Resumes that get results have one thing in common - they answer the employer's key question: what's in it for me?
Think about the manager who opens your email and starts to read your resume. In all likelihood, she is overworked and understaffed. She's probably working to tight deadlines and she desperately wants to hire that extra person to make her life easier. So when she looks at your resume, she wants to know one thing: how you will make her life easier? Yet 95% of the resumes she receives won't answer that question.
If your resume quickly and clearly conveys your value, it will generate interviews. It really is that simple.
To check how well you're doing, rate your resume against the following five criteria.
1. Does your resume have a clear focus? If you have more than one type of experience (say retail management and human resources administration) don't use one resume for all situations. Instead, create two resumes - one that shows your abilities as a store manager and one that conveys your HR expertise.
2. Do you start with a summary? Don't begin your resume with an objective statement that describes your desires and career goals. Instead create a powerful summary that shows how you will add value to potential employers. The key is to demonstrate to the reader that there is a clear fit between your skills and their needs. (If you don't know what skills are important for your target positions, you need to do some research. Look at job descriptions and at job postings for similar positions and make a note of the common requirements.)
3. Do you stress your achievements? You must present evidence that you add value. Too many resumes focus on job responsibilities, but describing achievements shows the impact you actually made. Achievements are a powerful way to show your ability to make a difference. If you outline how you have made improvements, solved problems, generated revenue, saved money or done innovative work in the past, people will want to meet you.
4. Do you quantify your accomplishments? Try to convey your experience to someone who doesn't know anything about you. Quantifying your achievements helps readers understand your background. For example, an administrative assistant may write that she: "centralized the purchasing of office supplies, saving $50,000 per year." A sales manager might emphasize having "increased hardware sales by 35% within 6 months."
5. Do you provide context? In order to really appreciate your achievements, the reader needs context. By being specific, you can help him understand the value of hiring you. An easy way to include this information is to describe each position you have held and include information about the situation in which you found yourself. For example, notice how the following job description provides context and allows the reader to imagine how this assistant might contribute in any office setting:
XYZ ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON DC
Recruited to organize busy office of Washington non-profit organization. Established office procedures, organized 10 volunteers and implemented filing and storage systems to gain control of three-year backlog of disorganized information.
* Cleared 226 cartons of policy statements, memos and briefings within 3 months.
An effective resume presents a vivid picture for potential employers. If your resume has a clear focus, starts with a powerful summary, expresses and quantifies accomplishments, and provides context, your value will be clear to potential employers and they won't have to ask: what's in it for me?
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Louise Fletcher is President of Blue Sky Resumes and founder of the Career Hub blog. This article is an excerpt from Louise's free eBook, "The Insider's Guide to Job Search." Download your copy now
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