Posted Sept. 29, 2008 -- There's no question that your resume is a vital tool in any job search. Unfortunately, some job seekers' run-of-the-mill resumes actually hurt their chances of finding the right job. If you have had the same resume for a long time and just are not getting the response you had hoped for, it might be time for a "resume makeover." Here are five resume makeover tips that might put you back on the right path.
1. Think about your target audience
A resume is nothing more an advertisement. What are you trying to sell? Yourself. The first thing advertising executives do when selling a new product is identify the target audience. When revamping your resume, this should also be your first step. Make sure each resume you send is customized to the position and the company's needs. If you are seeking a marketing position and the company has indicated it wants to hire someone with market research experience, make sure you highlight that. Make it easy for the company.
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2. Make sure you have the right type of resume
There are two types of resumes: functional and chronological. While most people are familiar with chronological resumes, which include qualifications listed by past employer in reverse chronological order, you may want to consider a functional resume instead. Chronological resumes are best suited for those with a good amount of experience or individuals on a standard career path. Functional resumes highlight your abilities rather than your work history and work well for those who are re-entering the workforce, transitioning to a new field, or have frequently changed jobs.
In a functional resume, the main headlines you use are skills and strengths. For example, section headlines for someone looking to break into sales might be "Sales Experience," "Customer Service Skills," and "Managerial Skills." Under each headline, list specific accomplishments and experience from past jobs. Employment history is included in a functional resume, but at the bottom of the page and is limited to company names, job titles and employment dates.
3. Include an objective or skills summary
Like any other sales pitch, your resume needs to gain the reader's attention right away. One way to do this is by telling them who you are right away through an objective or skills summary section. This lets the reader know what you bring to the table, right up front. Consider the following statements:
Objective: To provide a targeted, creative and unique marketing vision in order to increase sales and brand awareness in major consumer markets.
Skills Summary: Highly experienced, talented and dependable sales manager with more than 10 years experience in the retail marketplace. Skilled in all aspects of retail management, including customer service, inventory control, employee management and accounting.
Both of these introductory statements set the reader up for what is to come next. Another idea to consider is following up your introduction statement with a bulleted list of skills or core competencies. Think about the skills you have gained from your experience and list those at the top of your resume.
4. Focus on accomplishments, rather than job duties
It is important to use your resume to demonstrate how you can benefit the company and illustrate how you have benefited other organizations or solved problems in the past. Include a brief one or two sentence description of your job responsibilities, but then focus on specific accomplishments. Instead of saying "wrote press releases and company materials," tout your value by telling the reader that you "developed media materials that resulted in nationwide media coverage."
5. Add some hard data
Anyone can say that they were successful at a job, but not everyone has the numbers to back up their claims. Including evidence - numbers, dollar amounts, or other hard data - will make you stand out from the crowd. Take a look at the following two resume statements:
A. Developed plan for new warehousing system that saved the company time and money.
B. Developed and implemented warehousing system that saved company more than $500,000.
Option A provides an accomplishment, but option B will gain more attention from a reader, particularly a hiring manager at a company that is interested in cutting costs.
With a little work and attention, your resume makeover can help you go from just another candidate to the candidate at the top of the pack!