September 16, 2008

Tips for Success: Resume Writing

Every Tuesday, the blog at JobMonkey will discuss tips and hints for making the most of your job search. We welcome input from our readers and want to hear about the job hunting issues that challenge for you the most.

To get a crash course on Career Planning 101, check out JobMonkey’s section on the Job Search.

Today we are talking about resumes. I recently read that the average employer spends less than 10 seconds looking at your resume before making a decision about your candidacy. Employers are looking for a reason to put your resume in the No pile. If you want your resume (AKA curriculum vitae) to wind up in the Yes pile, then you need to make the most of your 10-second shot. Here are six tips that will give you a head start on the resume race:

#1. Keep It Short. If you have been working for less than a decade, your resume should not be any longer than a page.  Keep it short and to the point by using active verbs and pithy descriptions.

#2. Make It Readable. I know you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, but you don’t want to do it by picking a font that no one can read. So chose a standard font and use italics and bold sparingly.

#3. Write an Objective Statement*
One way to set yourself apart from the crowd is with a targeted objective statement. You put your objective statement right under the contact information, proceeded by the word "Objective".  Your statement should include 1-3 lines of text that summarize your main qualifications and aims.

* Writing an objective statement can bump your resume to the top of the pile; but it can also sink your resume.  Be sure your statement is super focused; otherwise skip it.

#4. Show NOT Tell. Rather than saying that you were a manager, show quantifiable examples of your managerial skills. For example, don’t write: "I handled outsourced service contracts." Instead, write that you "Decreased costs by 12% as a result of renegotiating phone service contract".

#5. Analyze the Ad. Carefully read the ad for the job to which you are applying; pay close attention to the words that describe the job functions.  Then make sure that your resume matches up with those descriptions.  See #6 for more information.

#6. Customize. Think of your resume as a template, which should be tweaked for each new job application. Add or change a notation on your job descriptions to match the job ad and pay special attention to the "objectives" section of your resume. 

For more help with your resume, see JobMonkey’s checklist for your resume and our list of sample resumes.

Sign up for our newsletter!