Resumes That Sell

Hundreds — if not thousands — of resume writing tips and suggestions are easily available on the internet or via books and articles. How do you sort through the maze of ideas?

Here’s one resume "must" to remember when you sit down to write yours: make sure your resume accurately positions you, reflecting the unique bundle of skills and experience you bring to the marketplace. When you do a good job of positioning the product (you!), the rest of your marketing (position search) will flow towards the right career move for you.

Resume positioning is an excellent tool for taking charge of your career.

What should my resume say?

Start with the basics. Place your name at the top, followed by your mailing address, phone numbers (home, cell, pager), email address, and web site, if you have one that relates to the position you desire.

Next, write your positioning statement. A good positioning statement is the flip side of a job objective, which tells the employer what you want, while the positioning statement summarizes what you offer to match the company’s needs. It also more quickly communicates your value, and you can adjust it to match each opportunity you apply for.

Now, present your qualifications, skills, and career highlights. If you’re a recent graduate, with little relevant work experience, it’s best to list your education first, including the school name, degree, major, graduation date, and any academic honors. Otherwise, begin with your work history.

Choose from one of several methods to organize this section, depending on your situation. If you possess a solid work history, use a reverse chronological format, starting with your most recent position.

If you have significant gaps between employers, or are changing careers, it’s usually best to use a functional format that focuses on your skills and experience over your work history.

Many resume writers find success by blending these two formats, highlighting specific skills first followed by a chronological work history.

If your background appears to be a close match to a particular position, it will be worth your time to create a targeted resume that specifically draws attention to your qualifications and work experience most suited to this organization’s needs.

Finally, include relevant volunteer experience, association memberships, military service, awards, and outside interests. Be careful to keep this section brief, and to only list items that will help the employer see you as a strong candidate. Never list age, gender, race, marital status, children, religious and political preferences, or hobbies and recognitions unrelated to your career. Leave out salary history.

References? It isn’t necessary to list them on your resume. Instead, you can simply say, "References provided upon request" and keep handy a separate sheet of names and contact information.

The bottom line? There are several content requirements for every resume, but you are free to choose from different formats and to customize your skill and experience sets for each potential employer. Take the time to view our sample resumes. Then, click on the Laso Resume Builder and find an easy, step-by-step method for creating your own resume that sells.

How should I send my resume?

If an employer requests a traditional, mail-in resume, by all means send one. Here are a few layout suggestions:

  • Use a clean, uncluttered layout, with only one or at the most two highly readable sans serif fonts.
  • Left justify, and "rag" right.
  • Avoid heavy use of capitalization, italics, underlining, or bold type.
  • Use a laser printer on good quality white or cream paper, one side of the page only.
  • Send an original, not a photocopy.

However, no one seeking to move on or up in a career should neglect understanding and using email or scannable resumes. Whether you send your resume by email to employers and Internet posting sites, or provide scannable pages, you need to know how to use the now commonplace applicant tracking software systems to your advantage. It’s today’s vital skill for taking charge of your career.

Keywords give resumes power

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software allows employers to use a computer, not a person, as the first reader of the often hundreds of resumes that pour in for a single posting, The OCR program extracts nouns and phrases — keywords — that relate specifically to qualifications for a particular position. Keywords can relate to education, work experience, software or hardware expertise, management and technical skills, industry jargon, trade associations, and more.

To make your resume a front runner — or even simply to keep it in the running — be sure to include either a keyword summary at the top, or build keywords into your positioning statement or professional summary along with a bulleted list of qualifications and skills.

To make keywords attractive to human readers as well as computers, write them into the context of your work history and accomplishments.

Make keywords specific (proficient in Oracle) and concrete (managed a team of software developers). To find appropriate keywords, study position postings and descriptions, review trade journals, and brainstorm lists from your own experience. Choose words that best reflect your unique capabilities and target the position you desire.

Easy email instructions for resumes

Once your resume is keyword-ready, you’ll want to prepare it as either a scannable version or a simple font Word document, or both. You can mail the scannable resume to employers who use OCR tracking systems, but today, more and more employers with electronic tracking prefer emailed over traditional or scannable paper resumes.

You can attach or paste into an email message the Word document for emailing responses to ads or posting on Internet career sites. Send your resume as a Word document if the job posting specifically requests an attachment, but otherwise paste it into an email message.

Remove any special formatting before you copy and paste, including italics, underlining, symbols, and graphics.

Send the message to yourself first to check for readability, then resend to the employer.

Take charge of your resume...take charge of your career

Is your resume bringing you results? Use the Laso Resume Builder if you want a step-by-step method for preparing a strong resume that reflects your unique background and skills.

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Life Coaching by Laurie Swanson