Too often, those who find themselves unemployed, or desperate to change jobs, will submit their resumes for any job they find available. It leaves HR professionals scratching their heads wondering how in the world Susie the Accountant might be qualified to work as a Quality Control Manager. Or why a former executive would be interested in becoming a Customer Service Supervisor. Don’t waste your time or theirs. The time may come when you would want to apply for a position you really want at that same company, and because you used the resume “buckshot approach” before, you won’t be considered.<br />Tip #1: Only Submit Your Resume for Jobs You Are Qualified for or That You Really Want!<br />
With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer's attention within a 5-second glance. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want. For example, compare the headings used in this “before” resume to the headings used in the “after” resume.<br />Before Resume: After Resume:Accounting / Recordkeeping Management of A/R and A/P AccountsAdministrative Computerized Accounting ApplicationsComputer Skills Departmental Administration / Recordkeeping<br />Tip #2: Use Titles or Headings That Match the Positions You Are Applying For<br />
Every applicant’s situation is unique, and therefore the format of your resume should reflect that. Those that have been in the workforce longer might want to do a skills synopsis section, followed by work history. Younger applicants might want to do the simple chronological work experience resume that includes job descriptions. The key is to make sure that the information pertinent to the job you’re seeking jumps out at the employer at first glance. They should not have to read every word of your resume to know whether your skills and experience meet the criteria of the job. Every hiring manager has a list of “requirements” and “preferences”. These are typically included in the job announcement. Make sure your resume addresses every requirement on the list. And if you don’t meet the requirements – remember tip #1 – and don’t apply!<br />Tip #3: Use Design That Grabs Attention<br />
Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive. Compare the before and after statements from the resume shown below: <br /> <br />Before Resume:Maintained records for accounts receivable and accounts payable accounts.<br />After Resume:Managed over 1,000 accounts receivable and payable accounts working directly with the Chief Financial Officer.<br />Tip #4: Create Content That Sells – After All, You Are Marketing a Product!<br />
Which ties in directly with tip #4 above. Using numbers to define and clarify your achievements can make a much greater impression. It paints a specific picture of what you have accomplished. Compare statements such as “I oversaw the quality control department” vs. “I managed the quality control team made up of 35 professionals”. They paint two very different pictures.<br />It is also important to use “power words” or verbs that match the level of the position you want. For a few examples:<br />Typical Verbs:Power Words:<br /> Supervised Managed<br /> Delegated Directed workflow<br /> Provided Training Implemented Staff Development<br /> Responsible for Customer Service Managed Customer Solutions<br />Tip #5: Quantify Achievements and Use Power Words<br />
Find the key words and phrases, in the ad for the job you are applying for. These are the “requirements” and “preferences” mentioned in Tip 3 above. Make sure that your resume reflects experience using like or similar key words or phrases you find in the ad. For example:<br />Advertisement for an Accounts Receivable ManagerSeeking experienced A/R Manager to oversee accounts, manage billing and collections, train accounting and clerical staff, develop status reports for management and prepare monthly balance sheets. B.A. Degree or A.A. Degree with minimum of 2 years experience required. <br />Key Word Skill Headings to Place in Your ResumeManagement of A/R AccountsBilling and CollectionsSupervision of Accounting and Administrative StaffBalance Sheet and Management Status Reports<br />Tip #6: Analyze the Advertisement or Job Description for Key Words or Requirements<br />
Address other “soft” skills that you know the position will require. There are three skill sets every employer is looking for in employees – <br />1) Content Skills<br /> 2) Functional Skills<br /> 3) Adaptive Skills. <br /> Your previous employment experience and education will provide them with information pertaining to your Content Skills. But be sure to address your Functional and Adaptive skills as well.<br />Functional Skills are what we commonly refer to as “people” skills. They include verbs like effectively leading, managing, developing, organizing, communicating.<br />Adaptive Skills refer to your personal traits such as being reliable, punctual, discreet, a team player, self-motivated.<br />Make sure that you address these in your cover letter and/or resume!<br />Tip #7: Identify and Solve the Employer's Hidden Needs<br />
This is where your Objective Statement comes into play. And yes – you should definitely include an objective statement. As you write your resume, keep in mind the level of job and salary you want. Be sure to create an image that presents you at the appropriate level. For example, language used in a resume for an $8 an hour position is much different than the language used for a $16 an hour position. Be specific, and remember that your objective is part of the overall package you are trying to sell. See the below examples:<br />Objective Statement #1: Seeking an entry level position in the accounting field.<br />Objective Statement #2: Seek an Accounting position utilizing my experience: · Managing a department and accounting for up to $250,000 in monthly claims.<br />Now which applicant do you think a) will be of most interest to the employer and b) will receive the higher salary offer??<br />Tip #8: Create an Image That Corresponds With the Salary Level You Are Seeking<br />
Don’t send a “canned” resume to every employer you are trying to reach. If you follow the tips above, you can see how important it is to address the specific requirements that the employer is looking for in the perfect applicant. While the basic content may remain the same, reorganizing, highlighting or rephrasing may be in order. And I cannot stress this enough – NEVER send your resume to multiple employers at once via email. You want an employer to think you are interested in only working for them – that their organization is where you want to be.<br />Also – reprioritize the content of your resume, based on importance, impressiveness and the needs of the hiring organization. For instance:<br />UnprioritizedMaintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance. Managed front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives.<br />PrioritizedManaged front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives. Maintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance.<br />Tip #9: Tweak and Customize Your Resume for Each Position You Submit it For<br />
If a job ad says “please fax or email” your resume, you must assume there is a reason for that request. Do not send the resume via mail instead. If they ask for it to be mailed, do not send it via email, etc. Every employer has a specific way that they screen resumes, and often, your seeming inability to follow simple directions may be the first step in the weeding out process and you won’t be considered for the job.<br />Also a few things to remember. Stationery is only important if you are mailing or hand-delivering your resume. And you should only arrive at a potential employer’s to hand-deliver your resume if you have made prior arrangements to do so. Surprise visits are not advisable.<br />If an employer uses an electronic application system – the formatting of your resume will not matter because it is usually lost in the upload process. But avoid using a resume that has a table or tabbed column format in these cases, as the information is almost always shuffled all over the page and illegible to the recipient downloading on the other end.<br />And if you are emailing, Microsoft Word is the most universal format – however, if you can convert it to a smaller .pdf file format, that is often the best way to go. When in doubt, send a brief email to the address provided, indicated your interest in the position and that you would like to inquire as to what file format they would prefer your resume to be sent in.<br />And finally a word on faxing. It is the absolute worst way to have to submit your information, but some companies still request it. When faxing, make sure you keep at least 1” margins on all four sides of your resume as many faxes cut off the outer edges of the paper during transmission. Also, use at least a 10 pt font for clarity, and indicate the number of pages that will be sent through. That way, the receiving party knows if there are any pages missing from your information.<br />Tip #10: Submit Your Resume in the Communication Format Requested<br />
In some cases, when a company only accepts electronic submissions through their own applicant tracking systems, a cover letter will not be possible. And for most entry level positions, they are really unnecessary. <br />But if you are seeking a professional position, and want to convey some of those personal traits we discussed on tip #6, the cover letter is a great place to do that. There is not always a convenient place in the resume itself to indicate that you are a team player or highly efficient and organized. <br />If there are things of concern that you feel should be addressed – i.e. large gaps in service, several jobs in a short period of time, you live in another city or state etc – the cover letter should definitely be used to explain them. It is also the appropriate place to mention the name of anyone who works for the company that has referred you and recommended you submit your resume.<br />Tip #11: Considering Cover Letters<br />
Where references are concerned, you should have three or four “professional” references, and should provide them at the interview, upon request. <br />Make sure that you have contacted every reference provided, and let them know you are seeking employment, and would greatly appreciate it if they would provide open, candid feedback about your professional experience, should they be contacted. <br />Do not provide the names of friends or family members as references. First, employers don’t consider them objective and therefore will not accept them. But secondly, it could give the impression that either you don’t have enough people in the professional world that would provide positive feedback about you, or you are trying to hide something.<br />Tip #12: References Are Critical<br />
There is always the question of “how long should my resume be?” And there is no simple answer to that. All I can say is that your resume should be as short as it can be, and still be able to make an impact. <br />If you have only had 2 or 3 jobs, a single page should suffice, but if you’ve had a 20 or 30 year career, you can’t possibly fit it all on one page. However, you might consider reformatting your resume to indicate quantified and descriptive skills and experience, and then just list the different job titles, employers and employment dates without providing individual job descriptions for each. But if you need two or three pages to build an effective resume, then by all means do so. If you don’t get any responses for awhile though, you might want to consider restructuring and shortening it some.<br />Your resume and cover letter should paint a very vivid picture of you as a person, you as an employee and your expectations for the future. Nothing about it should leave the potential employer “guessing” about you. <br />Most employers will screen out resumes into three groups – Yes, Maybe and No. Falling into the Yes category is your ultimate goal and you have the most potential for making that happen if you can demonstrate that you have all of the skills and abilities included in the employer’s “requirements” list.<br />Tip #13: The Big Debate – How Long Should Your Resume Be?<br />
There are great resources on the internet where you can research resumes and resume formats. You can even find samples in various formats. For instance, when putting these tips together for you, several pieces of information came from http://www.free-resume-tips.com/10tips.html. <br />There are also many resume writing services available out there. Typical fees will range from $500-$1500, depending on how in-depth your resume needs to be. I paid for a service in 2008 and paid $650, but really felt it was worth the critique, feedback and reformatting. Sometimes you just need someone else to objectively help you recreate yourself. So don’t be afraid to make that investment if you are considering it and are able. I received interview requests almost immediately and had a new job within a month.<br />But the very most important thing I would say to anyone, regarding your resume, is BE HONEST!! Do not inflate your abilities or lie about experience. It may initially land you a job, but your new employer will soon be able to tell that you oversold yourself. And you do not want to have to explain several lost jobs on your resume, to the next employer that you’re trying to impress!<br />Parting Thoughts<br />
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