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Your Definitive Guide to Resume Writing (Value of $500)

July 21, 2012 7 Comments
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Are you a seasoned professional looking for a transition in your career? Are you a young professional looking to accelerate your leadership development opportunities? Or, are you a recent grad or soon-to-be graduate seeking to work at your dream job?

If you find yourself in any one of these categories, this is a MUST-READ! I assure you’ll find the content of this blog post of inestimable value. My objective is two-fold: provide specific, practical, high-impact tips on how to immediately enhance your resume and demystify what it takes to build an effective resume.

In fact, in the last month, I have invested around $500 worth of value to initiate this resume makeover project (which included a personal interview, purchase of his new ebook on resume writing) with Steven Provezano, a leading resume expert who has more than 20+ years in career marketing and resume writing. Not only has he been featured extensively in WSJ, CNN, CNBC, Chicago Tribune, he has written more than 8 publications, personally writing more than 5000 resumes thus far. In another words, there is no leading authority than Steven Provezano. Now, let’s see if this will lead to an interview!

Let’s start with one inconvenient truth about resume writing from Steve: “The best person doesn’t always get the interview. Rather, it is the person who markets their abilities in the most clear, concise and professional manner.” Also, remember that a resume cannot get you a job, only you can do that. But a resume can certainly help you get decent interviews.

Steven’s Tip #1:

“Personal networking is the best way to get a job. Talk with former coworkers and clients, friends and family members, and call target companies directly. Market studies show that 70 to 80% of professionals get their jobs through direct or social networking (i.e., personal referrals, or sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook) about 10% are filled through search firms, 5% through mass mail/email, and only about 5% through the large job boards such as CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com. Still, an excellent resume is essential for all these methods and you should always be prepared: keep five or six resumes in the back seat of your car in 9×12 envelope. Don’t laugh, I found my first Corporate Recruiting job this way. You never know when you’ll need an excellent resume.”

Market Your Abilities

The first and foremost question you must be asking yourself is the following.

What can you do for me?

Why should an employer who has more than hundreds of resume sitting on the desk ever bother to call you? Is this because you have a great work history or the paper color or font you used?

Steven’s Tip #2:“As a busy executive or corporate recruiter, I don’t have all day to read every little aspect about what you think is a great work history. I mostly want to know what you can do for me, in the here and now, for my particular operation. But all you’re telling me with a chronological resume is what you’ve done for someone else.

Essentially, you must tell your story. The resume cannot be just rehashing your work history. Instead, your resume needs to be personal, most relevant, applicable skills and abilities you’ve extracted from your work history, education, internships, volunteer work etc.  Click below to download PDF Version of:

Before vs. After

Essentially, it’s a very conservative one-page resume with poor marketing and real-estate of the white space. Steve immediately pointed out that there was an absence of story. Interesting point!

Steven’s Tip #3:“Do what most people fail to do in their resume: market all your applicable skills developed throughout your life experience, regardless of where or why they were performed, then show how you used them under Employment or Education Sections when possible.”

COMPARISON OF RESUME FORMATS:

Chronological or Reverse Chronological Resume:

  • Two most common types of resumes.
  • Format consists of job descriptions and education (beginning with most recent).
  • Physicians, attorneys, and most senior-level executives with solid work experience may use this.
  • If your most relevant experience was long ago, don’t be afraid to place that at the top.

Functional Resume:

  • Most frowned up resume from an employer perspective because it doesn’t tell them where you’ve been working and they may think you are hiding something about your background.
  • Doesn’t place your skills or achievements in context
  • Best format for emphasizing talents and experience most applicable to the position you’re seeking, regardless of employment background
  • Steve recommends it only to hide major gaps in your history.
  • Useful for homemakers, veterans returning to workforce, those with unsuccessful self-employment experience

Combination Resume:

  • Hybrid of chronological and functional. Extracts the best of both
  • Proven best for Steve’s clients because you can market all your best points of your skills, abilities, and experiences in the Profile/Skill section right up front, then back it up with your work history.

Items You Should Include In Your Resume

  1. Your name, e-mail, address, home address, phone number accurately
  2. Company names and dates
  3. Job titles
  4. Job responsibilities
  5. Licenses and certifications
  6. Education
  7. Patents and publications
  8. Professional groups
  9. Languages

Items You Should Omit From Your Resume

  1. The word Resume at the top of the page or References Available Upon Request at the end
  2. Reason for leaving a job
  3. Salary requirements/ history
  4. Religious or political organizations
  5. Negative information

Steven’s Tip #4:“A resume is all of your positives and none of your negatives. Employers know this as well as you do and the best ones know how to read between the lines. When they do, there must always be truth and substance to your writing. Avoid cliché phrases like ‘seasoned professional’, ‘motivated self-starter’ or ‘displayers warmth and affection for all people.’ Believe it or not, people have used all these phrases on resumes! Omit items if you can or must, but NEVER LIE on your resume. Someday, the lie(s) may catch up with you.”


WRITING AN EFFECTIVE TITLE

A title on the top of your Skill/Profile section is important. This consists of one to four words outlining the general type of work or industry in which you would like to be involved. If you look at my revamped resume, you’ll see my title as Organizational Development and Human Resources Specialist. Having a title gives readers focus by telling where you’re coming from rather than what you want from their company. This will quickly give you direction in your resume.

WRITING EFFECTIVE PROFILE/SKILL SECTION

The Profile/Skill section is used to group all of your best and most currently marketable skills together. These skills are extracted from your past, in some cases, taken out of context and sold to the reader.

Groupings

  • Use bullet points to group like skills together.
  • Accounting talents can be grouped with cost-effective purchasing, along with your knowledge of the software used in your accounting.
  • Sales-related talents go well together: “Account prospecting, acquisition and management”; “Utilize demographic and direct mail sources in new market penetration”
  • People skills should be presented together: “Skilled in staff hiring, training and supervision, group orientation and performance review”; “plan and conduct training programs and seminars”; “assist in staff training and motivation in customer service and sales support.”

Steven’s Tip #5:“Here’s some great sentence starters, phrases, and qualifiers to jump-start your creativity and market your abilities in the Profile section:

  • Proven abilities in (list key areas of your profession) …
  • More than (x) years in (if between 2 and 12 years)…
  • Proficient in…Skilled in…Experience in…
  • Extensive background in (or Qualifications in)…
  • Plan and conduct…Compile and present…
  • Hire, train, and supervise staff in…

Especially for new college graduates, the newly trained or aspiring:

  • Familiar with…Trained in…Education in…
  • Knowledge of…Assist in…


TRICKS OF THE TRADE

  • Use bullet points: make your talents quickly digestible
  • Profile/Skill section is used to make your resume future-oriented, rather than past-oriented
  • To add variety, switch a different bullet in your employment section
  • If your full name has fewer than 15 letters, you can center your name at the top of the page and make it appear larger just by adding a space between letters.

R O B E R T E. J O N E S
rather than
ROBERT E. JONES

  • Margins and Length
    • Margins should be 1 inch all around, but they may be shortened to ¾ inch or widened up to 1.5 inches as need to fit your background neatly on one page, if you don’t have enough information to start a second page.
    • Snail Mail
      • Send a paper resume. This is safe even in the electronic age. In fact, this is a great way to differentiate yourself. When you do, just be sure to send it with a customized, signed cover letter in a 9×12 envelope so it arrives flat and neat.

ADVICE TO NEW COLLEGE GRADUATES

New graduates should take full advantage of such qualifiers as “education in” or “training in” in their Profile/Skill section or Employment section to show a certain level of knowledge in a given area: “Qualifications in human relations and team leadership” or “well-versed in group dynamics and processes” (from fraternities, volunteer groups or projects); “Plan and conduct written and oral presentations in a professional manner; organize meetings, programs and special events” (from class assignments and volunteer/community work).

Although we now focus on executives and professionals, I once wrote a resume for a college graduate who came into my office with the standard new grad’s resume. After a brief Objective, the body of the text began with, you guessed it, his Education. The very first line listed the name of his university and the month and year of his graduation. These resumes always look like advertisements for the school. Like every other new grad’s resume, it cries out to employers: “Help! I just graduated with a zillion other people who have little or no hands-on experience in my chosen field, but hire me anyway!”

If you’re a new college graduate, I implore you to use at least some kind of Profile/Skill section at the top of your resume. Put your lack of “experience” aside and tell the employer what you learned in all those classes you took and in all those volunteer groups, fraternities and special projects. Show how much you know about communication and how you can at least write a resume using powerful, businesslike language.

Following a one- to three-bullet Profile/Skill section, in the Education section mention the subjects and lengths of any term papers related to the profession: “Conducted comprehensive interviews with engineers at the Zion nuclear power plant and wrote a 25-page report detailing safety procedures and apparatus for the prevention of full or partial core meltdowns.” Under the Profile/Skill section, this would be developed as “Plan and conduct detailed research and report writing.”

Dig for any other gems over the past four years: “Trained and supervised student volunteers for a campus recycling program and increased the volume of recycled newspapers by 35 percent”; “Directly involved in [or responsible for] proofreading and editing copy for the 2010 edition of the Campus-Times yearbook.”

Mention your GPA if it’s within one point of a straight-A average: 3.0/4.0 or 4.0/5.0. Be sure to mention whether that applies to your major or overall GPA. Don’t make employers guess! List any other campus activities, but try to avoid listing political groups or other affiliations that may draw the wrath of prejudice. Exceptions include fundraisers involving promotions or other business-like activities where you feel your organizational, communication or leadership talents are worth mentioning, despite the church or political group for which they were performed.

As always, market your skills on top and achievements under positions, then emphasize or downplay their context as needed. You can list relevant course titles, but it’s even more important to include what was actually learned and accomplished. Did you attend extracurricular seminars, lectures or speeches? Conducted by whom and from what profession? Were you a member of business, computer or speech/literature clubs on campus? Was this membership valuable? What was your input? Think about everything you learned in those four years and how it can now be utilized in the everyday working world, because now you will be paid to communicate, analyze, react, manage, think and organize.

Marketing your acquired knowledge and talents as a new college graduate in this unique manner will distance your resume from the typical data sheet resume sent out every year by the millions.

 

PS. Overall, the resume makeover process has been very informative and helpful. Since I was able to blog about his services and post his article I did get a $150 discount from the original price. Steven provides free consultation of your current resume and I would wholeheartedly encourage you to check him out. This is certainly a wise investment that will pay dividends in the future! Best of Wishes!

About the Author:

Paul Sohn is an organizational chiropractor, purpose weaver, and kingdom-minded catalyst. Paul currently serves at The Boeing Company as a LEAN practitioner, providing expertise in continuous improvement initiatives, building high-performing teams and processes to create effective organizations. Paul also serves as an organizational consultant and Board Director at the Portland Leadership Foundation. He is writing his forthcoming book on how to live intentionally as a twenty-something. Paul received a Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of British Columbia in 2010. Above all, Paul’s vision is to turn the world upside down by equipping, connecting, and transforming emerging Christian leaders and organizations.
  • http://www.facebook.com/suchan.lee Suchan Lee

    i’ve always been told that having a title for a resume was bad — makes the resume too specific which would keep it from being considered for other positions. What do you think about that?

  • http://hjkimbrian.blogspot.com/ Brian Kim

    thanks! i feel like this will be a productive weekend with a lot of tweaks to make to my resume.

  • Mary Seo

    Thanks for sharing, Paul!

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaLHenry Joshua L. Henry

    I wish I had this blog post 2 years ago!

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.cheung.jr Peter Cheung

    Hi Paul,

    Don’t think we have ever met even though we went to the same school – thank you for the great insights, I look forward to learning more from your blog.

    *back to resume writing*

    • saia5053

      Hey Peter, thanks for checking out my blog. Hope the lessons were helpful for your own resume writing! Just requested to be your FB friend. Looking forward to connecting with you.

  • Anne Leah

    This is one thing that should be noted when writing a resume. this is just one of the many common mistakes that an applicant could do, professional resume writing Calgary could save you the hassle and the worry of getting those resume written to be the best.