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How To Perfect Your Resume to Land the Job You Want

New York Daily News

04.16.2009

by Nicole Lyn Pesce

Every New Yorker knows that appearance is everything. And if you don’t look good on paper, especially in this economy, competing for employment becomes even more challenging.

The resume is the key to unlocking your next job offer. It’s your first impression and the chance to make the most of your past experience. It’s also easy to perfect, with the help of an insider.

Job recruiter Brad Karsh, author of “How to Say It on Your Resume: A Top Recruiting Director’s Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume for Every Job,” knows what it takes to create a winning paper trail. Applying his tools to your work history will give you the edge in any industry. - Nicole Lyn Pesce

1. Show, don’t tell.
“Ninety-nine out of 100 people write what I call a job-description resume versus an accomplishment resume,” Karsh says. “I already know what a salesperson does. I want to know what you did.” Rather than writing, “I worked with clients selling products,” illustrate your role with examples like, “I sold the first product to Harlem Hospital.”

2. Update your resume regularly.
“People will say, I don’t remember how many awards I won, and that’s a shame,” Karsh says. “They’re missing some important information because they haven’t updated their resume in 10 years.” Tweak your resume every six months. You don’t have to rewrite the whole thing. Just pick four or five of your best accomplishments and add them in.

3. Mind the length.
“It’s ideal to have a one-page resume, but if you’ve been working for 10 years and have enough good stuff to put on two pages, that’s fine. But never more than two pages.” A student’s resume, on the other hand, should never run longer than a page, since you haven’t done much yet.

4. Support everything you say.
“A pet peeve of mine that people do all the time is they will fill the resume with what I call self-ascribed attributes,” Karsh says, “like, I’m a hard worker. Well, would you write that you were a lazy worker?” Back up your claims with strong examples. “I have great communications skills, having delivered more than 60 presentations to audiences as large as 1,000 people,” sends the message better than, “I’m a good communicator.”

5. Edit your extracurriculars.
“If you sit on the board of the American Cancer Society, or play a big community service role, then it’s a great idea to throw that on,” Karsh says. “But I wouldn’t have 17 bullet points.” List just a couple of items, especially those where you play a leadership role or help benefit the community.

6. Ditch the personal bio.
“Believe it or not, I see that a lot of people put their marital status, height, weight, age and Social Security number on their résumé,” Karsh says. “That has nothing to do with the job.” This is just going to make the job recruiter extremely uncomfortable, as companies can get into serious legal trouble if it appears they’ve discriminated against an applicant based on age or appearance.

7. Tailor the resume to the job.
“What a lot of people do is go on-line, see 50 jobs, and click apply, apply, apply, and that doesn’t work,” Karsh says. You want the recruiter reading your résumé to start nodding their head as soon as they pick it up. So if the job calls for someone who can do sales, move any of your sales-related bullet points to the top of the list. “Reading the job description and tailoring your achievements is how you can stand out in this sea of hundreds and sometimes thousands of candidates.”

8. Typos are inexcusable.
“The resume is supposed to be you at your best, and if you can’t be typo-free on a single sheet of paper or two, what will you be like when you’re working?” Karsh asks. “Typos read as careless.” The recruiter is sifting through thousands of résumés to hire one person. Don’t give them an excuse to toss yours aside!

9. Remain relevant.
Sometimes more experienced job seekers add six or more bullet points from a job or internship they had 10 years ago. “At this point, nobody cares that you helped launch the Commodore 64 computer,” Karsh says. Focus your résumé on what is most relevant now, and touch upon past successes briefly. “These things [like your college internship] need to
start fading off your resume over time.”

10. Don’t get defensive.
Getting laid off isn’t the social stigma it once was. “Especially in this economy, a lot of job seekers have a gap in their resume,” Karsh says. “The trick is, let’s say you were laid off in June 2005, and then you found a job in May 2006. Instead of putting months and years on your résumé, just put the years. Your last job was from 2003 to 2005, and your next job is 2006 to 2008. Pull out the months, so the gap is not as obvious.” Or address the gap in your cover letter.

View original at New York Daily News.

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