Friday, September 18, 2009

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 2)

I have seen many hundreds of resumes during my career in human resources. Very nice, competent, and well intending people sometimes sent resumes in which they made one or more “little” mistakes. Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, how many resume mistakes does it take to prevent getting a job? Many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to such mistakes on a resume. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes.

Tip: Resume cover letters must communicate. Review your letter to be sure it does the following:


  • Makes the case that you are the solution to the employer’s problems.
    Gets to the primary subject quickly.
  • Solidly connects employer’s job requirements with your background and experience.
  • Is written such that all sentences and paragraphs are short and easy to read.
    Makes a solid connection with the needs of the prospective employer.
  • Has repeated use of the word “you” (i.e., remember that the theme of your resume is what you can do for them, not the other way around).
  • Minimizes number of fonts used. One is preferable to me, with sparing use of italics and “bold.”
  • Uses a clear and easy to read font that is no smaller than a size “10” or “11.”
  • Makes a simple but clear case that you would like to work for them.
  • Expresses a reason why they should contact you.
  • Factors in a reason to act sooner rather than later.
  • Starts the letter by stating your conclusion upfront.
  • Supports your position by presenting a quantifiable objective(s) and briefly mentions why is/are relevant.
  • Restate major conclusion in a sentence or two at end of letter.
  • Makes it easy to reach you: provides multiple ways that you can be contacted (i.e., home telephone, email, street address, and/or cell number at minimum).
Tip: If in doubt, keep it simple. Use an English word equivalent rather than French or Latin terms, and single-syllable words rather than multi-syllable terms. Examples include: “per day” instead of “per diem,” “per year” instead of “per annum,” “essential” instead of “sine qua non,” “genuine” instead of “bona fide.” An exception is if such terms are common in your industry.

Tip: Use specific, measurable terms versus those that are unclear. Examples: “we received numerous inquiries,” versus “we received 170 inquiries.”

Tip: Eliminate use of repetitive and unnecessary words. Example #1: “assisted in the preparation of…,” versus: “assisted in preparing.” Example #2: “responsible for the directing of…,” versus “directed.”

Tip: Use first-person and second-person words (e.g., "I", "we," "my," "our," "you," "your," "yours," etc.), as appropriate, to personalize your resume and cover letter.

Tip: Sometimes it is possible to be too familiar with a document to see it objectively. Consider having someone else review your resume for you, such as a close friend or family member.

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