Resume Success Factors - What Exactly Is A Resume Anyway? by Peter Hill

You know you're good... real good. The problem, though, is that you are struggling to demonstrate just how good you are on paper.

Ah... the resume. If you've ever written one you know what a challenging task it can be. The Gregg Reference Manual tells us some fundamental facts about resumes:

The purpose of your resume is to get you an employment meeting. An interview. Your resume will not get you a job.

Your resume is not a medium for telling prospective employers about your long-term goals and aspirations. It is where you appeal to their hiring motivations by demonstrating what you can do for them, communicating the experience you have acquired and skills you have developed.

With these basic concepts in mind, let's summarize several other elements that your contemporary resume must include:

R = Review of your qualifications
E = Essential information only
S = Showcase your value
U = You are Unique!
M = Market yourself
E = Effectively gets you noticed

R = Review of your qualifications

What skills, education, or experience (paid or unpaid) do you have that make you the ideal candidate for the opportunity, industry, or career you are pursuing? These data bits are the building blocks of any resume. They are absolute musts.

Most self-written resumes do a pretty decent job of listing skills and education, but fail miserably in the Experience section. More on how to address this challenge when we get to the "S" below.

E = Essential information only

Your resume should not be a voluminous listing of everything you have done, everywhere you have done it, and every club or association you've ever been affiliated with. Chisel your copy down to content that is relevant to your target job/career path.

Suppose you are a marketing professional. Your memberships in the American Marketing Association, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Public Relations Society of America belong on your resume.

Your memberships in the local dog trainers club and the American Dog Owners Associaiton can clearly be left off (unless you are applying for a marketing position with the Humane Society).

S = Showcase your value

Value. Employers want to know specifically what value you can bring to their organization. If you earn an hourly wage, you are not paid by the hour -- you are paid by the VALUE that you bring to that hour. If you are salaried, you don't get paid by the month -- you are compensated for the VALUE that you bring to that month.

One of the most effective ways to communicate value on your resume is to address the burning question, "Why should we hire you?" You must identify what specific contributions (that is, verifiable accomplishments) you have made at previous employers. This critical information is proof that you can do the same at your next job.

Showcasing you unique accomplishments is simultaneously simple and complex. It is simple because the best contributions are somehow related to the bottom line (money, profits). The challenge lies in how to reframe what you've done relative to increased profits, reduced costs, or productivity enhancements.

How can your resume show that you've helped previous organizations solve a specific problem, be more competitive, expand business, attract new customers, or retain existing ones?

U = You are Unique!

Your resume must be unique in content and in format. The information will be unique because, as mentioned above, you will have pinpointed those accomplishments that will set you apart from other applicants.

Unique formatting means not using those templates that came packaged with your word-processing software! A cookie-cutter resume will not do justice to you or your career. Bookstores are full of excellent resources with samples of compelling resumes to ignite your creativity.

M = Market yourself

A superior resume utilizes proven marketing concepts such as headlines (rather than boring objective statements). It stresses the benefits you have to offer (how you can contribute), not just features (what you were responsible for).

Catch the attention of prospective employers on the first page with a powerfully written Profile or Qualifications Summary. Resumes are initially scanned for roughly 15 to 30 seconds. If you've lost the reader's interest at the top of the first page, he/she will not read further. Your resume will go in the "no" pile.

E = Effectively gets you noticed

There is no such thing as a "good" or "bad" resume. There are only "effective" or "ineffective" ones. By weaving the concepts above into your resume, you can increase your odds of getting noticed by those with the authority to recommend you for the next step in the hiring process -- a telephone, teleconference, or in-person interview.

You know you're good...real good. You are now challenged to prove it on your resume.

Peter Hill is President of Distinctive Resumes in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and is nationally recognized as an expert resume strategist. Peter publishes "Career Brainfood," a monthly career-related e-mail newsletter. He can be contacted through his Web site, [the website cannot be found].

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