Steps to a Blockbuster Resume
- The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service
A resume has one purpose ?to market
your skills, achievements, professional background, academic history,
and future potential to a prospective employer.
Much like a 30-second commercial, todayís resume must provide
maximum data as quickly as possible, differentiate you from all
other candidates, and be attractively packaged.
Impossible, you think?
Not at all. Writing
a winning resume simply takes thought and planning.
After all, you wouldnít drive from
Los Angeles to
Manhattan without mapping the surest route.
The same goes for your resume.
By using the ResumeEdge?/sup> six-step process, youíll
gain perspective on your career target and the audience you need
to reach, learn how to showcase your strengths, minimize your
weaknesses, and produce a document with maximum punch.
Of course, if you do need professional
assistance, our certified resume writers are on hand 24/7 to provide
expert, personalized guidance.
Career and Audience
Set and Qualifications Summary
and Special Skills
Targeting Your Career and Audience
You must have a clear idea of what
you want to accomplish in your professional life in order to maximize
the impact of your resume for your targeted audience -- the hiring
manager or graduate school admissions director.
you begin, ask yourself these questions. Are you:
a lateral move?
- Pursuing admission into a graduate
For numbers 1-3 above, the most effective
way to begin targeting your resume is to search openings that
appeal to you on job boards (i.e. Monster, Hot Jobs. CareerJournal),
internal company postings, or newspaper classifieds.
With these in hand, you can highlight
the qualifications you will need to be considered and the duties
you would be expected to assume.
Every match in terms of qualifications and experience
will serve as key words** in your resume, as well as provide focus
so that the resume can be tailored for your targeted audience.
The more closely the content of your resume matches the content
of these postings, the more likely you will be asked to interview.
Resumes provided for graduate school admission showcase
your skills, professional experience,
accomplishments, and academic history in much the same way as
ďjob?span style="mso-tab-count:1"> resumes.
The difference is that an admissions resume will focus
on what transitions well to the classroom, not to the workplace.
words include industry-specific jargon or acronyms (i.e. "generally
accepted accounting principles" (GAAP) for accountants; "Certified
Professional Resume Writer" (CPRW) for resume writers; "Series
7 licensing" for brokers; "initial public offering"
(IPO) for investment bankers; "at-risk child" for social
2 Training" for physicians;
property law" for attorneys; "triage"
for nurses; and nouns or noun phrases indicating qualifications
or required tasks (i.e. general ledger, word processing, contract
negotiations, benefits, payroll, closing (for sales people); catering
services, new menu items, capacity
planning (for chefs); logistics, quality assurance,
advertising campaigns, product launches, staffing, training, orientations.
Companies that employ scanners require a set number of hits
on key words before the hiring manager will personally review
the applicantís resume. It
is always wise to incorporate as many key words as possible into
for Maximum Impact
The moment your resume is opened
by a hiring manager or admissions director, it must appeal to
him or her on an aesthetic level, while accurately reflecting
your industry or career goal.
To do anything else is to relegate your resume -- no matter
how brilliantly it is written -- to the rejection stack.
In order to ensure that your resume
receives the initial attention it deserves, itís important to
adhere to certain formatting guidelines, which include:
- Template and Font Choice
- Effective Use of White Space
- Prioritization of Data
Template and Font Choice
all cases, templates and font choice should:
- Be easy to follow.
There is no greater irritation to a busy hiring manager
or admissions director than to receive a resume where data is
presented in a haphazard or inconsistent manner.
Thatís why templates are used.
An effective template will present company names, dates,
job titles, academic information, and all other pertinent data
in a clear manner, so that a quick glance will tell the contact
person what they need to know.
But consistency in format isnít the only point to consider.
Templates should be chosen because they accurately
reflect a candidateís career or goal. In other words,
a banker, accountant, or administrative
choose a more conservative format than a graphic artist or interior
is more jarring -- or disastrous -- than to receive a financial
professionalís resume written in italics or script with accompanying
to read. Resumes
written in bold text or italics are extremely difficult to
read and project a lack of professionalism.
The same goes for artistic fonts that resemble
a common misconception that jazzing up a resume with
these stylistic tricks will get the document read.
On the contrary, the resume will get noticed -- and
discarded -- within seconds.
Itís not the font you use that attracts attention,
but rather the resumeís initial appearance and the words crafted
When in doubt about font choice, always err on the
conservative side. Two
good choices are Times New Roman or Arial in 11 points --
no smaller, or the text will be difficult to read.
Use of White Space
is no quicker way to get your resume ignored than to create a
document with (narrow or nonexistent) margins, and block after
block of uninterrupted text.
No one wants to read a text-heavy document with sentences
that run on for four or five lines.
In todayís fast-paced world, you must get your point across
quickly, with a minimum of words presented as bulleted sentences
within special sections (i.e. Professional Experience, Education,
Qualifications Summary), separated by well-placed white space.
of white spaces as necessary pauses -- a chance for the hiring
manager or admissions director to catch her breath, collect her
thoughts, and digest (and appreciate) the data youíve presented.
youíre a hiring manager.
Itís 7:30 on a Monday morning, and an important position
needs to be filled in your companyís legal department. Over the
weekend, 200 resumes came in from eager applicants all wanting
to fill this one job. Most
of the resumes are attractively formatted and use the appropriate
font type. So far
so good. But on closer
inspection, most of the candidates have relegated their willingness
to relocate for the position -- a core qualification -- to the
very end of their two-page resumes.
More than a few have buried accomplishments within the
text, figuring this will force the hiring manager to search for
that data, which means the entire resume will have to be read.
Some have placed bar admission, another important qualification,
dead last on the resume, believing that where they can practice
law certainly isnít as important as the fact that they are attorneys.
And a few misguided souls simply list company names and
dates of employment, assuming that the hiring manager should know
without asking what legal duties they performed at these firms.
enough to drive a hiring manager to distraction -- or another
then, at last, there are those few resumes that list the important
data at the top of the first page. In less than five
seconds the hiring manager knows that the first candidate
is willing to relocate and assume the cost of those expenses,
if required. This
candidate also provides a special section beneath the Qualifications
Summary that indicates where she is licensed to practice law.
The second candidate does the same, while also pulling
out Career Accomplishments and placing them at the top of the
first page. After
all, why keep a 100% win rate at trial a secret, or the fact that
one can practice before the stateís Supreme Court?
the above scenario, itís clear which applicants will be called
in for an interview. No
hiring manager will read every single resume that comes across
his desk. Nor will
a hiring manager search for data.
In todayís tight job market itís up to the candidate to
prioritize data so that a hiring manager knows at a glance
what the job seeker has to offer the company in terms of achievement,
work experience, education, licensing, certifications, and special
concessions, such as relocation.
Qualification Summary & Skill Set
yourself at the market after a long day at the office. Youíre
in a rush, of course, and want only to purchase those items on
your list, if theyíre on sale.
Hurrying into the store, you glance around for the
weekly advertising piece that indicates which items will be offered
at a discount. Trouble
is, thereís no advertising piece this week, and no one to answer
your questions. If
you want to purchase the items you most need at a discount, youíre
forced to walk up and down each and every aisle until you
find whatís available.
sound like much fun or an effective use of time, does it?
And yet this is the same type of frustration hiring managers
are exposed to every time an applicant sends in a resume that
fails to open with a well-written Qualifications Summary and/or
is a Qualifications Summary?
a brief paragraph that showcases your most effective skills and
experience as they pertain to your job search.
More importantly, itís your chance to convince a hiring
manager of the skills you can bring to the position.
This is essential, given that hiring managers generally
afford no more than 10 seconds to an applicantís resume,
unless theyíre compelled to read further.
how do you compel them to keep reading?
use this example: Youíre
an accountant who has worked at XYZ Company for nine years and
been promoted every time youíve come up for review.
Because of your organizational efforts, the company is
saving $2500 monthly. Youíve
passed the CPA exam. Youíre
skilled in Profit & Loss (P&L), audits, taxation matters,
and internal controls. Now,
you want a Controller position.
than including all of the aforementioned data in the body of the
resume, where the hiring manager would be forced to look for it,
but wonít (remember, youíll be given 10 seconds before
the hiring manager moves on), the wise candidate would write something
detailed professional with comprehensive accounting experience.
Background includes consistent promotions to positions of increased
responsibility. Skilled in P&L, audits, taxation, internal
controls, and streamlining procedures, effecting a monthly savings
of $2500 at XYZ Company. Recently passed the CPA exam; currently
seeking a Controller position.
five lines and a mere 45 words, youíve given specific examples
of what you can do (P&L, audits, taxation, internal controls),
quantified an accomplishment (streamlining procedures,
effecting a monthly savings of $2500 at XYZ Company), indicated
past performance (consistent promotions to positions of increased
responsibility), provided data on certification (recently
passed the CPA exam), and provided your career path (currently
seeking a Controller position).
And youíve done all of that in a well-written paragraph
thatís interesting and easy to read. (Note that personal pronouns
are not used here. In
business writing, which includes resumes, personal pronouns such
as I, me, or my are never used).
of outstanding Opening Summaries:
you say, but what about an Objective?
Where does that go?
the modern resume, an objective statement is no longer used.
The reason for this follows.
Summary vs. the Objective
the outmoded Objective, the candidate told the hiring manager
what he wanted, whether that was a job at the company, room for
advancement, a chance to use a new college degree, or any other
reason an applicant could think of and the hiring manager could
dismiss as self-serving.
On the other hand, the Qualifications Summary proactively
declares what the candidate can do for the targeted company,
which places the hiring managerís needs first.
A wise applicant always uses a Qualifications Summary,
either by itself or combined with a Skill Set.
What is a Skill Set?
speaking, it's a list of your core competencies as they relate
to your targeted career goal.
Again, letís take the example of the accountant who has
just passed the CPA exam and now wants to be a controller. Rather
than presenting all of that data in the qualifications summary,
a portion of it would be showcased as a tag line (professional
title or title of job youíre targeting) and skill set, and might
look something like this (followed by a reworked qualifications
detailed professional with comprehensive accounting experience.
Background includes consistent promotions to positions of increased
responsibility for notable achievements, including $2500 in monthly
savings at XYZ Company by streamlining procedures.
time, the first two lines, which contain just 15 words,
present core strengths quickly and effortlessly.
Accomplishments and Special Skills
There is no data on your resume more
important than your accomplishments.
Think of it this way: youíre a hiring
manager with one position to fill and 10 qualified candidates
clamoring for the position.
Each candidate has the same basic educational and professional
background. So, who
gets the job?
The candidate who contributed the
most at past positions. Accomplishments
are all that separate you from other equally qualified candidates,
with one caveat. Your accomplishments must be quantified.
is an Accomplishment?
the companyís bottom line (i.e. facilitating its growth)
projects successfully completed
or industry-sponsored awards
is not an Accomplishment?
responsibilities that are included in your job description
attendance at work
along with co-workers
full-time while going to college at night
or community service unless it has a direct bearing
on your job search
other words, an accomplishment is service that goes beyond your
usual job description. But
for an accomplishment to have the most effect, it must be quantified.
What is a Quantified Accomplishment?
that includes dollar figures, percentages, and time periods.
example: Our accountant has streamlined procedures, realizing
a $2500 monthly savings for his company.
The dollar figure quantifies the accomplishment,
while the ďstreamlined procedures?explains how he did it.
Now, if he achieved those savings within three months of
hire, that would further strengthen his accomplishments, and it
might be written thusly:
the hiring managerís reaction to the above as opposed to this
say much, does it?
Skills should always be presented up-front so that a hiring
manager knows what you can do.
In some instances, a special section (i.e. Computer Skills,
Languages, Office Procedures, etc.) should be created to showcase
these special skills.
skills will include:
- Office procedures (i.e. answering
multi-lined phone systems, taking dictation (include speed),
transcription, typing (include speed), 10-key, etc.)
capabilities (i.e. fluency in a foreign language, ability to
skill thatís industry-specific for the job youíre seeking
are a few examples of resumes with outstanding accomplishments
and skills showcased effectively for hiring managers:
Professionals ?Project Manager
?Supply Chain Director
the Professional Experience section you will list your employers,
job titles, and dates of employment in a reverse-chronological
order; that is, your most recent job comes first, followed by
your next most recent job, and so on.
This format is standard and is expected by all hiring managers
and admissions directors.
With regard to employment dates:
Generally speaking, hiring managers
prefer years of employment, rather than months and years (i.e.
1999 - 2003 as opposed to May 1999 - April 2003).
However, some college admissions programs want specifics
when it comes to dates, so itís best to use precise dates when
applying to graduate school.
In the Professional Experience section
you will also include daily tasks and responsibilities
beneath the appropriate employer listing.
If youíve included a Career Accomplishments section in
your resume, you should not repeat that data here.
Once data is presented in a resume, it must not be
To ensure that your daily tasks are
presented in an interesting and easy-to-read manner, you should
do the following:
a bulleted format. This
breaks up large blocks of text that could prove daunting to
a hiring manager.
unnecessary articles and adjectives.
Your sentences should be short and snappy.
each sentence with an action verb.
This quickens the pace of your writing and
the text more enjoyable to read. For a comprehensive choice
of action verbs,
please use this link: Power
An example of a bulleted format,
pared down writing, and sentences beginning with power verbs follows:
(Again, we use our accountant)
those jobs where you are still currently employed, write your
job duties in the present tense.
those jobs in the past, write the responsibilities you held
in the past tense.
Professional Experience can be captured and showcased in three
the functional format, you are stressing what you know
over where you gained your experience. This works for those who
have strong skills, but a weak employment record.
the chronological format, you are providing a work history
dating back from the present. This is the most common format and
is generally preferred by hiring managers.
the combination format, you are stressing what you know
in one section, while also providing work history dating back
from the present in another.
This is a highly popular modern format.
STEP SIX: Education
provided in this section should be prioritized (and included) according
- Your current career level (entry-level
as opposed to professional)
purpose of your resume
country in which your resume will be distributed
current career level:
youíre an entry-level candidate with little or no professional
experience, your education should be presented immediately after
the Qualifications Summary and/or skills
reasoning for this is that education is currently your most marketable
asset. Here, you would
- GPA (if 3.5 or above)
- Deanís list
- Coursework relevant to
youíre a professional with five or more years of experience, Education
should be listed
last on your resume.
GPAs, awards or scholarships, and mention of deanís lists
are not generally provided in a professional or executive resume,
except for those used for entrance into graduate school programs.
purpose of your resume:
sent to admissions directors for graduate school can list Education
before Professional Experience or after, depending upon these
- If the applicant has just recently
completed his bachelorís degree, it should be listed
before Professional Experience.
- If the applicant has real-world
experience related to the graduate degree she is seeking,
the Professional Experience should be listed first.
The country in which your resume
will be distributed:
If you are distributing your resume
within the US, high school education is not
included. The only exception to this rule would be if youíre
applying for a job with the federal government. In that case,
you would include high school data.
When distributing a resume outside
the US, then high school education is included.
Include all specialized training
that is transferable to your new job target. If
you have not attended college, include all specialized
training in your target field. Hiring managers generally prefer
to see some post-secondary education.