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Tightly Focused Resumes – Top Ten Guidelines

In my last article, I talked a bit about cover letters, and so, I thought I would speak about resumes today.

I am conflicted when it comes to resumes. I would not want to diminish the importance of a well written and structured resume. Yet, of all the major job offers I have received, my resume just did not play that big a part in getting the ball rolling.

I have never received a job offer through the help wanted. And in my earlier years, I sent out a lot of resumes to job postings in the Sunday help wanted, in years gone by, and dropped off a boatload resumes at job fairs. I have never had a response worth anything.

On the other hand, on a number of occasions, I have had contacts, that I meet through networking, ask for my resume. That in my mind is a vastly superior avenue for getting your resume out there. When someone directly asks you for a resume, there are some definite guidelines you must abide by.

1. A reader’s first reaction comes from their fingers. Even as the reader begins to focus their attention on the resume, she is already feeling the quality of the paper. And fair or not, she is probably making some subconscious assumptions about you. The moral of this tale

– you must use good quality, resume paper.

2. Easy to read. Three pages are not easy to read. A lengthy job descriptions and a blow by blow, year by year discussion of what you have been doing is not an easy read. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and imagine picking up your resume – and it happens to be the 23rd one. You have about 10 seconds to make her do a double take. First, she feels the quality of the paper, and then she sees the 4 page resume, and her eyeballs melt.

3. Word economy. You must not write in first person. Unlike a cover letter, a resume is not a personal letter. It is a statement of your past success, which you hope to demonstrate that you can replicate elsewhere. It will also help short sentences and make it easier to read

– ah-ha, it all ties in – sweet.

4. No passive verbs. People like to use passive verbs. But passive verbs have no place on the resume regardless of whether you like to use them or not. Action is what counts, so use action verbs.

5. Resumes must be targeted. Even if you are not using a “form” resume, when you send or drop off 50 resumes at a job fair, it is a “form” resume by default. This is no good. The document you hand to an interested party must be targeted and relevant to the receiving person. This may mean that you might have to write 20 different variations. So be it!

6. Cover letters and resumes are inseparable.

7. Greetings like “To Whom It May Concern,” “Dear Ma’am or Sir,” or “Hello” must never appear on any correspondence you sent – in connection with your resume or cover letter. Everything must be directed to a very specific, very warm, very breathing human being.

8. You must be on point and relevant. Although you may be proud of your involvement with non-profit groups, the reader probably could care less that you were a volunteer for “Meals on Wheels.” Volunteering is good, but if it is not relevant to the job you are seeking, do not mention it. On a broader point, I think listing hobbies, certificates, memberships, etc. is not a good idea. Beyond making the resume longer, I just do not see the value in it. Lastly, there should probably be a separate section for applicable – let me repeat – applicable skills and additional qualifications.

9. Resume is accomplishment driven. The resume should start off with a qualifications summary and some broad accomplishments. Your next section should be key jobs you have held and specific accomplishments. You also need a section with a simple listing of all your educational accomplishments – your BA or BS, MA, PHD, ABC, LPDYT, and whatever other alphabet listings you need.

10. Zero tolerance for bad grammar or typos. There is no greater guarantee than this – if your resume is sloppy, it will go in the trash.

So, there you have it, my ten key guidelines for writing resumes.

H. Kim has been up and down the corporate ladder so much, he’s on first name basis with each rung. Which is a good thing, because it lets him use all the successes, and more importantly, the mistakes, he’s made in his blog, “Landing On Your Feet: A Help You Find a Job Blog.”

Strategies, Tips and Advice, a few laughs and a couple of words of wisdom are all it is. Visit him today at http://www.LandingOnYourFeet.com

or, if you want – for a fresh and innovative take on resume presentations, take a look at the guru’s of Guerialla Resumess have cooking up at http://www.penniesonthedollar.org.