Resume Writing


Your Resume is Your Personal Sales Brochure

  • Have you bought a car because it had a great sales brochure?
  • Have you bought a vacation package because of the sales brochure?
  • Did you buy a house because of a sales brochure?
  • Do you think an employer hires someone because of their resume?
  • Did Betty have a resume before getting hired? Read her story on How Employers Want to Hire if you haven’t yet.

You probably said “no” to each of these questions. A resume by itself won’t get you a job. But it can get you in the door or keep you from getting in the door for an interview.

As a sales brochure, the resume should stimulate buyer (employer) interest enough to get them to consider hiring you. In other words, its main purpose is to help you secure an interview, which is where you will sell yourself.

In order for that to happen, your resume needs to do several things:

  1. Demonstrate that you have the skills, experience and qualities that are needed for their particular job opening.
  2. Demonstrate that you can deliver business benefits to the employer.
  3. Differentiate you from the many other candidates that they are considering.
  4. Get them excited about you as a candidate and motivate them to want to know more.

There are many ways to create an effective resume. There are multiple formats and styles that are acceptable. However, there are some common guidelines that you will want to follow. These are based on my learning from Right Management, one of the world’s leading career transition firms, where I conducted more than 30 career transition workshops and worked with hundreds of people on resume development.

General Guidelines

  • A resume is an advertisement or personal brochure, not a technical spec or proposal!  Keep it short (two pages maximum).
  • Emphasize your key personal brand attributes, not your career history:
    • What you can accomplish for a potential employer (business benefits).
    • Your key skills.
    • Your personality
    • Your passion and motivation.
    • Your past employers.
    • Your education.
  • Communicate business benefits and accomplishments, not just activities. Quantify where possible. Don’t cut and paste your job description.
  • Your resume should have a theme that starts with your career summary and is supported throughout.
  • Avoid using long paragraphs, long sentences or large blocks of text. Leave plenty of white space.
  • Use action verbs. Avoid weak verbs and phrases such as “helped,” “supported,” “was involved in,” and “coordinated.” Begin summary and accomplishment statements with a verb.
  • Make it easy for someone to scan and pick up key points in less than a minute.
  • For electronic communication, put it in a PDF format. For printed distribution, use a simple, clean format on plain white paper. Avoid italics, underlining, complex fonts and textured paper.
  •  Always tell the truth!
  • Customize it for markedly different employers or positions.
  • Emphasize (give detail) your experience for the past 10-12 years.
  • Do not include personal information (e.g. height, weight, marital status, and race).
  • Don’t use personal pronouns (I, we, they, and you).
  • Use past tense.
  • Spell out acronyms.
  • Include key words that employers look for in their screening.
  • Use reel good. gramer, spellin and punctuation.” Seriously, proofread it carefully! Use spell and grammar check on your computer. Also have a friend or family member read it.

Download the Resume Guide

Just for Fun: Do You Believe People Actually Said This?!

These are taken from resumes and cover letters that were printed in the July 21, 1997 issue of Fortune Magazine: The spelling is exactly the way it appeared in the magazine.

  1. “I demand a salary commiserate with my extensive experience.”
  2. “I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreadsheet progroms.”
  3. “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
  4. “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”
  5. “Wholly responsible for two (2) failed financial institutions.”
  6. “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”
  7. “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
  8. “Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”
  9. “You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.”
  10. “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
  11. “I was working for my mom until she decided to move.”
  12. “Marital status: single. Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No commitments.”
  13. “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”
  14. “I am loyal to my employer at all costs…Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voice mail.”
  15. “I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.”
  16. “My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meterology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”
  17. “I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.”

Click here for a sample Director or General Manager resume

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