Five Quick Tips for Creating a Stronger Resume

In today’s intensely competitive job market, a single job posting can attract between 200 to 500 resumes. Out of these, only a handful will be considered for an interview.

Can your resume make the cut?

Most resumes will be instantly dismissed for one of the following reasons: a) they are poorly written; b) they are not focused on the target position; c) they fail to address the employer’s most pressing needs.

The following tips will help your resume stand out from the competition and motivate employers to call you for the interview.

Make your resume visually appealing.

First impressions are the most important. Therefore, make sure your resume is neat, visually appealing, well-organized, and inviting to read. Use an effective balance of short paragraphs, bullet items, white space, and strategically placed words or phrases in boldface.

Think of the person reading your resume. What will it be that motivates him to stop and take a closer look at your resume?

Keep in mind, your resume is a reflection of your professionalism. If it is neat, well-organized, and visually appealing, it shows that you take pride in the quality of your work. On the other hand, if your resume looks like it was thrown together in a hurry, without too much planning, it indicates that you are not too professional about the way you approach your work. So increase your chances right from the start by making sure that your resume makes a great first impression.

Give your resume a clear target.

Don’t let the reader guess what position you’re applying for. Make sure your target position is clearly indicated at the top of your resume.

If you are using your resume to apply for different positions, make several different versions, each for a particular position. This doesn’t mean that you have to re-write your resume each time. Most often, a few simple tweaks to a master version will suffice.

Instead of a using one-size-fits-all resume for all different scenarios, develop a portfolio of targeted resumes and you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your rate of success.

SELL yourself quickly.

Research shows that you have 10 to 15 seconds to grab an employer’s attention and convince him that you’re a worthy candidate for the position.

Showcase your major “selling points” near the beginning of your resume with a summary that captures your strengths and qualifications in a compelling and concise manner. Don’t be afraid to make strong assertions about your capabilities here. Of course, you’ll back these up with accomplishments in the experience section of your resume.

Focus on accomplishments.

Now that you’ve captured an employer’s interest, you must engage his interest throughout the rest of your resume and close the sale, which is, of course, to land the interview.

The best way to do this is to make sure that your resume is driven by accomplishments rather than focused on responsibilities. Identifying your accomplishments can be a tough task, especially if you’ve been in roles behind the scenes for most of your career. But accomplishments are not reserved for sales and marketing people alone. Everyone has them. It’s just a matter of digging beneath the surface of your routine responsibilities to identify specific actions you performed that produced positive results for your employer.

Think about things you might have done to streamline an activity, improve an existing process, save time, or strengthen a customer relationship. Now measure the result. Did it cut costs, increase revenue, or resolve an existing problem? If so, can the results be quantified? Keep drilling down until you get to the core benefit of each accomplishment, being as specific as you can be.

Edit your resume with a critical eye.

Look at your resume with a fresh set of eyes the day after your write it. You’ll probably find that those brilliant sentences that seemed to flow like rich, dark chocolate cascading down the side of a fountain are actually a sticky mess.

Don’t worry, it’s time to edit. Editing is a critical part of every good piece of writing. However, it’s a step that many jobseekers – your competition – will fail to do. So put on your editor’s cap and edit… edit… edit… and edit some more.

Give your resume to someone you can trust for honest, unbiased feedback. Better yet, try to get the opinion of someone you know who has been in a hiring position. Then take this feedback and hone your resume till the words flow onto the page with absolute clarity.

One last thing. Don’t forget to use the spell and grammar check function on your word processor to ensure that your resume is totally free of errors.