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What are readers looking for in resumes today?

Q. I need help on my resume. I decided to educate myself on “the art of writing a resume.” Well, that was a mistake. I went down to my local bookstore and started looking at resume books. However, by the time I left the bookstore, I was totally confused. All of the books had different formats, different dos and don’ts. It was truly overwhelming. I’ve tried incorporating resume-writing tips from each book I looked through. The question I’d like to ask you is: What are resume readers looking for in resumes today?

A. Fair question. Within the first few seconds, most resume readers want to know three things: (1) Your current or past level (“level” is generally measured in terms of years of experience, title or other responsibility), which may tell the reader how flat or steep your learning and earning curve is; (2) the roles and functions you can perform; and (3) the settings in which you have performed them. If the settings are similar to the company where you’re applying, the staffing people are likely to believe you can repeat your previous triumphs with their company. Past settings in many cases will also reflect the kinds of places in which you want to work.

With all the conflicting points of view that exist out there concerning resume styles, writing a new resume can at times be very confusing and difficult. In a hype-filled world, there is a tendency to confuse the latest with the greatest, and that attitude has been pronounced of late when it comes to effective resume styles. Nevertheless, if I were currently conducting a job search, the only type of resume I would use is an ABR (achievement-based resume). In my opinion, if you’re not using an ABR in this bottom-line oriented job market, you’re spinning your wheels.

The next time you submit your resume to a company or answer a help-wanted ad, create an image in your mind of two piles of resumes sitting atop a hiring manager’s desk. One tall stack consists of hundreds of resumes for which their authors will receive carefully worded rejections (if the company actually acknowledges them at all). The other pile, perhaps less than an inch high, includes correspondence from candidates who are invited to interview.

What gets your resume into this smaller pile to be interviewed is an understanding of what your resume can and can’t do for you. Consider the following: The purpose of your resume is not to tell the reader every detail about yourself or your prior experience. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. When examined in this context, a resume is not a “tell all” document. After all, resumes convey only three types of information: Positive, negative and neutral. By using an ABR format, you will be able to quickly convey positive achievement statements throughout your resume.

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Guest columnist Joe Hodowanes MPA, SPHR is Career Strategy Advisor and President of J.M. Wanes & Associates, Tampa, FL 33688. www.jmwanes.com - Email: jmwanes@jmwanes.com.

This article is reprinted with permission.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007 © CPAmerica International    

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