Guide To Resume Writing
Embed Size (px)
Transcript of Guide To Resume Writing
ASSESSMENT TOOLS AND RESUME WRITING
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section 1 – Resume Writing
1. What is a Cover Letter?2. What is a Resume?
3. The Resume’s “Objective” Section
4. Customize Your Resume’s Objective
5. Chronological Resumes (Typical Resume Format)
6. Resume Action Words
7. Onlne tools for writing resumes / Recommended Reading
8. Homework Assignment: Let’s Get Started
9. Guidelines to Best Presentation of Resume
10. Your Elevator Pitch
11. Questions You Should Ask Yourself
12. Consider Freelancing
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter:
a. Is a one page document which is designed to introduce the author and explain the materials (resume; references; work samples; etc.) being submitted.
b. Expresses gratitude beforehand for the time of the person who will be reviewing the material & suggests that reading the material will actually be an excellent use of that time.
c. Includes research on the employer so that the author can reference the company's recent activities or recent accomplishments.
d. Usually addresses the specifics of a job opening / position / career field with a line which subtly indicates that the author is perfectly suited.
e. Provides information which would not be as appropriate for a resume such as: geographic focus of your job search; availability to begin a new role; previous government security clearances held; veteran’s status; etc.
f. Can include supplemental information (Blogs; volunteerism; professional memberships; published pieces; links to personal websites; hobbies; etc.) about the author, to make the author seem more human and accessible.
g. Has a final paragraph with multiple contact touch points (cell #; home #; email address; twitter; IM; etc.) for the author; and, it closes with a formal salutation such as “Sincerely.”
Since you have been impacted by a layoff rather than a performance-related issue, you may want to consider mentioning it in your cover letter. Employers are more forgiving of layoffs, so mentioning this might work in your favor. You can write something like this:
“As you may have read, (company name) announced a round of layoffs, and my position was eliminated. Although saddened to leave this company, where my performance has consistently been rated as outstanding, I am looking forward to repeating my same record of success for my next employer...”
What is a Resume?
a. A summary of one's experiences; applicable skills; and personal accomplishments relevant to a field of work for the information of potential employers.
b. A selling tool that outlines your skills and experiences so an employer can see, at a glance, how you can contribute to the employer's workplace. Your resume has to sell you in short order. While you may have all the requirements for a particular position, your resume is a failure if the employer does not instantly come to the conclusion that you "have what it takes."
c. A summary for the purpose of showing potential employers that you are qualified for the work you want. Its purpose is to get you an interview; it isn’t a biography of life.
It is a mistake to think of your resume as a history of your past, as a personal statement or as some sort of self expression. Sure, most of the content of any resume is focused on your job history. But write from the intention to create interest, to persuade the employer to call you. If you write with that goal, your final product will be very different than if you write to inform or catalog your job history.
Most people write a resume because everyone knows that you have to have one to get a job. They write their resume grudgingly, to fulfill this obligation. Writing the resume is only slightly above filling out income tax forms in the hierarchy of worldly delights. If you realize that a great resume can be your ticket to getting exactly the job you want, you may be able to muster some genuine enthusiasm for creating a real masterpiece, rather than the feeble products most people turn out.
Writing a great resume does not necessarily mean you should follow the rules you hear through the grapevine. It does not have to be one page or follow a specific resume format. Every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. It should be appropriate to your situation and do exactly what you want it to do.
The good news is that, with a little extra effort, you can create a resume that makes you stand out as a superior candidate for a job you are seeking. Not one resume in a hundred follows the principles that stir the interest of prospective employers. So, even if you face fierce competition,
with a well written resume you should be invited to interview more often than many people more qualified than you.
The bad news is that your present resume is probably much more inadequate than you now realize. You will have to learn how to think and write in a style that will be completely new to you. Let's take a look at the purpose of your resume. Why do you have a resume in the first place? What is it supposed to do for you?
Here's an imaginary scenario. You apply for a job that seems absolutely perfect for you. You send your resume with a cover letter to the prospective employer. Plenty of other people think the job sounds great too and apply for the job. A few days later, the employer is staring at a pile of several hundred resumes. Several hundred? you ask. Isn't that an inflated number? Not really. A job offer often attracts between 100 and 1000 resumes these days, so you are facing a great deal of competition.
The prospective employer staring at the huge stack of resumes and isn't any more excited about going through this pile of dry, boring documents than you would be. But they have to do it, so they dig in. After a few minutes and some subset of their pile of resumes, yours gets read from beginning to end. Then, it gets put on top of the tiny pile of resumes that make the first cut. These are the people who will be asked in to interview.
Research shows that only one interview is granted for every 200 resumes received by the average employer. Research also tells us that your resume will be quickly scanned, rather than read. Twenty to fifty seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read further. What this means is that the decision to interview a candidate is usually based on an overall first impression of the resume, a quick screening that so impresses the reader and convinces them of the candidate's qualifications that an interview results. As a result, the top half of the first page of your resume will either make you or break you. By the time they have read the first few lines, you have either caught their interest, or your resume has failed. That is why we say that your resume is an advertisement. You hope it will have the same result as a well-written ad: to get the reader to respond.
To write an effective resume, you have to learn how to write powerful but subtle advertising copy. Not only that, but you must sell a product in which you have a large personal investment: you. What's worse, given the fact that most of us do not think in a marketing-oriented way naturally, you are probably not looking forward to selling anything, let alone yourself. But if you want to increase your job hunting effectiveness as much as possible, you would be wise to learn to write a spectacular resume.
You do not need to hard sell or make any claims that are not absolutely true. You do need to get over your modesty and unwillingness to toot your own horn. People more often buy the best advertised product than the best product. That is good news if you are willing to learn to create an excellent resume. With a little extra effort, you will usually get a better response from prospective employers than people with better credentials.
A great resume doesn't just tell them what you have done, but asserts: If you buy this product, you will get specific, direct benefits. It presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career. It "whets the appetite"; stimulates interest in meeting you and learning more about you; and, inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.
Sue Campbell (http://www.1st-writer.com/what_is_a_resume.htm) writes: It is a rare candidate who is hired by his or her resume alone. It is just as rare to be offered an interview without a resume.
A resume is often the first line of contact. It establishes a first impression of a potential job candidate's skills, background and hiring value. If written well, this impression can be a positive one, offering the reader a sense of the candidate's "fit" for the position and company being targeted. If written really well, it may convince the reader that the job candidate is ideally suited for the job. When coupled with an effective cover letter, the resume can be a very strong marketing tool.
Preparing a resume may be seen as a nuisance, but having a well-constructed, well-designed resume is an important part of your job search. Consider that for each available job opening there may be as many as 100 to 1000 resumes submitted. If your resume fails to adequately and accurately convey your hiring value (for the specific position), fails to establish your hiring value over competing candidates, or is difficult to follow, your ability to compete against those 100 to 1000 professionals vying for the same position your are will be greatly diminished.
If your resume secures an interview, it has done its job. If it sets you ahead of the competition in the mind of your interviewer, then it has given you a distinct advantage, and has gone beyond its job.
A great resume does
what all good marketing pieces do:
it sells the "consumer"
(the potential employer or hiring manager)
on the "product" (you).
Like it or not, the job of looking for employment is a job in sales and marketing. The product you are "selling" is you, and the "customer," who has unique needs and interests, needs to be sold on the fact that you have what it takes to get the job done and to meet the needs of the position. He or she is going to want to know how you are going to solve his or her problems, and he or she is going to give your resume about 15 seconds, or less, to sell this. 15 seconds is the average time a hiring manager will allot to a new resume - before giving it a potential "yes" or "no" response.
Will your current resume succeed under these conditions?
Preparation is Key In preparing your resume, the more you know about the position you are targeting, the better. If you know the company's missions and goals, if you understand the needs of the position, if you recognize the company’s “concerns,” and if you know who comprises the company's competition... AND you (and your unique skills and experience) can meet the needs of all the above (you have accurately assessed your own value to those who have employed you in the past), you will have the material necessary to create an effective marketing piece.
As in any type of marketing material, it is important to present the information so that it captures your customer’s interest quickly. Your goal is to encourage the reader to stay with your document as long as possible. Your chance for a more detailed reading increases when you give the reader that information which he or she most wants to secure, early in the document.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create a Summary Section at the beginning of your resume. A Summary Section highlights why interviewing you will be a worthwhile expenditure of time.
For Whom Are You Writing? You are not writing your resume in order to put your career autobiography out there for posterity. It is about how you can meet the needs of your reader - in this particular position at this particular company. It is all about them. During the interview is when your first opportunity for negotiation takes place and you get to discuss what you get out of the deal.
But right now, the only person who matters is your reader. They hold all the marbles. When writing your resume, keep in mind your specific reader. Listing information that will be of no value to the position or company being targeted is just a waste of time.
Check for redundancy in your statements. If the positions you have held are similar, then repeating the same functions in detail throughout your document is unnecessary (heard it, got it). However, do not short-change yourself on your accomplishments.
It may be prudent to review your prior performance reviews for the accomplishments that your former boss acknowledged. Another source for data may be the job descriptions for previous positions you’ve held; although you don’t want to list “dry” lists of tasks, it may trigger your recall of personal accomplishments.
Your potential employer is most interested in seeing how hiring you will benefit him/her and the company. (How will you make them more money? How will you save them more money?) If you are dealing with a hiring manager or human resource director, you can bet he or she has a lot resting on the fact that, if you are hired, they found the right person for the job. It is expensive to hire & train; all parties involved want to know they are making the right decision, and it is your job to assure them that they are.
The most effective way to do this is by identifying how you have benefited employers in the past. Take credit for your participation and accomplishments; while significant
accomplishments are rarely the result of one person, avoid using the “we”. Rather, focus on the ”I”, and amplify your history of personal contributions.
Presentation, Presentation, Presentation The layout of your resume is extremely important. Your resume needs to maintain a “clean” and professional appearance (remember, it is representing you!). It should allow the reader to access the information quickly. To assure neat margins & adequate "white space" between groupings, fold your resume pages into 4 equal quarters; reopen; and, review upside down. If the 4 quarters aren’t fairly equal in density of text, you’ve got some more editorial or layout work to do.
The standards for resume length have changed; for candidates with years of experience, one page per decade (of work experience) is a reasonable standard. Concisely, accurately, and effectively communicate your skills, history, achievements, and accomplishments - as these relate to the position and company being targeted. A multi-page document is appropriate, as long as the information you provide is relevant and valuable to your reader’s goals and interests. An overly long presentation may leave your reader wondering whether you’re capable of concise communications.
Be certain to document growth at employers where multiple positions were held, including identification of promotions and increased responsibilities. List positions held prior to this in decreasing detail. Depending on your target audience and career track, quantitative versus qualitative statements may be better:
“I implemented process improvements which reduced waste by 10% and excess inventory by 8.5 %.
“Satisfaction ratings rose by 11% for the customers I was assigned.”
“Customers felt better after I helped them with their issues”
“I authored and presented a marketing campaign to our largest client.”
You want to entice you reader into wanting to meet you (the interview) to learn more. Current history and recently utilized skills will hold the most value. Remember, you will have an opportunity to expand on the information in your resume during the interview. So, entice your reader to want to learn more, but don't forget to leave something to tell.
Photocopy, Fax, and Scan – You don’t know what will happen to your documents once submitted, be certain that it can hold up to scanning, faxing or photocopying. For this reason, bring along fresh copies of your resume to each interview. Many interview sessions are held by multiple interviewers, and each interviewer should have a clean copy of your presentation.
The resume will not get you the job, but it can certainly secure your chances of being seen and interviewed. Or, it can cause you to be passed over in favor of a candidate who offers a better presentation. As with any type of marketing campaign, use your resume as one tool in your search. Continue to network, improve your interviewing skills, and use every avenue available to you to better your chances and opportunities.
The Resume’s “Objective” Section
Perhaps you are wondering what resume objectives are and why they are needed. A resume
objective is a short, influential statement at the top of your resume that helps the employer
understand how you will benefit their company or organization. Because employers swiftly
speed read (avg = 20-60 seconds) or electronically scan resumes to computer programs to
determine interest, resume objectives play a key part in deciding your fate. A powerful objective
will capitalize on the first few seconds of scanning your resume; hopefully, it has adequate
impact to grab the employer’s attention.
This statement shows you understand and can fulfill the target role. When using resume
objectives correctly, you will have a better chance of being called in for an interview. A resume
objective discusses what the employer is seeking. Your objective helps the employer swiftly
decide whether if you are a good candidate without having to take into consideration the other
facts on your resume.
Despite the fact that most examples of good resumes start out with strong resume objectives, there is a movement towards eliminating this section entirely. This is because it can really make you appear amateurish if you make the mistake of making this section too vague. You may not feel comfortable omitting this section completely but when you do include it, make sure it really stands out. Failing to do this and just including a vague or generic resume objective is not going to land you your dream job. While this type of bland objective may not directly cost you a job, it will do nothing towards helping you to land a position.
However, you can really impress a potential employer by starting off your resume with information on some of your most useful skills. In doing this you will really be telling the hiring representative something about you that will make you seem well qualified for the job.
When a car company is trying to sell their inexpensive compact to an older audience, they show grandpa and grandma stuffing the car with happy, shiny grandchildren and talk about how safe and economical the car is. When they advertise the exact same car to the youth market, they show it going around corners on two wheels, with plenty of drums and power chords thundering in the background. You want to focus your resume just as specifically.
With a nonexistent, vague or overly broad objective, the first statement you make to a prospective employer says you are not sure this is the job for you. Be absolutely clear about your career direction; if you aren't clear where you are going, you wind up wherever the winds of chance blow you. You would be wise to use this time of change to design your future career so you have a clear target that will meet your goals and be personally fulfilling. Even if you are a little vague about what you are looking for, you cannot let your uncertainty show. The way to demonstrate your clarity of direction or apparent clarity is to have the first major topic of your resume be your OBJECTIVE.
For this reason, if you are going to include a resume objective, you should spend the time to make sure the statement you use really gives you an edge over the competition. The resume objective is usually the first thing the potential employer reads about you so make sure this section says something about you that will win them over. First of all this section of your resume should really reflect who you are as a person and as an employee. You may have to stick to fact when you describe your work experience but you can be more creative with the objective. You want to be creative but not too bold. Use this opportunity to tell about yourself and why you should get this job.
Customize Your Resume’s Objective
If you include an objective on your resume, it's important to customize the resume objective to match the position you are applying for. The more specific, the better chance you have of being considered for the job.
Kevin Donlin (http://www.enetsc.com/ResumeTips11.htm) writes: far too many resumes begin with objective statements that can only be described as ... half-baked. As a professional resume writer, I review and analyze nearly 2,000 resumes each year. And the opening objective is an area where almost everyone could use a little help with their resume.
To show you what I mean, here are three example objectives from actual resumes sent to me for analysis by job seekers just like you. (His comments are in parentheses.)
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a responsible (as opposed to irresponsible?) and challenging (what, you don't like dull work?) position where my education and work experience will have valuable application (like finding a cure for cancer?)
OBJECTIVE: Seeking a position in the sales department with an opportunity for advancement (in effect, you're saying to the employer, "Give me a job where the pay is good ... and keeps getting better.")
OBJECTIVE: Seeking a challenging career with a progressive organization which will utilize my skills, abilities and education in management, product management, operations, purchasing and buying. (Zzzzz. You won't bore anyone into hiring you.)
You can stand out from the crowd if you'll just write your objective from the employer's point of view, instead of your own. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is. All you have to do when writing your objective is make sure it answers this question: "What's in it for me?" That's the question on every employer's mind as he or she reads your resume. Here's an example objective, to get you started:
OBJECTIVE: Management position in procurement where over 10 years of experience will add value to operations.
Avoid such trite phrases as: "seeking a chance for advancement," or "where my skills will be utilized," or "where I can further my career." I've seen each of these on resumes that were badly hampered as a result.
OBJECTIVE: A quota bearing, territory sales position in the west Columbia, SC area for AT&T.
So, to keep your objective from being objectionable (and torpedoing your job search), put the focus where it belongs -- on the employer and their needs.
A few examples of Objectives:
Vice president of marketing in an organization where a strong track record of expanding market share and internet savvy is needed.
Senior staff position with a bank that offers the opportunity to use my expertise in commercial real estate lending and strategic management.
An entry-level position in the hospitality industry where a background in advertising and public relations would be needed.
A position teaching English as a second language where a special ability to motivate and communicate effectively with students would be needed.
Dive Master in an organization where an extensive knowledge of Caribbean sea life and a record of leaving customers feeling they have had a once-in-a lifetime experience is needed.
This format will present information in a reverse timeline (most recent experience first and progressing back through earliest experience). This is the most common type of resume. It illustrates how you have made progress towards your career objective through your employment history. This type of resume is best if you have demonstrated experience within your desired career field. It highlights the positions you have held and the companies for which you have worked.
Many employers and recruiters expect and prefer this format Employers can easily scan chronological resumes
Provides a straightforward history of your work experiences
Can accentuate a lack of work experience Will illuminate employment gaps and/or job hopping
Employers can guess your age if you include older experiences
Typical Chronological Resume Format:
1. Header with commonly used name; address; home #; cell #; email; IM; twitter2. Job Objective (explained above)
3. Work Experience (with company name; address; phone number; manager name; beginning & ending MM/YY). List your accomplishments in bullet format (rather than paragraph format). Avoid discussing job duties or responsibilities.
4. Education This section should include school(s) attended (including years of attendance), majors/minors, degrees, and honors and awards received. Also appropriate to include formal “continuing education” which involved an exam to “pass” and/or acquired competencies in computer skills; however, don’t list every meeting; lecture; or, conference you’ve ever attended.
5. Professional Affiliations & Networks / Offices Held / Volunteerism. Items from this section are often used as an ice-breaker by interviewers looking to start an interview on an informal basis.
6. Professional References (from clients; colleagues; and, leadership). Many experts say this section is passé, but if you have room, include it. If nothing else, this section signals the end of your resume. This section should only include a statement saying references are available upon request. Do not include the names of your references on your resume, but it’s important that you line up people who are willing to provide strong references to potential employers.
a. Start by making a list of all of your prospective references. It’s best to choose people who have worked with you in a business setting, but if needed, you can also include personal references from people who’ve worked with you in a volunteer capacity.
b. Call the people you’ve selected and ask if they’d be willing to serve as references.
c. Compile a master list that has all of the pertinent contact information for your references.
d. Be sure to alert and update your references before they are called by potential employers.
e. Always thank your references and offer to return the favor in the future.
A typical chronological resume is best suited for those who have stayed in the same field. Career changers and those job-seekers with varied work experiences may prefer to utilize a functional resume style.
The functional resume is used to assert a focus to relevant skills that are specific to the type of position being sought, rather than on your chronological work history. This format directly emphasizes specific professional capabilities and utilizes experience summaries as its primary means of communicating professional competency. It is used most often by individuals with any of these conditions:
People who are changing careers People who have gaps in their employment history
A mixed career background with a collection of jobs not specific to the type of position being sought.
Someone returning to a previous profession, where the most recent experience is not as directly applicable as transferable to the job currently sought.
Someone ready to develop a professional career from less than full-time experience, either from part-time or pastime related experience while ones full-time occupation differs from the previous full-time background.
Job seekers returning to the workforce after a considerable lapse in employment.
Breakdown: The functional resume format uses a summary introduction section followed by a detailed description of the job seekers skills and expertise in specific functional areas. This "functional" section serves as the main area of content. Work History will be listed below (usually in reverse chronological order). Work History is represented as a simple listing and does not include descriptions of the job. Education and other sections are listed below.
The outline for a functional resume will generally follow this type of pattern:
Name and Address Header Opening Headline, Objective or Occupational Title
Summary of Qualifications
Education and specific Computer, Software or Equipment Skills or Training
Functional Resume Sample #1
-Jose A. Adelo1525 Jackson Street, City, NY 11111
Phone: 555-555-5555Email: [email protected]
OBJECTIVE To obtain a position where I can maximize my multilayer of management skills, quality assurance, program development, training experience, customer service and a successful track record in the Blood Banking care environment.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS Results-oriented, high-energy, hands-on professional, with a successful record of accomplishments in the blood banking, training and communication transmission industries. Experience in phlebotomy, blood banking industry, training, quality assurance and customer service with focus on providing the recipient with the highest quality blood product, fully compliant with FDA cGMP, Code of Federal Regulations, AABB accreditation and California state laws.
Major strengths include strong leadership, excellent communication skills, competent, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environment and supervisory skills including hiring, termination, scheduling, training, payroll and other administrative tasks. Thorough knowledge of current manufacturing practices and a clear vision to accomplish the company goals. Computer and Internet literate.
Facilitated educational projects successfully over the past two years for Northern California blood centers, a FDA regulated manufacturing environment, as pertaining to cGMP, CFR's, CA state and American Association of Blood Bank (AABB) regulations and assure compliance with 22 organization quality systems.
Provided daily operational review/quality control of education accountability as it relates to imposed government regulatory requirements in a medical environment.
Assisted other team members in veni-punctures, donor reaction care and providing licensed staffing an extension in their duties by managing the blood services regulations documentation (BSD's) while assigned to the self-contained blood mobile unit (SCU).Successfully supervised contract support for six AT&T Broadband systems located in the Bay Area. Provided customer intervention/resolution, training in telephony and customer care, Manpower Scheduling, Quality Control, Payroll and special projects/plant extensions and evaluations to ensure proper end-of-line and demarkcation signal.
Reduced employee turnovers, introduced two-way communication to field employees, enhanced employee appearance and spearheaded the implementation of employee (health) benefits.
Chief point of contact for the AT&T telephone and the ABC Affiliated TV stations as it relates to complaints and diagnosing communicational problems either at the site or remote broadcasting. Also tested/repaired prototype equipment for possible consideration or for future use.
Reviewed FAA safety requirements and procedures to ensure compliance for aircraft and passenger safety.
Communication expert and programming specialist for the intermediate range Lance and Persian missile systems. Trained to operate and repair the (FDC) fire direction control computer system and field satellite communications.
Supervised and maintained the position of System Technician in charge of status monitoring and the integration of monitoring devices in nodes and power supplies. For the reception and transmission of telemetry to the network operation centers (NOC's) located in Denver, CO and Fremont, CA. Designed plant extensions, improved the paper flow and inventory control for the warehouse. Provided preventative maintenance at the system level, face to face customer interaction when required and traveled to several telephony/@home systems in the U.S. for evaluation and suggestions in using the status monitoring equipment.
Associate of Art, Administration of Justice, San Jose University, San Jose, CA
NCTI Certified, CATV System Technician, Denver, CO
ABM Certified, Cornerstone Technician, Denver, CO
Functional Resume Sample #2SANDY HARTFORD
425 N. 5th Street Springfield, IL 62704 (217)523-4567 e-mail: [email protected]
1988, B.S. Journalism (primary emphasis in advertising) Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
€ Developed comprehensive marketing plan for Dodge Neon for campaign's course.
€ Developed and marketed individual and group travel programs for executives, employees, groups, and organizations.
€ Responsible for retail merchandise pricing and general sales.
€ Utilized demographic information and readership data of trade publications for advertising media expenditures.
€ Prepared and presented marketing research at regional travel conferences.
€ Implemented marketing surveys to determine favorable travel facilities and destinations.
€ Wrote advertising copy for major retail ads.
€ Selecting best vehicles for retail copy and promotion.
€ Budgeted out advertising expenditures from copywriting to final printing and placement stages. Reduced operational costs by 20% in first year of program.
€ Developed a comprehensive creative strategy and advertising campaign for Dodge Neon for campaign's course.
1990-present Sales Associate Borgsmiller Travel, Carbondale, IL
1988-1990 Customer Service Representative Ruthies' Formal Wear, Carbondale, IL
Resume Action Words
It is important that you use actions words to give you more impact on your resumes. Nearly every book on article on the topic of résumé writing will advise you to use high-impact action words, and avoid the passive tense. When you sit down and actually write, it is tough to come up with some original words. Capture your employer’s eyes by referring to these lists of action words.
Use Easy Resume Creator Pro with these words in your resume to highlight your experiences, responsibilities and how you can be of value to your employer.
Resume action words increase the impact your resume will have on the employer. Everyone knows a successful job search strategy begins with a professionally written resume that clearly outlines your skills and qualifications. Combining your years of experience, educational accomplishments, and skills into a one or two page document can be a bit overwhelming. To top it off you need to ensure that every word you write impacts the employer in such a way that they call you for the interview.
Action words for a resume are designed to impress the employer by strengthening your qualifications. Employers typically receive hundreds of resumes for open positions. They don't have the time or resources to read every one of them. Therefore, they quickly scan them picking out the ones that stand out from the crowd. In most cases the resumes that stand out are the ones that contain powerful keywords.
Technology has added a new twist in the job search market. Many employers now accept resumes or job applications electronically through emails or websites. Resumes received electronically are scanned for keywords related to the job announcement. If your resume happens to contain keywords related to the job criteria then it will be tagged for further review. If not, you lose out.
When you list your skills, experience, and qualifications on your resume you need to start each statement with an action word. This will show your potential employer that you're a results oriented person who can clearly communicate their experience. Resume action words are verbs used to express your achievements in a concise persuasive manner.
Which description below would grab an employer's attention?
I worked as the boss of a 15 person department. OR I supervised a team of 15 call center employees
The one that used an action verb is more specific and easier to read. It adds substance to the description. Do you see how important it is to use action words in your resume? Be cautious; don’t go overboard; or, "keyword stuff" your resume.
Many companies or recruitment firms today use resume scanning software. This software generally identifies and sorts resumes by looking at certain "keywords" in the document. This ranking system helps them to decide who is a good match for the advertised position and who isn’t.
It is good to have “action words” versus “passive words” in your resume; however, you also want to avoid using the same word over and over again. Neither do you want the resume to
sound like a thesaurus, nor to contain a vocabulary that is obviously outside the way you verbally communicate. Take time to think about your accomplishments and select words (within your normal speech pattern) that convey the action within your work history. Using the right resume key words can get you the interview!
Do you know which keywords are right?
One way is to look closely at the job ad or posting. See which words are used. If you can, look at a number of other ads for that company and see if there are certain words that keep popping up.
Go to the company website and look at their “about the company” section; their “mission statement”; or, their “key values” sections. Press releases & annual reports are other great sources.
Scan trade journals for your industry or career track, then select resume key words.
Try to use keywords in both your resume and cover letter.
Use the most important keywords within the first line or two of each job description section of your resume.
The Riley Guide's (www.rileyguide.com) “How to Job Search” recommends - Answer These Questions: What Do You Want to Do? What Can You Do? (Skills and Occupations)
The answers to these questions will begin to build a list of Keywords you can use in your search.
What industry interests you, what type of employer? It is great if you have some specific companies you want to target: Fortune 500, Inc 500, high-tech start-up, family-friendly organization...
Having trouble thinking of keywords?
Ask a friend to help. Friends can frequently see things in you that you can't. They might also have some good ideas and interesting options for you to consider.
Ask a Librarian. Librarians are usually very good at this kind of exercise, but try to ask for some help when the reference desk isn't busy so he or she can concentrate better on your project. He or she can probably point you to books and other resources that can help.
Scan some Online Job Banks.
Search some of the major job lead banks like Yahoo! HotJobs (hotjobs.yahoo.com), or JobCentral (jobcentral.com) for jobs that interest you. Read the job descriptions, note the skills and kinds of experience the employers are seeking, and then use these words in your search.
Read a Good Book Check your local bookstore or library for a copy of What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles (Ten Speed Press). It contains some exercises designed to help you identify your skills and interests, some of which are on the web in his JobHuntersBible. Your local career center, public library, or employment service center will have even more good resources you can use. We have a few listed at the at the end of this article.
A Few Resume Key Words to Avoid
There are also some words that can detract from the overall effectiveness of your resume. For one thing, you don't want to use clichés (i.e. awesome, totally, basically); texting jargon (i.e. BFF, L82R); vague phrases (I improved safety at every job.); or, sweeping statements (…a challenging job that utilizes my skills). You also need to avoid "flowery" speech and words. By trying too hard to sound intelligent or "in the know," you may convince your reader of just the opposite—or even worse, confuse them.
Unless you're trying to convey your ability to function as an integral part of a team, words like “assisted”, “contributed”, and ”supported” are not going to be very effective. These words basically say you helped, but not how. If you must use these words, follow them with a more complete description of your role. “Successfully” is a meaningless resume key word. Rather than using it, give concrete examples of your accomplishments that prove your success at your past jobs. The key is to say what you mean, plainly and simply, using powerful action words. Stick to these resume key word rules and you can't go wrong!
Action Verbs -- By Skills Categories
Remember to use these verbs to describe your skills and accomplishments when writing your resume and cover letters -- to increase the strength of your writing and make potential employers take notice! Besides the sprinkling of various job-related key words throughout your resume, it's also crucial that you make use of action verbs in all of your descriptions. Action words need to be specific and provide a clear, concise picture of your accomplishments, skills, and experience. Here are some that you can consider.
Addressed, Advertised, Arbitrated, Arranged, Articulated, Authored, Clarified, Collaborated, Communicated, Composed, Condensed, Conferred, Consulted, Contacted, Conveyed, Convinced, Corresponded, Debated, Defined, Developed, Directed, Discussed, Drafted, Edited, Elicited, Enlisted, Explained, Expressed, Formulated, Furnished, Incorporated, Influenced, Interacted, Interpreted, Interviewed, Involved, Joined, Judged, Lectured, Listened, Marketed, Mediated, Moderated, Negotiated, Observed, Outlined, Participated, Persuaded, Presented, Promoted, Proposed, Publicized, Reconciled, Recruited, Referred, Reinforced, Reported, Resolved, Responded, Solicited, Specified, Spoke, Suggested, Summarized, Synthesized, Translated, Wrote
Creative & Artistic Skills
Acted, Adapted, Began, Combined, Composed, Conceptualized, Condensed, Created, Customized, Designed, Developed, Directed, Displayed, Drew, Entertained, Established, Fashioned, Formulated, Founded, Illustrated, Initiated, Instituted, Integrated, Introduced, Invented, Modeled, Modified, Originated, Performed, Photographed, Planned, Revised, Revitalized, Shaped, Solved
Data Analysis & Financial Skills
Administered, Adjusted, Allocated, Analyzed, Appraised, Assessed, Audited, Balanced, Budgeted, Calculated, Computed, Conserved, Corrected, Determined, Developed, Estimated, Forecasted, Managed, Marketed, Measured, Netted, Planned, Prepared, Programmed, Projected, Qualified, Reconciled, Reduced, Researched, Retrieved
Customer Service & Helping Skills
Adapted, Advocated, Aided, Answered, Arranged, Assessed, Assisted, Clarified, Coached, Collaborated, Contributed, Cooperated, Counseled, Demonstrated, Diagnosed, Educated, Encouraged, Ensured, Expedited, Facilitated, Familiarized, Furthered, Guided, Helped, Insured, Intervened, Motivated, Prevented, Provided, Referred, Rehabilitated, Represented, Resolved, Simplified, Supplied, Supported, Volunteered
Administered, Analyzed, Appointed, Approved, Assigned, Attained, Authorized, Chaired, Considered, Consolidated, Contracted, Controlled, Converted, Coordinated, Decided, Delegated, Developed, Directed, Eliminated, Emphasized, Enforced, Enhanced, Established, Executed, Generated, Handled, Headed, Hired, Hosted, Improved, Incorporated, Increased, Initiated, Inspected, Instituted, Led, Managed, Merged, Motivated, Navigated, Organized, Originated, Overhauled, Oversaw, Planned, Presided, Prioritized, Produced, Recommended, Reorganized, Replaced, Restored, Reviewed, Scheduled, Secured, Selected, Streamlined, Strengthened, Supervised, Terminated
Approved, Arranged , Catalogued, Categorized, Charted, Classified, Coded, Collected, Compiled, Corrected, Corresponded, Distributed, Executed, Filed, Generated, Incorporated, Inspected, Logged, Maintained, Monitored, Obtained, Operated, Ordered, Organized, Prepared, Processed, Provided, Purchased, Recorded, Registered, Reserved, Responded, Reviewed, Routed, Scheduled, Screened, Submitted, Supplied, Standardized, Systematized, Updated, Validated, Verified
Analyzed, Clarified, Collected, Compared, Conducted, Critiqued, Detected, Determined, Diagnosed, Evaluated, Examined, Experimented, Explored, Extracted, Formulated, Gathered, Inspected, Interviewed, Invented, Investigated, Located, Measured, Organized, Researched, Reviewed, Searched, Solved, Summarized, Surveyed, Systematized, Tested
Mentoring & Teaching Skills
Adapted, Advised, Clarified, Coached, Communicated, Conducted, Coordinated, Critiqued, Developed, Enabled, Encouraged, Evaluated, Explained, Facilitated, Focused, Guided, Individualized, Informed, Instilled, Instructed, Motivated, Persuaded, Simulated, Stimulated, Taught, Tested, Trained, Transmitted, Tutored
Analytical & Technical Skills
Adapted, Applied, Assembled, Built, Calculated, Computed, Conserved, Constructed, Converted, Debugged, Designed, Determined, Developed, Engineered, Fabricated, Fortified, Installed, Maintained, Operated, Overhauled, Printed, Programmed, Rectified, Regulated, Remodeled, Repaired, Replaced, Restored, Solved, Specialized, Standardized, Studied, Upgraded, Utilized
If you would like information on how to structure your resume document (section-by-section) take a look at the article "Resume Basics."
Online tools for writing resumes:
1. http://www.pongoresume.com 2. http://www.easyjob.net/
3. http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Resumes/SR_Start.aspx? cblid=scpsrpr001&sc_cmp2=JS_Nav_PR_Write
1. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume. Susan Ireland.
2. Resume Catalog: 200 Damn Good Examples. Yana Parker.
3. The Overnight Resume. Donald Asher.
4. Best Resumes for Scientists and Engineers. Adele Lewis.
5. Blue Collar & Beyond: Resumes for Skilled Trades & Services. Yana Parker.
6. Does Your Resume Wear Combat Boots? William Fitzpatrick.Addresses the needs of military personnel entering the civilian workforce.
Guidelines to Best Presentation of Resume
Visually enticing, a work of art. Simple clean structure. Very easy to read. Symmetrical. Balanced. Uncrowded. As much white space between sections of writing as possible; sections of writing that are no longer than six lines, and shorter if possible.
Uniformity and consistency in the use of italics, capital letters, bullets, boldface, and underlining. Absolute parallelism in design decisions. For example, if a period is at the end of one job's dates, a period should be at the end of all jobs' dates; if one degree is in boldface, all degrees should be in boldface. It should be exceptionally visually appealing, to be inviting to the reader. Remember to think of the resume as an advertisement.
Absolutely no errors. No typographical errors. No spelling errors. No grammar, syntax, or punctuation errors. No errors of fact.
Show you are results-oriented. Wherever possible, prove that you have the desired qualifications through clear strong statement of accomplishments, rather than a statement of potentials, talents, or responsibilities. Indicate results of work done, and quantify these accomplishment whenever appropriate. For example: "Initiated and directed complete automation of my department, resulting in time-cost savings of over 25%." Additionally, preface skill and experience statements with the adjectives "proven" and "demonstrated" to create this results-orientation.
Writing is concise and to the point. Keep sentences as short and direct as possible. Eliminate any extraneous information and any repetitions. Don't use three examples when one will suffice. Say what you want to say in the most direct way possible, rather than trying to impress with bigger words or more complex sentences. For example: "coordinated eight city-wide fund-raising events, raising 250% more than expected goal" rather than "was involved in the coordination of six fund- raising dinners and two fund-raising walkathons which attracted participants throughout St. Louis and were so extremely successful that they raised $5,000 (well beyond the $2,000 goal)."
Vary long sentences with short punchy sentences. Use phrases rather than full sentences when phrases are possible, and start sentences with verbs, eliminating pronouns ("I", "he" or "she"). Vary words: Don't repeat a "power" verb or adjective in the same paragraph. Use commas to clarify meaning and make reading easier. Remain consistent in writing decisions such as use of abbreviations and capitalizations.
Watch your verb tense. Use either the first person ("I") or the third person (''he," "she") point of view, but use whichever you choose consistently. Verb tenses are based on accurate reporting: If the accomplishment is completed, it should be past tense. If the task is still underway, it should be present tense. If the skill has been used in the past and will continue to be used, use present tense ("conduct presentations on member recruitment to professional and trade associations"). A way of "smoothing out" transitions is to use the past continuous ("have conducted more than 20 presentations...").
Break it up. A good rule is to have no more than six lines of writing in any one writing "block" or paragraph (summary, skill section, accomplishment statement, job description, etc.). If any more than this is necessary, start a new section or a new paragraph.
Telephone number answered “professionally”. Be sure all phone numbers (without exception) listed on your resume, are answered in a professional manner. Also discipline yourself to check your email 4-5 times per day; these days, most cell phones provide that capability.
Now is not the time to have recordings like:
“Hehwo! Mummie & Duddie (child’s voice) ardn’t available, peeze weave methage”
“Whaz Up! You know what to do, so leave your message at the beep”.
You do not want to lose the prize interview merely because the caller questions your professionalism & maturity.
Don’t include Salary history. This information may be used to screen you out; better to wait until asked for this information in the interview or on an application. The later in the process this information transpires the better for you because it gives you more time to build value in the eyes of the potential employer.
Don’t include reasons for leaving various jobs. Just as with the salary history, being able to discuss these reasons during an interview is best; otherwise, the information might eliminate you out early in the process.
Your Elevator Pitch
Your “elevator pitch,” is a very abbreviated description of yourself and your job objective, delivered in 20-30 seconds (the approximate time of an elevator ride).
Once you develop your pitch, you’ll be using it for networking, socializing and in response to that perennial, “So, tell me about yourself.”
Developing a powerful pitch takes practice. Write it out, rehearse it in front of your mirror, and then try it out on your friends; family; and your support team. Ask each for suggestions on ways to improve it, but keep in mind you only have 20-30 seconds & it’s YOUR pitch.
Craft an effective pitch which is crisp, succinct and pertinent, providing enough information that the listener gets a good sense of your experience and objectives in a quick sound bite.
It’s somewhat like a shortened version of the “2 minute drill” at the end of a NFL game. When the clock starts, one MUST know in advance exactly what they are going to do / say. This is not the time to say “ah…uh…um” and fumble for your words.
It is essential to anticipate that sooner or later you will have to deliver such a 20-30 second synopsis on “What you do” & “What you’re looking for”.
Optimally, the next questions you’ll hear are:
Do you have a business card?
Do you have a resume?
You will be relieved to discover that not all introductions take place in the elevator! It could be a formal introduction in an interview, over the phone, where you can’t see the other person, at a social gathering, etc.
You should prepare and practice different versions for these situations, so that when they occur, you deliver with confidence and then stop talking! Do not start to repeat or expand if silence follows.
Give the person time to think and formulate a question, without overloading them with more information. Mentally count to 10 slowly to help control your nerves. Smile and relax your shoulders. If appropriate, maintain eye contact or switch eye contact, if there is more than one
person. Know what comes next in any presentation or discussion. Structure your pitch, so that it encourages expansion, but is clear on its own when delivered in 20-30 seconds. (What will come next are examples of how your strengths have produced results in the past and how this relates to the future. Keep this back, but practice what comes next, to make your pitch compelling and avoid being repetitive.
Although you will be well practiced, be prepared to follow their lead. If they jump in with a question that appears “out of sequence”, answer it briefly and fully, but then return to your pitch delivery. If this happens a second time, remain flexible, but ask yourself what are their questions telling you.
Practice your pitch in front of a mirror or video yourself. Record you pitch and listen to it as if it were an incoming phone call. Keep the videos and play back to a close friend or family member who will give you open and honest feedback – this is all about improving delivery and eliminating any negative style or content issues that you may not initially be aware of. It can be simple things, like humming…, erring… or rattling coins in your pocket!
Anticipate and plan for potential questions that arise from your pitch, prepare and practice short, clear, honest answers.
Questions You should Ask Yourself: What key qualifications will the employer be looking for? What qualifications will be most important to them that you possess?
Which of these are your greatest strengths?
What are the highlights of your career to date that should be emphasized?
What should be de-emphasized?
What things about you and your background make you stand out?
What are your strongest areas of skill and expertise?
What are your strongest areas of knowledge?
What are your strongest areas of experience?
What are some other skills you possess--perhaps more auxiliary skills?
What are characteristics you possess that make you a strong candidate? (Things like "innovative, hard-working, strong interpersonal skills, ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously under tight deadlines")
What are the three or four things you feel have been your greatest accomplishments?
What was produced as a result of your greatest accomplishments?
Can you quantify the results you produced in numerical or other specific terms?
What were the two or three accomplishments of that particular job?
What were the key skills you used in that job? What did you do in each of those skill areas?
What sorts of results are particularly impressive to people in your field?
What results have you produced in these areas?
Susan Bryant with Monster.com writes: Russ Carr, a designer and writer in St. Louis, has twice had a line on a job only to see it slip away when the employer lost a key account or decided to distribute the duties among current employees. To keep some money coming in, Carr started freelancing. “I haven’t stopped trying to shop myself for a full-time gig again, but freelancing certainly has kept food on the table,” he says. “If you’re in a field that supports it, don’t think twice -- just do it.”
If freelancing isn’t practical, try temping. “Consider interim staffing to fill a temporary slot for work that needs to be done despite the economy,” advises Ronald Torch, president and CEO of the Torch Group, a marketing staffing firm in Cleveland. Or temp with a company that interests you. “Many of these options pay well and can carry the burden of bill-paying until a permanent position comes along.”