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Writing A Killer Resume

Writing A Killer Resume

TrainingPros is grateful to consultant Paula Tarnapol Whitacre, the principal for Full Circle Communications, for her contribution to this important topic – getting noticed with a killer resume. The following excerpt is being provided with her permission and can be found in her popular Ease in Writing newsletter.

“[A few years ago, I wrote an article about resumes.] Now, with unemployment officially below 6 percent and with hiring supposedly on the increase, I decided to revisit the topic to see how resumes have changed in the past few years.

Even if you are not actively job-seeking, you probably need a resume "on hand." For example, I am sometimes asked for one to include in a proposal or for a current client to pass on to someone else within his or her organization. I spoke with two experts. Laura Hosid, career coach at Vinik EPS, specializes in entry-level and younger job-seekers, while most of resume writer/career coach Bettie Biehn's clients at Career Change Central, LLC have more experience or are changing careers.

Here are a few highlights from our conversations.

What To Include

Laura said she advises everyone to keep a master generic resume, "which includes absolutely everything they have ever done and is likely at least two pages as they get more experienced. "Then, when applying to jobs, tailor the resume to the specific position.

Bettie's clients may submit resumes that are longer than a page. Even so, she said, "make sure all the most important or impressive information is on the first page." Her own experience confirms how many resumes a hiring manager scans. How will yours stand out?

Using Social Media

Social media has changed since my last article. Rule #1, of course, is that personal accounts should have privacy settings with questionable posts and pictures removed in case of a slip-up.

Laura's advice for LinkedIn: "I think every job seeker should have an active account with a picture and at least 100 contacts. This is also a place where you can be more comprehensive and include things that may not make it on to a one-page resume. Recommendations are useful, but employers place little or no value on endorsements."

Resumes At Different Levels Of Experience

For entry-level: Laura said, "Remember that 'Experience' doesn't have to be paid. Include volunteer activities, campus leadership positions, on-campus research, etc."

For more experienced: Bettie said, "These resumes can get more complex. Be careful of acronyms and jargon that may arise with more jobs and experience."

Words to Use Or Avoid

Bettie urges clients to cut out extra words for less cumbersome reading. (Note: Take out definite/indefinite articles and words like "that" and "actual." Then read through your revision. If it still makes sense, leave the words out.)

She said professional resume writers often share lists of over-used phrases. A recent list included "results-driven" and "I am honest and ethical" (as she noted, this should a given).

Laura suggested avoiding "responsible for" or "duties included" and using active verbs. Always, she said, quantify your accomplishments as much as possible.

Other Tips

From Laura: Know your industry! If you are applying for a legal job, stick to a basic format with no fancy fonts or designs. If you are looking in a more creative field, it may be okay to be a little less conservative.

In all cases, make sure it is easy to read (she recommends 11 point font or larger), and that an employer can scan the résumé and have the most important features pop out.

From Bettie: Don't "over-bullet." Use bullets for what you want to emphasize, but bullets lose their oomph when over-used.

More generally, focus on your skills and talents. Think about what's important to you, such as the values or the environment of the place where you will work. Your resume will help you get from here to there.

Additional Resources

Both Bettie and Laura have more tips on their websites about resumes, cover letters, and related topics.

Career Change Central LLC (Bettie Biehn)

Vinik EPS (Laura Hosid): Vinik also works with high school students considering options for college, for those who have family members at that stage of life.

Put Your Best Self Forward: A checklist for executive job hunters by management consultant Jackie Eder-Van Hook

Robin's Resumes news: Resume expert Robin Schlinger has articles and tweets related to resume writing, including a series about Applicant Tracking Systems.”


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