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Most people, no matter what job they seek or how long they've been part of the working world, make the same mistake when it comes to the résumé-writing process. They forget -- or simply don't know how -- to develop their résumé from the employer's point of view.
"Employers want to know several things about you within seconds of glancing at your résumé. Your job, then, is to be hit-them-over-the-head obvious about who you are, what job you're seeking and what you have to offer them," says Louise Kursmark, a certified professional résumé writer and author of "30-Minute Résumé Makeover."
When sifting through résumés, most employers and recruiters know exactly what they're looking for. According to Kursmark, résumés that meet their expectations are ones that respond to all nine of the following questions:
Who are you?To determine how well your résumé addresses this, Kursmark suggests having friends or colleagues read it. Within five seconds of them looking at the résumé, snatch it back from them and quiz them on what they know about you as a job seeker based on what they read. If they can't offer a quick answer that truly describes you, your résumé's summary needs some work.
What can you do for me? The most effective way to show employers the value you offer is to show them how you've contributed to an employer's success elsewhere. Kursmark says that to be truly compelling, these examples must be specific, measurable accomplishments that cite numbers and other details.
Do you have the skills I'm looking for? Scan job ads and job descriptions to discover which skills are most relevant to the employers and recruiters receiving your résumé. Then strategically place them throughout your résumé to ensure it makes it past computer scans and into the hands of employers and recruiters.
Where have you worked before? This one should be simple. Employers want to know where you worked, for how long and which job titles you've held that may indicate how prepared you are for a role at their organization.
Is your experience relevant to my needs? Sometimes it's necessary to expand upon a job title or job description to truly demonstrate that you have experience that applies to the job you're seeking. Consider using bullets to present brief and interesting information that is relevant to the employer.
Do you have the right education and credentials? If you have the education, credentials and training needed to qualify for the job, be sure to say so! Use commonly accepted terminology and keywords in this section to ensure your information isn't misinterpreted or overlooked by employers or résumé scanners, Kursmark says.
What kind of person are you? "Adding insightful information about what makes you special can be a definite plus on your résumé and help decision-makers discriminate between you and another candidate, even before you've met in person," Kursmark says. She suggests including "extras," such as a branding statement and relevant information about foreign languages you speak, computer proficiencies or activities you enjoy.
Do I see any "red flags" in your background? Gaps in employment (an indication of job hopping), spending too much time in the same job or résumé errors may alert employers and recruiters that you are not the type of candidate they're looking for in their organization. To avoid drawing attention to "red flags" on your résumé, make sure you make your accomplishments and skills stand out as strongly as possible.
Can I easily get in touch with you? After all your hard work in putting together a powerful résumé, don't forget the essentials! It doesn't matter how great your résumé is, if you don't include a phone number, address and e-mail address somewhere on the résumé, you'll never hear from the employer or recruiter. Just be careful not to include too much contact information. This can be overwhelming for people wanting to know that the number they call first is the one that puts them directly in touch with you.
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. Her articles help people find meaningful work, develop their career and life plans, and carry out effective job search campaigns.
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