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10 Steps to a Killer Resume

10 Steps to a Killer Resume

By Louise Fletcher | HRPeople

August 11, 2009

You know the feeling. You spend hours, or even days, creating a resume. You pore over every word of your cover letter and agonize over what to say in your email. Then you hit ‘send’ and wait. And wait. And wait. No one calls. No one writes. You don’t know if anyone even saw your resume. When this happens, it’s easy to get dejected and worry that employers are not interested in you. Don’t! Remember, they haven’t met you. They have only seen your resume and that may be the problem.

If you’re not getting the response you want, try this ‘10 Step Program’ to get your resume working for you.

1. Is your resume the right length?

You may have heard that your resume should fit on one page. This is nonsense. Recruiter or hiring managers don’t care if your resume is one or two pages long. But they do care whether it is easy to read and gives key information upfront. Your resume can be one, two, or (occasionally) even three pages. If in doubt follow the (very general) rule of thumb that less than 5 years experience probably only requires one page and more than that may need two.

2. Does your resume clearly position you as someone who can meet the needs of the employer?

Think of a resume as an advertisement for a product, only this time the product is you. Positioning is everything. The person who receives your resume will scan it quickly ­ perhaps for no more than 20 seconds ­ to determine whether you can help the company. Your job is to say quickly, clearly and loudly that you can!

Don’t just launch into a chronology of your career history. Instead spell out your message at the start of the resume in a profile section which highlights your key strengths in an attractive, easy-to-read format.

3. Does your resume begin with an objective?

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Recruiters and hiring managers don’t like resume objectives because they focus on the needs of the job seeker rather than the needs of the potential employer. Consider this objective statement:

Seeking a software engineer position with a progressive employer where I can contribute to the development of new technologies and work with bright, committed people.

This may be honest but it is irrelevant to the reader, who does not care what you want and only cares what you have to offer. Instead of an objective, use a positioning statement that clearly and concisely explains what you have to offer.

Senior Software Engineer with 10 years experience developing leading-edge technologies.

Now the reader can immediately see your value. (For even greater impact, tailor this statement for each position to highlight the match between the company’s needs and your skills.)

4. Have you outlined achievements as well as responsibilities?

Most employers already know what the main responsibilities of your job were. They want to know what makes you different from all the other applicants. An effective resume summarizes job responsibilities in a few sentences and then focuses on providing information about quantifiable achievements.

NEXT: Steps 5-10

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