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Home > Business > Special

Write a killer resume! Here's how

Tara Weiss, | November 08, 2007

If your resume isn't winning interviews for your dream job, it might be time for a rewrite.

Before you even sit down in front of the computer, consider the type of job you want. Think about the skills you want to use daily, and then determine two or three job titles that encompass them. Also, determine the type of company you want to work for--small or large, private or public -- and the preferred industry.

"If you don't have that in mind, you can't focus and present the information that will get you there," says Louise Kursmark, an executive r�sum� writer and author of several book on r�sum�s. "Everything should be filtered through that lens." Leave items out that don't pertain to your desired position.

The next step is easy: contact info. This might seem obvious, but recruiters report that an alarming number of job applicants don't put their contact information in a prominent location. Many recommend putting it at the top of the r�sum�. Include your address, e-mail and phone number. "I find some in the bottom of the r�sum� or not in the cover letter," says Diane Borhani, head of U.S. campus recruiting at Deloitte & Touche. "It's too much work to search, so we go on to the next r�sum�."

If you're just starting your career and don't have much job experience, include an objective section at the top. For example: "A position as an account executive with a consumer products firm." For those with more than a year in the workforce, a summary is more appropriate. It's broader than an objective--it states what you are looking for and who you are. It might say, "Account executive with a track record of improving business and proven skills in sales." In other words, it's a snapshot of your professional accomplishments.

Speaking of accomplishments, they are what you should focus on in the job history section. It's fine to include a few lines about what you did at work, but the bulk of material should include the things you did that made you stand out. Did you secure several new accounts? Did you have work published? Try to make yourself stand out from other applicants.

"Recruiters know what you do because of your job title," says Kursmark. "Instead of listing your daily tasks, talk about what you did that made your company better or your department more successful. Talk about the unique things you did, so your r�sum� will not be the same as someone who has the same job title."

The r�sum�'s length is a source of conflict. One thing holds true: If the r�sum� exceeds two pages it better be worth it. Don't ramble on--the idea is to keep the r�sum� clear and concise. If your job title is impressive put it in bold. If it's not, but the company you worked for is, put that in bold. The rule of thumb: Only use bold for things you want to stand out. Under the title and company name, use bullet points to explain what you accomplished.

Use keywords--buzzwords--to describe your accomplishments and roles. Not all keywords are the same for all jobs. Therefore, examine five to 10 of the job listings you're applying for and highlight repeated words. Some common words include "leadership," "team player" and "self-starter." Then sprinkle those words throughout your r�sum�.

For those just starting out in the work world, Deloitte's Borhani recommends putting your education section first. List related coursework to the type of job you're seeking, and include your GPA if it's a 3.0 or higher. (Explain if it's cumulative or not.) Also, if you worked to put yourself through school mention that--it shows initiative. Don't mention every waitressing or store clerk position you had from high school and beyond. Only include it if you progressively gained more responsibility.

Borhani's bottom line r�sum� advice: "Keep it short and sweet."

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