By Louise Fletcher
10 Steps to a Killer ResumeYou
know the feeling. You spend hours, or even days,
creating a resume. You pore over every word of
your cover letter and agonize over what to say in
your email. Then you hit 'send' and wait. And
wait. And wait. No one calls. No one writes. You
don't know if anyone even saw your resume. When
this happens, it's easy to get dejected and worry
that employers are not interested in you. Don't!
Remember, they haven't met you. They have only
seen your resume and that may be the problem.
1. Is your resume the
You may have heard that your resume should fit on
one page. This is nonsense. Recruiter or hiring
managers don't care if your resume is one or two
pages long. But they do care whether it is easy
to read and gives key information upfront. Your
resume can be one, two, or (occasionally) even
three pages. The only rule is that the length
should be appropriate for you. If in doubt follow
the (very general) rule of thumb that less than 5
years experience probably only requires one page
and more than that may need two.
2. Does your resume
clearly position you as someone who can meet the
needs of the employer?
Think of a resume as an advertisement for a
product, only this time the product is you. Just
like any other advertisement, positioning is
everything. The person who receives your resume
will scan it quickly, perhaps for no more than 20
seconds to determine whether you can help her
company. Your job is to say quickly, clearly and
loudly that you can!
Don't just launch into a
chronology of your career history. Instead,
determine your own positioning by spelling out
your message at the start of the resume and
giving the reader your version of events upfront.
For this reason, you should use the first 1/3 of
your resume to create a compelling personal
profile which highlights your key strengths in an
attractive, easy-to-read format.
3. Does your resume begin
with an objective?
Don't start with an objective. Recruiters and
hiring managers don't like them because they
focus on the needs of the job seeker rather than
the needs of the potential employer. Consider
this objective statement: "Seeking a
software engineer position with a progressive
employer where I can contribute to the
development of new technologies and work with
bright, committed people."
This may be very honest but it is
irrelevant to the reader, who does not care what
you want and only cares what you have to offer.
Instead of an objective, try using a positioning
statement that clearly and concisely explains
what you have to offer.
"Senior Software Engineer
with 10 years experience developing leading-edge
Now the reader can immediately
see your value to the company. (For even greater
Now the reader can immediately see your value to
the impact, tailor this statement for each
position so that the reader immediately sees a
match between his/her needs and your skills.)
4. Does your resume
You must place your achievements in context by
providing specifics. For example, don't say
something vague like "contributed to product
design." This tells the employer nothing
about your actual contribution. Instead be
specific about what you did: "Conducted
market analysis for (name of product) to
determine design and mechanics. Led changes to
original design spec. despite initial developer
objections. Received critical acclaim and sold
over 4 million units." See how being
specific makes a difference? This level of detail
shows the reader the contributions you have made
in the past (and therefore the contributions you
can be expected to make in the future).
5. Have you outlined
achievements as well as responsibilities?
Don't provide a laundry list of responsibilities
without showing what results you achieved. Most
employers already know what the main
responsibilities of your job were. They want to
know what makes you different from all the other
applicants. An effective resume summarizes job
responsibilities in a few sentences and then
provides details of quantifiable achievements.
Focus most of your resume on the
results you accomplished, not the regular duties
of your job.
6. Are there any typos?
Your resume has to be perfect. Proofread it over
and over again. When you are sure it's perfect,
have other people proof it! If even one word is
misspelled the reader will assume that you didn't
know how to spell the word (this is bad) or that
you didn't care (this is even worse!) Nothing
puts the reader off more quickly than
misspellings or typos.
7. Is the resume easy to
At least 50% of the impact of your resume derives
from design. A strong resume design will pull the
eye through the document, making it easy to keep
reading and will highlight your key strengths
clearly. But if your resume is badly laid out,
disorganized or hard to read, it will be
discarded before the reader knows how qualified
To see examples of how to lay out
your resume, go to the library or bookstore and
look in the career section. You will find
collections of sample resumes. Take time to
understand how the page has been laid out and
then apply what you've learned to your resume.
8. Have you listed
Don't list your hobbies unless they directly
support your qualifications for the position.
Don't detail your marital status or the number of
children you have. Don't mention non-professional
affiliations such as political or religious
volunteer work unless it directly relates to the
position you are applying for. Any personal
information runs the risk of turning the reader
off. However proud you are of personal
achievements, you should not run the risk of
alienating someone before you even have your foot
in the door.
9. Are you too modest?
Don't be uncomfortable about blowing your own
trumpet. Too many people play down their
achievements. While you should never exaggerate
on a resume, you should definitely take credit
for the things you've accomplished. Some people
feel uncomfortable boasting on paper preferring
to explain in an interview. But if your resume
doesn't spark interest, you may never get that
opportunity, so don't be modest!
10. Have you created an
internet-ready version of resume?
If you have to post your resume online, or apply
to a job via an online system, you will need to
convert your resume to a text-only format. If you
don't do this, your resume will be almost
impossible to read because most online systems
cannot support the type of formatting used in a
resume (bold, italics, bullet points, lines etc.)
When you send your resume out, it must speak
articulately for you. You can't explain
inconsistencies, clear up confusion or fill in
things that are missing. Your resume has to make
your sales pitch in a clear and compelling manner
within 20 seconds. Invest the time to make it
exceptional and you will see an immediate
increase in the response rate.