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Secrets of Resume Writing Revealed! 
by E. Rene' Hart, CPRW 

A client of mine telephoned me a few weeks back to let me know that he had landed his dream job as a human resources manager with a well-known company. When I asked him why he sounded so despondent, he explained that after spending the morning reviewing resumes of potential candidates for an outside sales position, he was frustrated that not one of the documents told him what he really needed to know. 

He went on to say that he had created a detailed position announcement outlining the specific qualifications required for the position, but none of the candidates' resumes focused on what they could offer to the company. "Why can't they write like you?" he laughed. "My resume said exactly what I was targeting and what my accomplish- ments had been. My new boss is STILL talking about how great my resume is!" 

Many job seekers miss the mark when creating their resumes, because they don't focus on building a resume that will meet the needs of their audience: the prospective employer. How can you make sure that your resume will get read? Here are some tips: 

  • Before putting a single word to paper, take a few minutes to outline what it is that the prospective employer is seeking. If you're in sales, he wants to know how much revenue you generated, how many new clients you brought in, how large your territory is and so on. If you're an executive assistant, he wants to know if you're capable of handling special projects, dealing with irate customers and staff, or if you can keep confidential issues to yourself. 

  • Put your basic job descriptions aside for a moment and focus on your accomplishments. Don't just say you're a marketing genius -- PROVE IT to the prospective employer by citing specific examples of how your ideas have penetrated new markets and produced new business.

  • Get specific! If you cut operating costs by 15%, say so! But don't stop sure to illustrate (briefly) HOW you managed to cut those costs. It's not necessary to create a mini-essay for each accomplishment, but you want to give the employer enough details that he sees how you played an instrumental role. 

  • Cut the fluff! Contrary to popular belief, less is really more. You don't need flowery prose and trumped-up adjectives to get the employer's attention. Focus on the facts and let your accomplishments speak for themselves! 

  • Don't tell the employer what he already knows. BIG mistake! If you're a secretary, don't detail how you use fax machines to send faxes or use MSWord to create text documents. In other words, give the employer credit for knowing the fundamentals of the position he's trying to fill. Direct attention instead to your ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment or adeptly juggle 10 incoming phone lines while preserving the company's high customer service standards. 

  • Write aggressively. Pick descriptive action verbs to give your sentences energy and excitement. Never, never, NEVER use phrases like "responsibilities included" or "duties were," as these are perhaps the most tired sentence starters in all of Resume-Land! Substitute stronger openings like "Led special project team..." or "Directed multisite operations in the Northwest territory..." 

  • Evaluate the relevancy of your early experience. There's nothing wrong with the fact that you delivered pizza while you were in college, but now that you're a seasoned executive with more than 20 years under your belt, do you think the employer is really interested in that early stuff? CUT IT OUT. 

  • Throw out the Objective. Forget the "seeking a position that will offer opportunity for advancement and growth" phraseology -- aren't we ALL looking for that? Create a Career Profile or Qualifications Synopsis that highlights your value and summarizes your abilities. The Career Profile is a critical component, as it sets the tone for the rest of the resume. It gets the employer excited about what he's about to learn about you and your expertise. 

  • Proofread! If you don't think errors in spelling or grammar will eliminate you from consideration, leave a few in there and start sending your resume out. A handy proofreading tip: read the document from right to left. This forces your eye to look at each word individually rather than looking at them in phrases. 

  • In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, "Don't have a cow, man." Don't work yourself into a frenzy about resume length, paper color, or the ever-popular flat-fold-or-staple dilemma. Focus on the CONTENT. Make every word count. Get rid of the excess. Make yourself a hero in the employer's eyes -- the *only* candidate he could possibly consider for the position. 

When all else fails and it's just not coming together as it should, seek the advice of someone who knows what they're doing. Experienced professional resume writers make their living helping job seekers market themselves more aggressively. They offer objective opinions, fresh perspectives, and comprehensive knowledge of what employers want to see in resumes today. 

Rene' Hart, Executive Director of Resumes For Success!, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer recognized for her contributions to many of today's top career publications. Contact Rene' toll free at 1-888-522-6121, e-mail her at, or visit her web site at

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