Writing a Selling Resume
Every employer sees hundreds of resumes a year, and, quite frankly, after a while, they all get to look the same. So how do you make your resume stand out?
First of all, experts in resume writing today will tell you to forget the traditional chronological resume. It’s nothing but a grocery list. Yes, it gives the facts, but it doesn’t really tell the employer how well you could do his or her particular job.
What you need is a selling resume – one that shows what your strengths are and connects those strengths to your education and experience. What’s the resume selling? You. You’re the product. A selling resume is particularly appropriate for recent graduates with little or no work experience, because it lets you tie your life experience into the skills needed for the job.
Here’s a how selling resume looks:
Your phone number, including mobile and fax
Your objective/the kind of job you want
- Use bullet points to highlight your most important accomplishments, if you have any
- These can include things like awards you’ve won, successful projects you’ve led for school or clubs, etc.
- Your accomplishments should show that you have the drive and skill to get things done successfully
- If you don’t have any, leave this part out.
- In this part, you’ll have to do some research and some serious thinking about the skills needed in the job you want. Make a list of them. A teacher, for example, requires the ability to speak in front of groups, work well with people, explain ideas (good communication skills), etc.
- Next to each skill, write, using short phrases, a couple of the things you’ve done that show you have the skill. For example:
- Communication: Winner of high school speech contest; editor of school yearbook
- As in the previous section, use bullet points for each skill.
- Use a separate bullet point for each job you’ve had
- Also include any volunteer work, hobby or after-school activity that relates to the kind of work you want to do. Remember, this is experience, too. When you first get out of school, you won’t have a lot of work experience, but if you’ve been an active person, you’ll have lots of life experience that will make you a good employee.
- For each job, list the title of the position you held, the name of the business, the town, the dates your worked, and your responsibilities. For example:
- Shelf Stocker. Winn Dixie, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. June-August, 2002. Responsible for keeping shelves of merchandise neat and fully stocked.
- A note on the above job: it probably required you to keep an eye on the shelves (detail oriented) and work with others (team player). See how your experience contributes to your Professional Skills above?
- Begin with the most recent experience first.
- Again, use a separate bullet point for each school.
- Begin with the most recent.
- If you have just high school, list your middle school/junior high and primary school.
- If you have college, tech school or some other kind of tertiary education, list your high school, but not your junior high and primary school.
- Your school entry should include the dates you attended, the degree earned, the school, the town and state, your major (for tertiary education) and any honors earned. For example:
- 1998-2002. Regents diploma. Huntington High School, Huntington, New York. National Merit Scholarship finalist; Varsity Letter; Regents Scholarship.
- 2002-present. Bachelor of Arts Program. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass. Majoring in Computer Science. Deans List. Will graduate June, 2006.
- Notice how if you are in school, but not yet graduated, you give the expected date of graduation as follows: Will graduate (date of graduation).
- For a man, if you’re married, it’s a good idea to say so. It shows stability. For a woman, don’t bother. It can have the opposite effect, and according to Equal Opportunity laws, the employer is not allowed to ask you.
- List here any hobbies and interests that you have that make you an interesting, well-rounded person.
- Mention if you are “Willing to relocate”
- Include “References available upon request”, but don’t list the names of the people here.
You’ll notice right at the beginning of the resume there’s a line for your objective. The best thing you can write here is the job you’re applying for. In today’s world of word processors, there is no reason why you can’t change your resume to fit the job. It looks more like you’re the perfect person for the job if you spend some time tailoring your resume for the job, rather than sending out a blanket resume. The only exception, of course, is if you are doing the “direct mail” kind of job hunt. Then you’ll need a more general resume.
One final point: the job of the resume is to get you the interview. It’s the interview that gets you the job. So make sure you sell yourself at the interview. See tips on how to have a successful Interview.