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Write Your Resumé the Easy Way

And Increase Your Chances of Getting That Dream Job

by Donna Rickerd

I can't think of anyone who enjoys writing their resume (even if they enjoy talking about themselves for hours on end!) For many, writing a resume conjures up visions of tortuous self-searching, intermittent pad scratching, scanning piles of “example” resumes, and continuous rewriting, all the while struggling to stay abreast a paper ocean. The frustrating finale? After all that hard work, chances are slim for getting an interview.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can be the one employers call, signficantly increasing your chances of getting that dream job. All you need to know are a few easy secrets. To start, consider these little known facts:

A resume is not just a biographical work history. It is a highly effective marketing tool, and many underestimate its importance. Contrary to popular belief, resumes aren't like plastic widgets, in that they are all the same. Suppose XYZ company is looking to hire an electrical engineer. A hundred electrical engineers eagerly apply for the position. Submitting a generic resume or one similiar to those of other engineers, is not going to do much to put you on top. Your resume needs to be custom-made and tailored for the job—just like you.

The average amount of time an employer spends reviewing a resume, even when screening resumes for Chief Executive Officer, is only 15-20 seconds. Does this surprise you? Admit it, the personnel manager at Diva Stripes would rather browse Cosmopolitan, not your resume. Faced with a threatening pile of papers, the weeding out process makes short shrift of those who imagine their labored histories will be appreciated. Your resume must make a strong impression in a short amount of time. It needs to be an effective, easily read product brochure, the “product” being your experience, achievements, and abilities. Remember: out of 100 resumes, only 10 percent will get an interview.

The goal of your resume is to get you an interview, not to be a chronology of your work history. To achieve this in today's competitive job market, it needs to be strong, clear, and focused. It should motivate employers to want to meet you and discuss employment possibilities, not be a file for future reference or meat for the paper shredder.

Finally, your resume is an integral part of your total presentation. Think of it as “you” on paper. Even after the interviewing process, it continues on the job, arguing your case. In the final decision making process, employers review and evaluate all candidates. Your resume will be your last and most powerful advocate.

So how do you go about writing this interview winner?

Step One
First, determine the kind of position you want. This is called your job “objective.” Be realistic, but don't censor yourself by thinking you don't qualify for what you really want. When you decide on the kind of position you're looking for, you can focus your resume to reach that goal. This is called “targeting your resume.” For example, don't write “a position in finance” or “human relations” or “marketing.“ Be as clear as possible. If not sure, ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” Then, “Where do I want to do it, and at what level of responsibility?”

For example, you might decide on a “position as editorial assistant in book publishing” or an “entry-level position in financial analysis with a major financial institution.” Don't skip this step. Without a clear objective, your resume lacks focus, and your writing will have no direction. Remember that people who take the longest time to find a job are often the ones who insist on telling everything they ever did, or mentioning every skill they'd like to use, hoping the employer will figure out what they want and where to put them. With this tactic, the usual place their resume lands is not the hiring manager's desk but the paper shredder.

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