Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tips for Successful Resumes

Tip 1 - Use Titles or Headings That Match The Jobs You Want

With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer's attention within a 5-second glance.

A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want. For example, compare the headings Clint used in his before resume to the headings used in his after resume.

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Headings in Clint's resume before and after the resume:

Accounting / Recordkeeping became Management of A/R and A/P Accounts
Administrative became Computerized Accounting Applications
Computer Skills became Departmental Administration / Recordkeeping

Which set of headings are the strongest for an Accounts Payable / Receivable Manager position?

Even though Clint's title was Accounting Assistant, he actually managed over 1,000 A/R and A/P accounts. Using skill headings that market the true nature of Clint's job duties will generate him more interviews and higher salary offers.

Tip 2 - Use Design That Grabs Attention

Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume. If they see unrelated job titles or skills the likelihood is very high that they will make an immediate assumption that you are not qualified for the job you want.

Adding to this problem is the fact that employers don't have the time to read through each of your job descriptions to determine if you have the skills they need.

You Must Do That For Them! The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.

Tip 3 - Create Content That Sells

Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive.

Compare the before and after statements from Clint's resume:

Maintained records for accounts receivable and accounts payable accounts became
Managed over 1,000 accounts receivable and payable accounts working directly with the Chief Financial Officer.

Which of these examples presents Clint as being more qualified, having higher skills and worth a higher salary?

As this example illustrates, our image of Clint is changed and elevated when we read the after example.

Tip 4 - Quantify and Use Power Words
As Clint's after statement demonstrates, using numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities can greatly expand and elevate your image.

Using numbers and quantifying creates vivid images in our mind when we read them, whereas general statements like the before examples are easy to skip over or forget.

Giving numbers give a strong impression of accountability, capability and makes your experience proven and specific. Typically the more specific you can be in describing your duties the better.

Another strategy that is extremely important in controlling the image that employers develop about you--is to use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want.

For example, Clint wants to use the experience he's gained to move into a management position. To strengthen his image he should use as many "management oriented" words as possible. This will show his interviewers that he knows about "management talk" and he is familiar with management concepts.

Which example below do you think is the strongest?

Typical Verbs:
Gave work assignments to staff of entry level accounting clerks.

Power Words:
Directed workflow, supervised and trained accounting staff performing posting to general ledger, accounts receivable and payable accounts.

Tip 5 - Analyze Ads and Job Descriptions to Identify Key Words

Learning how to analyze the key words that employers provide in help wanted ads and job descriptions is a key element in creating powerful resumes.

For example, read the ad Clint found for an Accounts Receivable Manager below and see how many key words, phrases, or skill descriptions that it includes.

Accounts Receivable Manager

Seeking experienced A/R Manager to oversee accounts, manage billing and collections, train accounting and clerical staff, develop status reports for management and prepare monthly balance sheets. B.A. Degree or A.A. Degree with minimum of 2 years experience required.

Even though this ad is small it contains 12-13 key words or phrases that should be addressed in Clint's resume. This will make his potential employer aware of the fact that Clint has read the ad and understands what is expected of the position and that he has the ability and experience to fulfill these duties.

Clint can also key words from an ad like this to create headings for his resume such as:

Key Word Skill Headings

Management of A/R Accounts
Billing and Collections
Supervision of Accounting and Administrative Staff
Balance Sheet and Management Status Reports


Regina Pontow "Resume Writing"

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