Your resume is your first and most important marketing tool, and if it doesn’t get you in the door, there is little else that will. And provided it does get noticed, you have only a few seconds to create enough interest to make sure busy recruiters read on. So how can you make yourself stand out from all the other applicants for the job you want? Your secret weapon: Pizzazz of presentation highlighting a concise summary of qualifications that sells your value to potential employers.
Before we get into how to craft an irresistible summary of qualifications, here are some tips for building a resume that works:
Appearance – Eyes tend to skip over anything optional, too complicated or messy. One resume in a big pile is definitely optional, so it’s worth it to spend as much time formatting your resume as writing it. Make it look clean, spare, balanced and easy to read. Short paragraphs are a must.
Writing – Emphasize important points with a vivid verb or noun instead of an adjective. It packs more punch and side-steps sales resistance. For example, if you want to convey in your summary that you are persistent and have great problem-solving skills, write “Solve problems with persistence and originality.”
The clincher — adding the Pizzazz!
The best way to create an effective summary of qualifications begins with reading the job posting. Make notes every time you find yourself thinking, “I can do that with my hands tied behind my back,” or, if you’re changing fields or responsibilities, “My experience is directly related to this!” Those are things you want to put in your summary.
Next, gather new ideas — think about job reviews and other types of feedback you’ve received, including things people have said about your personality as well as your professional skills. Brainstorm with friends and co-workers about what they see as your best points.
Then, write a first draft of all those great ideas. You’ll usually start with a couple of sentences, or a paragraph or two for each item. Then start distilling everything again and again until you have a bulleted list of phrases or a set of succinct points.
If you have less than 10 years experience, the rule of thumb is to have no more than 3 bulleted statements in your summary, 6 max if you have to, and the more items you have, the shorter they should be.
Here are some examples (note the use of verbs and nouns)
- Thrive in situations that require flexibility, multitasking and the speedy mastery of new knowledge
- Specialize in creation and implementation of highly complex events, programs and projects
- Skilled in conflict resolution, utilizing the art of reaching true consensus
- Able to quickly organize and implement extremely complex projects, while sustaining ongoing complex and demanding responsibilities
- Able to maintain both a broad scale mental map as well as an awareness of timely details
- Excel at time management, using well defined priorities derived from clear goals and objectives
The best for last
One nice side effect of creating a really terrific resume for each job is discovering that you actually have a lot of reasons to feel very good about your skills and abilities. And a dose of healthy self-confidence is vital to landing that job once your new resume gets you in the door.