What Makes A Great Resume

Adapted from The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work For You!

Let me tell you now, the process of finding a job is a job, itself! The best way to be successful in your job search or career advancement is to have a well-defined Plan and team with someone on it before you go into Process. Your search Plan needs to be designed specifically for you, giving consideration to your goals and timelines, personal circumstances and requirements, and your resources.

My best and natural recommendation is for you to work with a professional who is not only adept at escorting people with your skills through their job searches, but who also has a rich number of employers who depend on and trust their guidance in their hiring needs. A really good recruiter will receive their fee from the employer who has come to trust their ability, often based on a history of success. Career coaches may charge you a fee to work with you. Either way, professionals can help you to navigate opportunities and make sure you are getting first-rate introductions to employers who are likely to hire you.

If you cannot or choose not to work with a professional agency, you still need to be thorough in planning your job search or career advancement. Some of the things you should plan ahead are:

Your Commitment

As I’ve told you, finding a job is a job, itself. You need right now to determine what your commitment to this process is going to be. Consider things like how much time you can dedicate to active searching and interviewing. If you have obligations that require your time during the regular working hours, make sure you factor them into how busy and dedicated you can be. An agency will ask you this question before they ever agree to present you to employers who are depending on them to bring ready and available candidates forward. Get a scheduling book and log your search activities, interview commitments and travel time to and from companies. It is very important that you are clear about just what effort you are making.

The emotional engagement you have to thinking about your situation can easily begin to feel like work, but it doesn’t count as work! Be specific about what you are actually doing to gain your next job.

janice bryant howroyd

Your Resume

The picture employers get of you before they meet you is important. One picture they depend on is the resume you present. The picture employers get of you before they meet with you is important. One picture they depend on is the resume you present. Again, Agencies are a great resource for assisting you to create a fresh, honest and detailed resume that best describes who you are and what value you will bring to an employer. There are also websites and books that can help you to create your own resume. Among them are resume.com and their text,

The Resume.Com Guide to Writing Unbeatable Resumes. Some other books that will assist you are Cover Letter Magic: Trade Secrets of Professional Resume Writers. My company AppleOne offers a highly comprehensive guide to resume writing and career search, The Core to Success.

Some good guidelines for creating your own resume are: 

  • Know Who You’re Talking To: Your resume should speak clearly and persuasively to each employer you are meeting with. While the substance of your work history will remain the same, highlights of your accomplishments or organizational affiliations can be tailored to the employer you will meet with. It’s always an excellent point of etiquette and interest when I review a resume that is addressed directly to me, rather than to “To Whom it May Concern” or “Hiring Manager”. It shows me that the person I’m investing time to get to know has invested time to know me and my organization, as well.

One more thing that is very important to mention here is that once you’ve refined your resume, go online and see if there is any contradictory information about you. Employers will look into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the rest to learn what they can about you. You need to be comfortable and honest in addressing any questions that may arise as a result of information existing about you on the internet. You also need to be careful and discerning about allowing pictures of yourself to be posted that may not best express how you want to be represented to any future employers. This is just as important to consider, even if you are already hired and looking for promotion, or just wanting to keep the job you’ve got.

  • Keep It Concise: Employers and interviewers are going to be looking at more than just your resume as they make hiring decisions. You want your resume to get you into the door, but you can leave something to talk about once you’re there. Don’t make your resume your life story. Keep to the point of your accomplishments and start all descriptions with action verbs; i.e. developed, managed, created, etc. Be clear and just as concise in expressing the results of any highlights of your work that you mention.
  • Keep It Relevant: No matter how good you have been over your career, it’s how good you are now that is important to anyone offering you a chance at new work. This point matters incredibly for new entrants to the job market, so if you are searching for your first job, be certain to include your most recent organizational or temporary work accomplishments. Degrees and honors help to support this area of consideration, and certainly high-quality references will bring pizzazz to your resume. So, while job searchers who have abundant work references and a rich work history may put “References provided upon request” on their resumes, it can be a great plus for you to put “References are available from Name-organization-etc” on yours. It puts you in a better and more legitimate light.

If you are someone who has an illustrious body of work of which you are proud, don’t make your resume the place you shout about this. Keep the employer in mind, and include only what will get them interested enough to want to talk with you and confident enough that you bring expertise and credibility to their need. Any next employer, or position you win, is not going to pay you based solely on what you think you’re worth. They are going to pay you based on what they think your worth is to their organization. So, start to paint the picture of that right up front. Make your resume highlight your best accomplishments as you think each particular employer will find beneficial to their company. Be very clear about your most recent work accomplishments.

In years past, one of the strongest areas of anyone’s resume or interview would be highlighting and identifying their experience, and much of this would lean toward the length of time on the job, or within a particular position. This was a signifier to the hiring executive that the applicant was dependable in several ways. Today, while a strong history of dependability is still desirable, employers are often giving equal weight to freshness and stellar skills when making their hiring decisions. They want people who bring new thoughts and creativity to the job, no matter what the job is! Companies today are more willing than ever, and some are insistent, to look at a new entrant to the job market who comes prepared, listens and answers well, has a great attitude and actually asks for the job!

As I’ve told you, this is a new and global market, and everyone wants to hire someone who shows a potential to assist them in their growth. If you have other value adds, like multilingual skills or killer software proficiencies, list them! Don’t write a book about them, but do make sure they are represented on each resume you create. These are the types of values that might place you above someone else whose resume is not as on point as yours. They might also help the employer to think about how, or where else, you might fit into their organization!

  • Make It Professional: Once you know who you’re talking to, and what you want to say about yourself, create a resume that is easy and quick to read, and is spell-checked and in clean print. Fancy covers and pictures of yourself are not going to make you stand out to someone who is interested in getting a critical picture of your talents and accomplishments. Remember that your resume has to do these things:
  1. Quickly give a clear and results-oriented picture of your abilities and work history
  2. Highlight your education, as appropriate
  3. List pertinent certifications, memberships, organizational accomplishments
  4. Enumerate value-added skills you may bring such as multilingual abilities and software proficiencies.

Once you’re comfortable that you have demonstrated these things, make sure they are put down on a single sheet of clean paper in a good strong print, and that your contact information is prominent. Make them want to meet you, and give them the ability to do so!

Janice Bryant Howroyd

Businesswoman, entrepreneur, educator, ambassador, author, mentor and Presidential Special Appointee, Janice Bryant Howroyd is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Act •1 Group, a global leader providing customized cutting edge solutions in the human resources industry.