Resume Writing for Success

Dynamic communications skills are one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to develop three basic, but critically important skills: 1) Conversation; 2) Writing; and 3) Presenting.

Sadly, today’s economy created a situation in which a lot of people are writing resumes.  The other day, I came across some tips for resume writing from Jeremy Hill and Matt Colarusso of Sapphire Technologies a Randstad company.

Take a look…

  • Showing an unbalanced mix of specialized skills versus knowledge of other skills – too many people put a disproportionate amount of emphasis on a specialization versus listing a complete range of abilities. This can too narrowly define you and thus limit your opportunities.
  • One size fits all mentality – Some job seekers tend to submit the same resume for all the jobs they apply to which is a big no-no. While a job seeker should never stretch or falsely list his skills or abilities, he should create a custom resume for each job he is applying. The resume should highlight those skills that apply most to that particular job opportunity. What you think are the most important aspects of your experience may not be what the manager is looking for; don't miss the opportunity to present your "best fit" resume!  Look for ways to explain your skills in similar examples to what the job description states the manager is looking for.
  • Listing outdated technical skills – Job Seekers who work in the IT or other industries that are fast paced and constantly changing, should refrain from listing technologies or capabilities on tools that are no longer used or dated. Listing them only makes you as a candidate look less relevant.
  • Not including enough detail – Updating a resume should be an ongoing thing. A resume is your calling card and thus should be updated whenever a new skill is learned or a new milestone is reached. A short and concise detailed description of your achievements will help sell you as the best possible candidate for the job. Don't assume that a "skill listing" explains your experience with different skills/technologies – make sure you illustrate how you applied these skills in each applicable job.  And don't assume that the hiring manager will be able to tell where, how, or when you used these skills.  Be specific!
  • Don't forget to use your resume as a self-branding tool – A resume is more than just a document, it is a reflection of you as a candidate and therefore should be viewed as a self-branding tool. Make your resume stand out and when you get that interview, be sure to sell yourself at every opportunity.
  • Not knowing your own capabilities – If you are not a project manager, do not list project manager skills. Make sure your resume is reflective of your capabilities because I promise you, they will be called into question. 
  • "Little white lies" -  In today's day and age, employment verifications and skills testing/quizzing are becoming more and more prevalent.  Even a month's difference in what your resume says and what an employment verification shows can paint a bad picture to a potential employer.  Make sure that your resume is accurate!  They can quiz you on whatever skills you put on your resume, so don't embellish.
  • Basic formatting and legibility – Don't necessarily think that "less is more." Paying attention to a quick evaluation of "Is this easy to read?" is very important.  Make sure that spacing and font types/sizes are even and clean, and use bullet points instead of lengthy prose.  Make sure that the styling is consistent (bold headings and underlined job titles, for example…but don't get them mixed up) and that the timeline flows chronologically (months and years, not just years).  Margins and Header/Footer space should be consistent and accentuate the flow of the resume (flexibility from a 1/2 inch to 1 inch on each side, not much more or less), and it can help to pay attention to whether a line or paragraph flows well to the edge or bottom of a page.

I like what Jeremy and Matt have to say.  I especially like their second point – “avoid a one size fits all mentality.”  They urge you to create a custom resume for each job for which you are applying.  I agree 100%.  It’s easy to do this in today’s cut and paste world. 

I tell my coaching clients that they should develop a Word document that is a repository of their skills and experiences.  This repository should be a series of paragraphs that can be edited and cut and paste into a resume that best shows how their specific skills and experience make them the best candidate for the specific position for which they are applying. 

Many people are too lazy to do this.  Successful job seekers report that the little bit of time they spend crafting custom resumes results in a number of interviews – which result in more than one offer.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators – in conversation, writing and presentations.  Resume writing is a communication skill that has become increasingly important in today’s tough economic times.  Jeremy Hill and Matt Colarusso’ common sense ideas for writing a strong resume are a great starting point.  Here is a summary of their ideas.

• Present the full range of your skills.
• Create a unique resume specifically tailored to the job for which you are applying.
• List only skills that are current and up to date.
• Keep your resume updated.
• Use your resume to reinforce your personal brand.
• Be truthful.
• Make your resume easy to read.

That’s my take on resume writing for success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.  And thanks to Jeremy and Matt for their common sense tips on resume writing.


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