Past Issues

November 12, 2007

Best Ways to Improve Your Resume

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Best Ways to Improve Your Resume

By Robin Ryan, America's Top Career Coach

Does your resume stand out? Will employers quickly see you are the one to do the job? Your resume has less than 15 seconds to capture an employer's attention according to our national survey of 600 hiring managers published in the book, Winning Resumes. You must also incorporate effective keywords or the electronic search tools will never put you on the hiring manager's screen. To learn how you compare to other candidates, take our Resume Assessment Quiz. Resume writing is a critical skill to advancing your career so here are some of the top survey results to follow.

1. EMPHASIZE RESULTS! This was #1 with all surveyed employers. Accomplishments get attention, not just job descriptions. State the action you performed and then note the achieved results. Include details about what you increased or decreased. Use numbers to reflect, how much, how many, and percentage of gain or reduction. Stress money earned or time savings. For example: Managed the project implementing a new tracking system that resulted in a 17% decrease in cost overruns, saving $200,000.

2. SPECIFICS SELL. Vague, general resumes don't cut it, employers say. Target each resume to the job sought. Incorporate only the information pertinent to doing that specific job title in the resume. This will alleviate the tendency to crowd your resume with too much non-related information, or too much detail on jobs more than ten years in your past. Start each sentence with a descriptive action verb such as directed, organized, established, created, planned, etc. as they add powerful impact to your sentences.

3. DO NOT LIE! A USA TODAY survey of executives stated that over 50% tried to exaggerate their skills, which was almost always uncovered during interviews and reference checks. Lying resulted in candidates not getting the job, or worse, being fired once the fraud was revealed. Employers are on the lookout for this misrepresentation so be as positive as possible without exaggerating or misstating the truth.

4. BIG MISTAKES MUST BE AVOIDED. The TOP mistake annoying every manager and HR person in our survey was spelling mistakes and typos. Many said: "I stop reading when I find spelling mistakes." Typos scream: "Don't hire me." Proofread -- you cannot trust computer spell checkers. Cramming too much into a resume and using microscopic fonts can result in your resume never being read. Make your resume visually appealing on paper with fonts sizes in 11 or 12 points. Use concise sentences and adequate white space between points. Many online resume-posting programs incorrectly read boxes and graphic designs causing unintentional page breaks, so be sure to avoid using these. Also, many home computers use a mini-word processing program called WORKS, which is not compatible and can't be read by many employers' business computers that use MS WORD. Be certain you only use WORD in any communications you send on to employers.

5. THE FINAL TEST -- IS YOUR RESUME GETTING RESULTS? Are employers calling on appropriate jobs you are qualified for (not over or under) to perform? If not, rework your resume, or get professional help to improve it, since a great resume is the prelude to landing a terrific job.

Robin Ryan has appeared on Oprah and Dr. Phil and is considered to be America's top career coach. Robin has a busy career counseling practice providing individual career coaching, resume writing services, interview preparation, salary negotiations, and outplacement to clients nationwide.

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