes as a record of their jobs not as a marketing tool.
This is a big mistake.
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Your resume should be designed to sell you (the product) to the employer (the buyer). Everything else is a waste of time.
Some of the hallmarks of do-it-yourself resumes are outdated style, incomplete information, glaring gaps, and exaggerating their experience. Here are five ways to revamp your resume.
Complete Contact Information
People have different communication styles. For every person who prefers email there is someone else who would rather pick up the phone. This is why it’s essential to have complete contact information which means an email address and phone number on your resume.
Make sure that your email address is something professional; preferably your name or a variation on your name. While talktosuzie@ may have been cute in college it will stand out to employers as being inappropriate, particularly if you’re applying for a management position. Also, if you’re still using an @aol email address you may be dating yourself. Upgrade to an @gmail.com account and save the AOL for friends and family.
If you’re concerned about including your phone number and you’re in the United States you can get a free number from Google Voice. You can have the number forwarded to your phone or phones when you’re available and set to voicemail when you’re not. As a bonus, you’ll receive emails each time someone leaves you a message.
Omit the Objective Statement
If you haven’t already, it’s time to replace the Objective Statement on your resume. Several years ago, Objective Statements were expected. Most read something like this: Seeking a challenging opportunity in a team-environment where I can use my skills and experience.
This is a problem for two reasons. First, it focuses on what the candidate wants instead of what the employer wants. Second, did you ever meet anyone who wasn’t seeking a challenging opportunity where he could use his skills and experience? Someone who was seeking a boring, job with cantankerous colleagues?
Instead craft a brief summary statement that conveys what you can do for the potential employer. This should be a few lines that provides an overview of what you have to offer. Further down, add accomplishments that support the claims made in your summary statement.
Be Careful with Bullets
It can be tempting to have bullet points for everything, or almost everything, on your resume. The hallmark of many do-it-yourself resumes is a list of positions (title, company, dates of employment) followed by a series of bullets outlining job duties.
Bullets, however, should be used for emphasis. A better way to describe your current and past positions is to include a brief overview or summary of the job followed by 3 to 5 bullets that highlight your achievements.
If you’re a manager, managing the staff is not an achievement unless there are extenuating circumstances. For instance, when you started the office was in chaos but you were able to turn things around. Generally speaking, accomplishments are things that you’ve done to help your employer make money, save time, increase morale, save money, etc.
Address the “Mommy Gap”
People have gaps on their resumes for many reasons. As with any gap addressing the “mommy gap” just takes a little thought and ingenuity. You’ve probably accomplished more than you think you have.
Start by making a list of everything you’ve been doing during the time you took off to care for your children. This includes pursuing a degree, taking courses to increase your skills, working part-time, volunteering, or helping out in the family business. These are just a few examples to get you thinking.
Write down anything you think might be of value, you can whittle the list down later. Once you have your list focus on things that would be of interest to a potential employer. For example, maybe you held a leadership role at the PTA or ran the annual church fundraiser or organized the neighborhood car pool. Activities that demonstrate leadership, organization, or relationship building skills are of value even if no one is paying you. Finally, try to incorporate some of what you’ve discovered into your resume. A combination functional/reverse chronological resume may work best for you.
When people think of lying on a resume they often think that means putting down that you graduated from college when you only completed two years. But, employers consider exaggerating your accomplishments as lying too according to a CareerBuilder survey.
So if you’ve been guilty of embellishing, that means inflating your title, duties, or level of responsibility, now is the time to stop. Discovering a lie on your resume will reflect badly and may keep you out of the running completely.
Writing a compelling, up-to-date, and easy-to-read resume isn’t easy. If it were everyone would have one. When working on your resume make it easy for recruiters to contact you, and always keep your focus on what you can do for a potential employer. If you do that you’ll stand out in a good way.
Annette Richmond, MA is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer and Executive Editor of career-intelligence.com. Having changed careers several times, including working as a writer, recruiter and vocational counselor, she has a unique perspective on career management. She contributes career-related articles to various other sites including TalentCulture, ForbesWoman and LinkedIn. For information on working with her visit her webpage.