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The New Top 5 Resume Writing Rules


10/26/2011 10:59:11 AM

By Don Goodman, Career Coach and Resume Writer

What used to work just doesn't work in this market as the resume writing rules have dramatically changed. Seven years ago, when unemployment was 5% and LinkedIn and other tools weren't prevalent you could get interviews with an older style resume. Today you must follow these 5 rules.

1. Showcase your brand or theme.
The Objective that says "Here is what I want" is dead and replaced with a simple headline like SENIOR R&D PROJECT MANAGER. This must be followed by a well-written description of what you do best (brand) which is designed to differentiate you from the many other candidates.

For example: Corporate Troubleshooter regularly assigned to the most challenging initiatives.

This creates a theme for the rest of the resume so your opening essentially says "Here is what I am best at" and the rest of the resume says "Here is proof that I am good" by showcasing the results you have achieved.

2. Tight Writing
Today's resumes must be tightly written and very succinct. Fluff statements are out and overused phrases like visionary and dynamic are no longer the norm. Your sentences should be to the point and factual.

Example: Pharma Sales Executive charged to drive new business and penetrate existing accounts throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Your resume really doesn't need to go into all the job duties that you performed. So using the sales resume example above, you would not put in such things as called on prospects throughout the territory, attended tradeshows and made presentations as these are the normal tasks that sales professionals do on a regular basis and certainly the employer understands that.

3. Use the Harvard Format
You should also use what's called the Harvard format which means that your roles and responsibilities are in paragraph form and your achievements are in bulleted form which makes it easy for an employer to quickly identify them. Note too that in this day and age, the notion of a one-page resume is a myth and what is most important is that the resume has a compelling story and is easy to read.

Remember that your resume is an advertisement for your skills and is not necessarily a legal document designed to indicate everything you've ever done. Your purpose in the resume is simply to whet their appetite and get them to want to call you for an interview.

4. Support your theme with strong accomplishment statements
You've established a theme and now you have to prove it by showcasing your accomplishments. Make sure your accomplishments are directly relevant to the position you're seeking and supports your theme or brand. So if you are looking for a sales role and you created a database that streamlined the process of ordering office supplies, although that's very nice it's not something that should go on your resume. As much as possible try to quantify your accomplishments and indicate your performance against goals.

In our sales example, stating that you increased revenues $2 million year-over-year is very nice but it really doesn't describe your accomplishments. Saying that you delivered 135% of quota representing a $2 million increase in year-over-year revenues is a much stronger statement.

5. LinkedIn
Recent studies indicate that more than 85% of employers and virtually all recruiters will look for you on LinkedIn before calling you. So make sure that you have your LinkedIn ID on your resume and that your profile is supportive of your overall theme.

Note that if your LinkedIn ID has /pub/ in it with a host of numbers at the end, then you have a temporary ID and you should secure a more appropriate ID by editing your LinkedIn profile and skipping down to the PUBLIC PROFILE edit button in LinkedIn. This is very easy to do and you should try to secure your name.

Follow these rules and you will see a marked difference in the way you resume produces results.

About the Author

Don Goodman, President of About Jobs ( www.GotTheJob.com ) is a nationally recognized Career Coach and Resume Writer. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University's Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Read his blog at www.GotTheJob.com/blog/ or contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at dgoodman@GotTheJob.com.

Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - October 27, 2011.

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