Creating the Winning Resume

No matter what the ads say, using a print shop’s resume service is not the fastest path to the next best job. With resume fraud running rampant, employers are becoming more savvy about the most frequent fraudulent claims on resumes. Most companies perform background and substance abuse checks, and sometimes credit checks.

Going to a resume service has a major downside. All of the resumes look the same, and anyone who frequently reviews resumes can spot the formats immediately. Being recognized as using one of those services says something negative about you, your creativity and your writing skills.Characteristics-of-a-Winning-Resume

So, how do you prepare a winning resume?

Tip # 1

A resume should be no more than one to two pages. Unless you’re applying for a professorship at a noted university, avoid a lengthy resume that puts the reviewer to sleep or takes too much time to wade through. Remember, we live in the age of sound bites. State the facts and only the facts.

Tip # 2

A resume should answer only one question. “Do I want to know more about this person?” Remember, when a manager is plowing through an insurmountable stack of resumes, the first task is to eliminate as many as possible to get to the ones that need to be reviewed more thoroughly. Don’t be one that gets shifted into the “no” stack, which will be much larger than the “yes” stack.

Tip # 3:

State the tasks required and the outcomes delivered in each position. Don’t waste superlatives in a resume. Those are for the in-person interview. Here are some sample resume statements that simply state the facts:

“Responsible for the design, development, testing and implementation of a web-based .NET customer service application for the accounting product. The project was completed and implemented on time and under budget.”

“Developed a new formula for acid-based treatment of industrial metals. Utilized a new technique to bind amino acids to environmentally friendly compounds.”

“Created a complete workflow process for accounts payable processing utilizing the Microsoft Dynamics ERP system.”

Tip # 4

Provide complete details on tenure showing start-month and year and end-month and year. For a break in service, explain the break in a short phrase that eliminates the immediate concern and allows for further discussion and clarification during the face-to-face interview.

June 2007 – Present
Galaxy Management Consulting, NY, NY.
Sr. Consulting Analyst

September 2006 – June 2007
Involved in settling family estate after death of father

March 2000 – September 2006
Sr. Security Analyst

Note, the period from September 2006 to June 2007 is a long enough break to give someone pause for concern and cause the resume to be put in the “no” stack. If the break was for a job search, indicate so. In bad times, it is not unheard of for senior folks to spend up to six months searching for a position. Show the truth, which is better than letting the reviewer decide that you were in a rehab unit due to a drug problem. Think that is ludicrous? Spend a little time in the staffing business and you’ll learn how crazy some reviewers can be.

Tip # 5

Never stretch the job tenure or stretch the truth. Doing so will always catch up with you sooner or later.

Tip # 6

If you are going to list certifications or licenses, always indicate whether they are current or in force. If not, that is OK, as long as you declare the fact.

Tip # 7

This is perhaps the most important of all. Someone in your life is good at writing and knows how to properly use the English language. Get that person to review and edit your resume. Typos, misspellings, poor grammar and poor phrasing is the kiss of death in a resume. These will get it put in the “no” stack as fast as you can say, “I want a job.”

Contact your former English teacher, your pastor/priest or the next door neighbor who teaches at a community college. Get someone to help clean up your writing, even if you feel competent in your skills. No matter how many times you read your own product, you will miss things that another will see. You only get one chance when a manager is reviewing your resume.

What are your ideas on writing winning resumes?

2 thoughts on “Creating the Winning Resume

  1. I was told that the month wasn’t necessary for job tenure. Of course that was a long time ago… Has that changed?

    Also, regarding resume length, when someone has many years experience, how far back should a detailed account go? My resume is five pages, It takes one page alone for an overview and to list all of my skills. Then, there is another 4 pages for experience.

  2. Will, As you know there are entire books written on the subject of resume writing, and the recommendations are varied.

    To your question … consider your audience.

    If you are submitting to a job posting, then your resume will be “screened” first. The screener may not know the details of the job, much less the details on your resume. Screeners are looking for reasons to say no. They want to narrow the field down to a handful of candidates … a manageable number. Your resume should be clear and as concise as possible. Months on the dates of service are appropriate. Because you are playing a numbers game, your odds are not good unless you have done the same job in a similar industry with similar technologies. Make sure that your resume isn’t screened out for leaving off dates or not being specific on what you did, for whom, when and the results.

    If you are submitting to a recruiter, presumably a good one, also use a detailed resume (with months). A good recruiter will coach you on formatting the resume for their client so that it highlights the skills that the client is looking for.

    If you are networking with hiring managers or people who may be able to refer you to a job, use a resume that is concise and that highlights accomplishments; more than a skills list. In this case, you probably can drop the months. Be careful of loading up a resume with buzzwords and lingo when you are networking for a job. The lingo can prevent your non-technical friend from understanding what he or she can do for you.

    As a side note, when networking it is probably best to ask for a referrals … instead of asking for the friend to forward your resume for you. I believe that a warm referral gives you a chance to sell yourself. Forwarding resumes around doesn’t.

    I hope that you find your dream job!

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