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How to Construct a Dynamite Resume

How to Construct a Dynamite Resume

The Perfect World

·    In a perfect world, no one would need a resume. The candidate most suited to a particular job would simply be summoned forth to interview, based on their reputation, word of mouth, and recruiter referral. Employers would carefully make their hiring decisions based on the candidate’s verbal account of their past performance, without regard to any kind of written documentation. Moreover, companies would grow and prosper, having selected only the best and brightest from a large pool of qualified talent.

Reality

·    Employers are so inundated with resumes it often takes weeks, or even months to sort through them all to identify the candidates they deem qualified.

·    Despite the administrative headaches and delays caused by processing resumes, companies rely heavily on the resumes they receive to screen for potential candidates.

·    Given the choice of two candidates of equal ability, hiring managers will generally prefer to interview the one with the most artfully constructed and attractive resume.

·    Candidates with superb qualifications are often overlooked. Companies often end up hiring from a more shallow pool of talent; a pool made up of those candidates whose experience is represented by powerfully written, visually appealing resumes.

·    In today’s competitive employment market, your resume has to stand out in order to get the attention of the decision maker and create a strong impression. In addition, when you meet the prospective employer face to face, a strong resume will act as a valuable tool during the interviewing process.

Truth in Advertising

·    The best way to prepare a dynamite resume is not to change the facts – just make them more presentable. This can be accomplished in two ways:

·    By strengthening the content and accomplishments in your resume and enhancing its appearance.

·    By writing your resume for the prospective employer, not for you. Its main purpose, once in the hands of the reader, is to answer the following questions:

o  How do you present yourself to others?

o  What have you done in the past?

o  Moreover, what are you likely to accomplish in the future?

Ten Keys to “A Dynamite Resume”

·    Clarity of dates and place: Document your work history accurately and chronologically. Don’t leave the reader guessing where you were employed, or for how long. If you’ve had overlapping jobs, find a way to pull them apart on paper, or eliminate mentioning one, to avoid confusion.

·    Position title and job description: Provide your title, plus a detailed explanation of your daily activities and measurable results. Since job titles are often misleading or their function may vary from one company to another, your resume should tell the reader exactly what you’ve done.

·    Proportion: Give appropriate attention to jobs or educational credentials according to their length or importance to the reader. For example, if you wish to be considered for a position at a bank, don’t write one paragraph describing your current job as a loan officer, followed by three paragraphs about your high school summer job as a lifeguard.

·    Relevancy: Confine your curriculum vitae to that which is job-related or clearly demonstrates a pattern of success. For example, it is not pertinent that your hobby is spear fishing, that you weigh 137 pounds, or that you belong to an activist youth group. Concentrate on the subject matter that addresses the needs of the employer.

·    Explicitness: Leave nothing to the imagination. Don’t assume the resume reader knows, for example, that the University of Indiana you attended is in western Pennsylvania, that a “M.M.” is a Master of Music degree, or that your current employer, U.S. Computer Systems, Inc., supplies the fast-food industry with order-taker headsets.

·    Length: Fill up two or three. If you write more than three pages, it may send a signal to the reader that you can’t organize your thoughts or you’re trying too hard to make a good impression. If your content is strong, you generally won’t need more than two to three pages.

·    Spelling, grammar and punctuation: Create an error-free document that is representative of an educated person. If you’re unsure about the correctness of your writing (or if English is your second language), consult a professional writer or copy editor. At the very least, use a spell-check program if you have access to a word processor and always proofread what you’ve written.

·    Readability: Organize your thoughts in a clear, concise manner. Avoid writing in a style that’s either fragmented or long-winded. A resume has never won a Nobel Prize for literature; however, an unreadable resume will virtually assure you of starting at the back of the line.

·    Overall appearance and presentation: Select the proper visual format, type style and stationery. Resume readers have become used to a customary and predictable format. If you deviate too much, or your resume takes too much effort to read, it will probably end up in the trash, even if you have a terrific background.

Building a Stronger Case

·    Emphasize key areas: To get the most mileage out of your resume, you’ll want to emphasize certain aspects of your background. By doing so, you’ll present your qualifications in the most favorable light, and help give the employer a better understanding of your potential value to his or her organization.

·    Professional achievements of particular interest to your reader: For example, if you’re in programming, the first thing a hiring manager will want to know is your technical skills, and how it ranks with your peers. If you’ve won awards, or reached goals, let the employer know. If you’re in management, let the reader know the number of people you supervise, and what their titles are.

·    Educational accomplishments: List your degree(s) and/or relevant course work, thesis or dissertation, or specialized training. Be sure to mention any special honors, scholarships or awards you may have received, such as Dean’s List, Cum Laude, or Phi Beta Kappa.

·    Additional areas of competency: Examples of other competency areas might include: computer software fluency, dollar amount of monthly raw materials purchased, or specialized training.

·    Professional designations that carry weight in your field: If you’re licensed or certified in your chosen profession or belong to a trade organization (such as MCSE, CNE or EDP), by all means let the reader know.

·    Success indicators: You should definitely include anything in your past that might distinguish you as a leader or achiever.

·    Related experience: Anything that would be relevant to your prospective employer’s needs. For example, if your occupation requires overseas travel or communication, list your knowledge of foreign languages. If you worked as a co-op student in college, especially in the industry you’re currently in, let the reader know.

·    Military history: If you served in the armed forces, describe your length of service, branch of service, rank, special training, medals and discharge and/or reserve status. Employers generally react favorably to military service experience.

·    Security clearances: Some industries place a premium on clearances when it comes to being hired or promoted. If you’re targeting an industry such as aerospace or defense, give your current and/or highest clearable status and whether you’ve been specially checked by an investigative agency.

·    Citizenship: This should be mentioned if your industry requires it. Dual citizenship should also be mentioned, especially if you think you may be working in a foreign country.

Resume Objectives

·    Most employers find that a carefully worded statement of purpose will help them quickly evaluate your suitability for a given position. An objective statement can be particularly useful as a quick-screen device when viewed by a manager responsible for staffing several types of positions. (“Let’s see; accountants in this pile, programmers in that pile, plant managers in that pile...”)

·    While a stated objective gives you the advantage of targeting your employment goals, it can also work against you. A hiring manager who is hard pressed for time will often overlook a resume with an objective that doesn’t conform to the exact specifications of a position opening. That means that if your objective reads, “Vice President position with a progressive, growth-oriented company,” you may limit your options and not be considered for the job of Regional Manager for a company in a mature market -- a job you may enjoy and be well suited to.

·    If you’re sure of the exact position you want in the field or industry you’re interested in, then state it in your objective. Otherwise, broaden your objective or leave it off the resume.

Summary or Chronological resume format?

·    The summary (or functional) resume distills your total work experience into major areas of expertise and focuses the reader’s attention on your accumulated skills.

·    The chronological resume presents your skills and accomplishments within the framework of your past employers. (Actually, it should be called a reverse chronological resume, since your last job should always appear first.)

·    Although the information you furnish the reader may essentially be the same, there’s a big difference in the way the two resumes are constructed, and the type of impact each will have. Our experience has shown that the chronological resume brings the best results, since it’s the most explicit description of the quality and application of your skills within a specific period.

·    The summary resume, on the other hand, can work well if you’ve changed jobs or careers often, and wish to downplay your work history and highlight your level of expertise. If a prospective hiring manager is specifically interested in a steady, progressively advancing employment history (as most are), then the summary resume will very likely work against you, since the format will seem confusing, and might arouse suspicions as to your potential for longevity. However, if the employer’s main concern is your technical or problem-solving ability, the summary resume could serve your needs just fine.

Beware of Artificial Fillers and Additives

·    Salary history or salary requirements There is not a good reason to mention your past, current or expected salary on your resume, as this is too limiting. If you see a classified advertisement that says, “Only resumes with salary history will be considered,” don’t believe it. If your resume is strong enough, you’ll be contacted. Once contacted, be forthright about present income and leave desired income wide open for discussion. If working through a recruiter your job is easier; they are skilled in the art of negotiation and can often gain you a competitive offer.

·    References If you have high-impact or well-known professional references, it is acceptable to add a separate addendum to your resume. Do not use the cliché of “References: Available upon Request” as that is a given in any hire. Always avoid personal references like your minister or your attorney. However, having professional and managerial references that will respond favorably are crucial.

·    Superfluous materials When submitting a resume, avoid enclosing such items as your thesis, photos, diplomas, transcripts, product samples, newspaper articles, blueprints, designs or letters of recommendation. You can use these props during your interview, but not before. The only thing other than your resume that’s acceptable is your business card.

·    Gimmicks Excessive formatting, icons and font changes are distracting and do not scan well into resume databases. Avoid overly busy formats so you can be easily found and contacted for positions.

·    Personal information Leave out unneeded personal information, such as, “married, two children, willing to relocate, excellent health.” By listing your Masonic affiliation, right-to-life activism, or codependency support involvement, you could give the employer a reason to eliminate you based on these activities.

Summary

·    Remember, the greater the relevancy between your resume and the needs of the employer, the more seriously your candidacy will be considered.

·    The keys to a dynamite resume are complete accurate content and appropriate professional appearance.