By: Paula Kerr, Contributor
In today’s job market you need to have more than a chronological listing of previous employment to land the right job.
What’s changed? Well, if nothing else, times certainly have changed and many employers are looking for that skillfully crafted résumé. Now more than ever persuasive, relevant, and compelling résumés are one of the most effective tools needed to distinguish one candidate from another.
No Two Résumés are Created Equal
Although many résumés look alike, they will not necessarily convey the same message. A résumé must be a dynamic tool that engages the employer in your story. A dynamic résumé:
- Contains the value-added benefits the employer requires
- Matches your own qualifications to the requirements of the position
- Helps to persuade management regarding the skills you will bring to the table – without actually saying it
- Tells your story and shows everything you have to offer
- Is often one that catches the reader’s attention immediately
How Persuasive Do You Really Want to Be?
The ultimate objective in writing a persuasive résumé is to make it clear that you know what you want. An ordinary résumé won’t do that. So how, do you write a résumé that convinces an employer that you have what it takes to do the job? There is not a wrong or right way to write a résumé; however, if you want to land that dream job, there are a few important things to consider:
1. Avoid the functional format – Employers are looking for details such as dates, name of companies. If dates and company names are missing it will seem like the applicant is “hiding” something.
2. No need to write objectives – These are outdated and usually vague. Briefly restate the position you’re applying for and why you believe you are qualified for it. Most résumés today will often start with a “Summary of Qualifications” or simply a “Summary” statement. This, in a nutshell, gives the reader a snip-it of your overall qualifications.
3. Leave off your age, marital status, graduation dates, unless you know it will be advantageous to include it.
4. Rather than listing duties and responsibilities, make sure your résumé provides specific accomplishments (not just what you did, but how it was done – and the end results)
5. Write clearly and concisely. Use active words (i.e.: acquired, implemented, processes, initiated, etc.)
6. Utilize correct grammar and the right font. Use a font style that is easy on the eyes, such as Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman. Font color should always be black and the size should not be smaller than 10 points, but no larger than 12 points (unless you are applying for a graphic design position and want to go for something more creative).
7. Keep your résumé to no more than two pages. Employers tend to get weary after reading the first couple of paragraphs. Anything more than two pages is a turn off. If you cannot say it in two pages, go back through it and cut some more.
8. Fit your résumé to the company – and the position, if necessary. If you are applying for an accounting position, share what skills you have that will fit that position.
9. Never include salary information on your résumé . You don’t want to talk yourself out of a job. You typically would include salary on the job application (if asked), or discuss it in the interview (if asked). Additionally, never give an exact salary figure. Instead, give a range such as “My last salary was in the low, mid, or high $40s.” Or, for hourly rates, you might say something like: “$10-$15/per hour.”
10. Leave off references – Most résumés end with “References will be furnished upon request.” That’s old school. Keep your references on a separate sheet or paper and only present it, if asked.
11. Get sound feedback. Some people may not be able to afford the services of career centers, but they might have friends, professors or mentors who can double-check your résumé for accuracy and precision. Make sure there are no typos. Read it out loud or ask someone to read it back to you. If it sounds persuasive, then you’re well on your way.
12. Be open to advice. In my earlier career experiences, I was blessed to have met a recruiter who eventually became my mentor for many years. After reading my résumé, she called me the next day and said, “Your résumé looks good, but I need to ask you to change a few things.” She pointed out opportunities in my résumé and showed me how I could improve it so that my skills would be more “marketable.” I recalled one key bit of advice she gave to me: “Always write your résumé in a pyramid format…” When I asked what she meant, she simple said, “Start by listing the most important duties for each position and end with the least important ones…”
Remember that a dynamic, well-constructed and thorough résumé tells the story about you. Therefore, give it your most careful attention.
Need More Résumé Help?
There are numerous tools and resources online that you can tap for résumé help. Other sources include your college’s career center, local bookstore or your local library.