Resumés that Rock!

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

Ready…Set…Go..! You have 30 seconds to make an overall first impression. That’s how long employers will spend scanning your resume. This means you have to be succinct and clear. Ensuring your resumé instantly captures a prospective employer’s attention, and addresses their need for information about you, will really pay off. Let’s find out how.

When you’re hunting for a job, a resumé is your introduction and personal advertisement so it needs to convey four strong messages:

  • You will be beneficial to the company’s operations;
  • You’re a team player;
  • You have the required education, training and experience; and
  • You possess the skills and tenacity to accomplish the job description.

An effective resumé has three sections: contact information, a summary statement, and supporting evidence.

Contact Information
Your contact information is at the top of your resumé. Use your legal name, the one shown on your school records and social insurance card. If your surname has changed, indicate so. Provide your address, telephone numbers (personal, office, cell), e-mail address and, if you have one, your web site. You don’t want employers to discard your resumé because they can’t contact you.

Summary Statement
A Summary Statement immediately follows the Contact Information. Here, you make assertions about your abilities, qualities and achievements, and indicate your employment objective. This should be a powerful and honest description, one that entices the reader to recognize you as the perfect candidate. Too many resumés fail to include the Summary Statement even though it often is the only section fully read by an employer. If it’s sound and persuasive, the employer will read on. If not, the rest of your resumé is wasted.

The first sentence should indicate your objective. Choose keywords from the ad or job description you’re targeting, and tailor your objective to include those words. Here’s why. Suppose an automotive manufacturer advertises for a Director of Sales. After receiving 100 resumés, it becomes evident that most of the applicants lack a background in sales and/or the automotive industry. Imagine he then receives a resumé that begins: “OBJECTIVE – an automotive sales management position in an organization seeking an opportunity to generate new accounts, exceed sales targets and develop enthusiastic customer relations.”

Want to see an employer’s eyes perk up? The first sentence shouts, “I want what you’re offering! I have the skills you desire! I can impact in your company!” Skills, background, and long-term desire — all wrapped up in one package. It’s a win/win situation.

Streamline the Summary Statement for each position you are applying for. Here’s another example: “OBJECTIVE — an interactive sales position with customers, suppliers and fellow employees in the automotive industry where a background in automotive traffic/sales control, an understanding of the vehicle sales functions in dealerships, and an ability to develop and adapt computer software is an asset.”

Fine-tune every word in the Summary Statement to your targeted objective. Include phrases such as: highly motivated, especially skilled at, extremely energetic, a gift for solving complex problems, proven ability to, proven record of, exceptional interpersonal skills, track record of producing extraordinary results for, committed to excellence in, skilled in working within. Remember, the payoff you want is an interview.

Evidence section:

This section substantiates your assertions. It outlines your educational background and positions you’ve held. Because resumés are quickly skimmed, it is crucial your key selling points are prominently showcased here. If an Automotive Marketing degree or an MBA is critical to your profile, then your education shouldn’t be buried at the end of your resumé.

The “no resumé should exceed one page” rule no longer applies. If it takes two pages to reflect your experience and accomplishments, then do it. Don’t chop out the important details that provide a vivid picture of your strengths and expertise, but be clear and concise. If this is your first job, or if you have less than five years work experience, stick to a one-page resumé. For more than five years and an abundance of accomplishments, use two pages. Also, don’t reduce the font size so much that your resumé is difficult to read. Size 10 Verdana or Tacoma is widely used.

In today’s competitive job market, an inspiring resumé that impresses even the most discriminating employer is the most important factor in surpassing the competition and getting that interview. Trust the process. Good luck in your job search!

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