Remodel Your Resume

How does your resume stack up against your competition? If you are not getting calls for interviews, the answer is that it needs some remodeling. Remember that the primary purpose of your resume is to land you the interview. So, it needs to sell you for the specific job for which you are applying. That means highlighting your most relevant qualifications and spelling out why you are qualified. Don’t make them figure it out on their own because most reviewers will just move to the next resume.

Step One: List All Employers and Positions From Most Recent to Oldest. Place a starting and ending month and year for each. Identify the position you held and the name of the organization that employed you. You do not have to put your “official” job title because often these mean nothing outside of the employer. I recommend you use a position title that both describes your primary role and is relevant to the position to which you are applying. For example, I may have been employed as an Analyst III which would be meaningless to a potential employer, so I could list that position as a Computer Analyst or Policy Analyst which would be more meaningful to a potential employer and show relevance to the position for which I am applying.

Step Two: Make a Bullet List of Your Accomplishments at Each Position. For each position listed in Step One, make a bullet list of your accomplishments. This is the key to your success. These should be relevant to the position for which you are applying or should demonstrate some quality that would make you a desirable employee, such as initiative, management, sales, etc. For example, if I were a financial analyst, what accomplishments would a potential employer be most interested in knowing about. They would probably be more interested in knowing that I analyzed and prepared data and report packages for executive presentations rather than than I photocopied and distributed reports. You have to make your experience relevant to what a potential employer is seeking. Reviewers love to see results such as managed a staff of 10 clerks, increased annual sales by 10 percent, or answered 20 support or customer service calls per day. This is your chance to highlight yourself, how do you make yourself stand apart from everyone else? Did you earn awards or recognition? Did you receive a bonus for excellent performance? Tell your story. Let the reviewer know what a difference you made so they begin to see that they would want you to do the same thing for them. Again, keep your bullet list to only the items that are most relevant or most likely to impress a reviewer. Remove the “fluff” by reading each item and asking why would a reviewer care about this statement and either remove it or rewrite it to be relevant.

Step Three: Make a Bullet List of Your Education, Training, Clearances, and Certifications. List all degrees with most recent first and progressing down to the least recent. For each degreee, include the major field of study as well as the institution and its location (e.g., city and state). Do not put your high school diploma on your resume since the education section is primarily dedicated to job-specific training and degrees earned after high school. List any clearances you hold that are relevant, such as a Department of Defense or other government clearance. Next list any certifications that you hold which are potentially relevant to a potential employer. For example, if I were applying for a legal assistant position they probably would not care that I was a certified basket weaver or babysitter. Finally, list any training that you received that is relevant to the position for which you are applying. Remember that the key is relevance. Ask yourself why a reviewer would care that you took a class in applying zen in your workplace. If there is no connection, leave it off the resume and save the space for something that is relevant.

Step Four: Make a Bullet List of Any Publications, Patents, and Special Recognitions. List any publications or presentation you have written or given in journals or conferences. List any patents you hold. List any special recognitions you have received for your performance. Limit these to only those that are most relevant.

Step Five: Write a Summary of Experience. At the top of your resume, you want to include a brief summary of your qualifications. Now that you have listed all the details, it’s time to draft this statement. You can include things your like your total number of years of experience and the number of years of experience with specific skills required for the position for which you are applying. A short paragraph of about 5 or 6 lines should be enough to introduce you to a reviewer and make them want to look at the rest of your resume. It should summarize your qualifications for the job.

Step Six: Putting It All Together. Now it’s time for you to pull it all together and make it look nice. Too many people try to start with this step. You have to worry about the details first. As a reviewer, I would be more likely to select a less formatted resume with better qualifications then a less qualified resume with great design. At the top of the resume you should place your name in a large bold font. On a separate line put your current address. On another line, put a phone number and email address where you can be reached. This should set the top section of your resume. Follow this with the summary you just wrote and label the section Summary or something like that. Immediately after that, add the label Experience and follow that with all of your details for your positions starting with the most recent. Follow that with any other sections you drafted: education, training, clearances, certifications, publications, patents, and special recognitions. You may not have all of these and that is OK, just include sections that are appropriate to you.

Step Seven: Leave It Off. It used to be commonplace to put things like References Available Upon Request at the bottom of your resume. This is assumed now and you can leave that off your resume. Also, do not list any personal characteristics, hobbies, religion, memberships, or other personal items unless they are directly relevant to the position to which you are applying. In today’s world, reviewers don’t want to know this information or have it appear that they would be discriminating based upon knowing it. Everything on your resume should be relevant to the position. If it is not, just leave it off of the resume.

Step Eight: Proofread Your Resume Then Have Someone Else Proofread It Also. I can’t tell you how many resumes I pass over because of typos, misspellings, or other glaring errors. As a reviewer, the message it sends it that you do not pay attention to detail and take no pride in your work. This is your one chance to show the reviewer you are a professional. If you come across as sloppy or careless on your resume, do not expect a call for an interview. These mistakes often speak louder than all of your qualifications on your resume. It becomes how the reviewer remembers you. Your resume must be perfect so do not skip this step. If anything, do it multiple times.

Step Nine: Gather Your References. Put together a listing of three business references, preferable former managers, colleagues or customers. Also, put together a list of three personal references, people you know outside of work who can speak to your character. For each of these six names, make sure you have a current address, daytime phone number, and email address. Make sure you have permission from each to allow you to use them as a reference. This means contacting each of them and getting their permission. Do not use individuals that you believe would not give you a positive reference.

Additional Help. These are the basic steps. I discourage functional resumes because their only purpose is to hide the fact that you are not strongly qualified for the position. You can find some additional resources and books of resume samples in the Resume Remodeler Bookstore.

If you don’t think you can do this yourself and want some professional help, check out special offers from GreatResumesFast.

Sample Resumes. It is always helpful to look at some good sample resumes. Here are links to some ones worth a look.

Resume Samples Link 1. Some good samples from GreatResumesFast