Take a good hard look at your résumé. Does it seem anemic, bare of detail, empty? Do you think it really “sells” you? Compared to other “Christmas trees” on the lot, who do you think would buy you.
Here are some things you can do to increase your sales appeal if you think your résumé just doesn’t offer the reader enough information.
Add a “Summary of Qualifications. ” Most easily done after you have written the rest of the résumé, the Summary presents an easily grasped overview of your experience. Its length will average from three to four lines to, in certain situations, three or four short paragraphs. Typically it will contain your primary job title, major areas of expertise, years of experience, personal attributes, and your education. (In many ways, it mirrors the structure of an ad you might see for yourself. )
Flesh out your duties and responsibilities. After your job title, add your major areas of responsibility, programs or projects managed, number of employees supervised, major clients, or similar high points of what you do. But don’t go overboard: your description usually need be only two to four lines in length.
Add bulleted achievements. Virtually all of us have done many things worthy of highlighting on a résumé. Some overlooked areas of achievement include … participation in major team projects or company growth … man-hours or money saved … attendance records … awards … civic activities … additional education … and many more. (HINT: Ask yourself what problem you solved, what action you took to solve it, and what the result was. Then shape your answers into a concise achievement; e. g. , “Saved company over $500,000 per year by increasing inventory turns three-fold. ”)
Add more numbers. Although adding achievements is a must, adding numbers to those achievements—as in the example above—is just as important. Numbers make it easy to compare your efforts to industry or individual norms. (TIP: Taking care to be honest, always make your numbers as impressive as possible. For example, “Saved over $600,000/year” has more impact than “Saved over $50,000/month” even though it means the same thing. )
Add a one-line description of your employer(s). Readers appreciate knowing a little about your employer because for whom you worked often confirms your marketability. For example: ABC Widgets, the largest U. S. manufacturer of widgets, has 600 employees and annual revenues of over $50 million. A good place to insert the description is right below or after your company’s name.
Add more keywords. More and more companies today are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) when scanning incoming or posted résumés for appropriate candidates. ATS users type in keywords that specify what sort of expert they need. For example, if seeking a computer programmer, they might scan for terms like “ASP, HTML, COBOL, OS/400” in addition to other programmer attributes needed. So be sure that you have inserted as many keywords symbolic of your experience as possible. [See my article Applicant Tracking Systems: The Jub Hunter's Friend or Foe? for more details. ]
Add hobbies, interests, and affiliations. These too give the reader useful information. Professional association certifications or membership related to your job objective are particularly worthy of mention.
Use a different format, font and point size. If, despite your best efforts, your résumé still looks anemic, try increasing the size of its body text to as much as 12 point and/or increasing the width of the margins to as much as 1.25 inches. Remember, of course, to use bold and italics where warranted.
Your résumé can be “one of the best trees on the lot” if you put your mind to it!
About the Author: Pierre G. Daunic, Ph. D. , CCM, is a Senior Services Consultant with R. L. Stevens & Associates. http://interviewing.com/
About the Company: R.L.Stevens & Associates, Inc. is the nation's most successful privately-held career marketing firm for over 24 years. R. L. Stevens & Associates specializes in professionally-run executive career searches generating quality interviews through both advertised and unadvertised channels.