It is hard to overcome the desire to send out the same resume to every
position that you apply for, but when it comes down to it, it is just as
important to customize a resume as it is to customize a cover letter.
A resume is your sales tool, in order to make the sale it is important to
make it stand out above the rest. Your resume shows the skills and
experience that you have to offer to help the employer achieve their objective.
A key part to a resume is its format. In most cases, a resume should not
exceed one page, but some senior executives will probably need at least
two pages. Generally, an easy-to-read font like Times New Roman in
10-12 point is standard. Parallel structure keeps the resume flowing.
Bullets or short lists help the readability as long as you stay consistent.
Chronological order is the most frequently used format. This is because
jumping around causes unnecessary confusion. Once you have chosen
your format you can move on to the next step.
One of the most important features of a resume is the positioning statement
or objective. When writing an objective consider including: target field or
industry, desired company size, position level, your unique selling points,
position title and areas of expertise. Vague objectives do not tell the
employer what it is that you are looking for, and, the employer
has to guess what you are looking for. In most cases resumes with
vague statements will be put aside. If you are interested in the company
but do not want to narrow your options by tailoring your statement too
much, you can still create an objective that is unique to the company
and your general goal. Make sure that your objective and work history
show continuity. Your work history should be an indication of your
It is a good idea to use the job description as a guide. Bullets should
represent skills used in previous positions based on the job requirements.
If the given job description is vague, research similar positions to find
possible requirements. It is important to use your resume to show,
not tell. Many firms are looking to see if you can work as an individual
as well as part of a team. Since you cannot say, "Demonstrates the persona
of a team player," it is important to leave clues for the employer. Your
resume should show career and personal progression. Do not leave gaps;
this leaves employers to draw their own conclusions. It is important to
use buzzwords, those words that are industry or job defined that have
special meaning to those within that particular industry or job type.
Try not to overuse these however. Make sure you know what the
words mean. Use titles and headings that match the job that you want.
For example, for accounting/record keeping use management of A/R and
A/P accounts. Specifics sell. Present tangible results of your actions;
explain how your accomplishments related to the company's bottom line.
If you know that the company scans their resumes you should format
your resume for the best results and leave the pretty version for the
interview. It is important to use scannable nouns. Make sure you
are aware of the buzzwords that are used. This is another place where
using the job description as a guide is to your benefit.
It is crucial to proofread a resume. Typos and spelling errors are the
last things that you want on a resume. It will be very difficult for
an employer to overlook an error on a resume; what does that say
about the applicant? Your cover letter entices the employer to read
the resume and the resume opens the door to an interview. It is
important to make an impression with your resume; you are selling a
Contributed by: Shannon Broderick
Public Relations Associate, CPAmerica International, Inc.