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Give Your Resume A Makeover

Monday, November 23, 2009

By Courtney Pike, Director of Operations, JobBound

There are beauty makeovers, fashion makeovers, and even extreme home makeovers.  Upon completion, there is a sense of renewed happiness, confidence, and self-assurance.

Getting a resume makeover is no different.  It simply allows the true, wonderful "you" to burst out.  Could you hand a Recruiting Director your resume right now with complete confidence that you are marketing the best you?

Your resume and your career deserve the extra attention.  Recruiting Directors typically spend only fifteen seconds looking at a resume.  That means you have to catch their attention right away.  Now, this doesn’t mean your resume should be on purple paper or cut out in the shape of a star with glitter on it.  Here are a few professional makeover tips for your resume:

1.  Highlight what makes you different, unique, and special

As a professional, your Experience section is the most important part of your resume, so you need to make sure it presents you in the best light.  Recruiting Directors want proof of your success.  When glancing through a pile of resumes, many of them start to look the same.  This is because most candidates make the same mistake over and over again; candidates simply list their job description instead of their job accomplishments. 

The key to a great resume is to focus on your specific accomplishments.  What did YOU do that was unique, special, or different?  What made YOU stand out?  You get accomplishments through numbers, data, and tangible facts.  You want to be as specific as you can in everything you write on your resume.

If Recruiting Directors are seeking a public relations professional, then they want to see what makes you different from all of the other candidates.  Unfortunately, the first bullet point on nearly every resume for a PR professional says:

  •      Wrote news releases

Of course, you did!  You’re in public relations.  This is what Recruiting Directors want to know:

  •      How many news releases did you write?
  •      Were your stories picked up by any local or national media outlets?
  •      Did you win any awards or commendation?  

An accomplishment resume highlights your best qualities and helps you stand out from the crowd.

2.  Draw attention to your best features
Always put the most important information first when you list your experiences and jobs.  Often, people start with the dates:

April 2002 – June 2008, Mobile Airport Authority, Mobile, AL, Director of Marketing

Dates are the least important thing, so they should be listed last.  “Director of Marketing” is an impressive title and should be listed first:

Director of Marketing, Mobile Airport Authority, Mobile, AL, 2002-2008

Begin with what is most important to the reader – either your titles or your company name.  Choose the one that is most relevant, but make sure you keep it consistent throughout the resume. 

Since everyone reads from left to right, you call attention to the most impressive features of your experiences.

3. Drop the excess weight
Unless you have over five years of experience, your resume should be only ONE page.

You may have accomplished a lot, but you only have a limited amount of time to present your message to recruiting directors.  Determine what you want them to know and see in their fifteen-second scan.  In general, that means you should put the greatest emphasis on the most recent and most relevant experiences.

To keep it short, don't use long sentences and paragraphs. Recruiting Directors like it simple: bullets.  You also can expand the margins and use a professional format to maximize space. 

Recruiting Directors don’t want to read a resume novel.  Short and concise writing is more powerful than long, flowery prose.

Highlight your accomplishments, focus on your best features, and trim your content to give your resume a compelling makeover.

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