The lingering and recent economic woes felt throughout not only our country but also the world is representative of the dire circumstances our families and communities face. Because of these perilous economic conditions many are now in search of any and all available career opportunities and are pulling out all stops to secure them. Now more than ever are persuasive, relevant, and compelling resumes one of the most effective tools needed to distinguish one candidate from another.
A convincing resume is often one that catches the reader’s instant attention and provides a baseline for ruling a candidate in or out. Former recruiter and resume guru, David Alan Carter truthfully acknowledges that “[Resumes are used to] screen out candidates from further consideration. Those resumes that don’t screen out their owners are effective – simple as that.” So how do you keep yourself in the running? Simply put, there are some simple rules to follow in the creation of a persuasive resume and if they are adhered to, you too can create a representative portrait of your life and skill set(s), possibly appealing to a future employer.
Truly persuasive resumes:
Accentuate Relevant Career Experiences
On average most recruiters and resume reviewers spend approximately 10 – 15 seconds in their initial assessment of your resume. Quite frankly, this has several implications, the most significant being that you have less time to impress that person. It then becomes vital that the content found in the resume you submit be aligned with the career opportunity you are seeking.
When listing your career experiences and work history, it makes sense to list first those that are relevant to the position you seek. Keep mind that as you list those prior job experiences always identify the most recent of those in the first position. By listing relevant experiences first, you then give the reviewer a reason to conduct a more thorough examination of your resume thus making those all important fifteen seconds count in your favor.
Identify Volunteer & Charitable Work
Contrary to some beliefs, “good guys (and of course ladies) do not always finish last.” There has always been a sentiment in the employment recruitment community that those candidates who are involved in charitable and volunteer work are more likely to contribute to a congenial work environment. Additionally, the belief is that these candidates are more likely to go above and beyond their established job description responsibilities thus making them more valuable to the organization.
Within the last ten years it has even become advisable and acceptable to highlight leadership experiences, skill development, interpersonal involvements, and other positive prior occurrences to bolster the candidate’s experiential standing in the eyes of the reviewer. It is my experience that it does not really matter whether the applicant was not paid for these instances and in fact reinforces their overall selflessness, loyalty and commitment.
Are Error Free
Grammar and punctuation errors are the most common assassin that regularly kills off resumes. A misspelled name or errant comma can put off a reviewer and can move your resume to the bottom of the stack and or even the top of a waste basket.
Contrary to popular belief, the spell check feature on your desk or laptop computers are flawed and given the opportunity, will fail you in some of the most unexpected ways. If you are not going to have your resume professionally created, I advise you to at least have it professionally edited and reviewed.
In most of the resumes that I have been fortunate enough to develop, one of the more common errors are “run on” sentences that could easily double for paragraphs. Short succinct narrative sentences describing your experiences will suffice. If ever a reviewer is interrupted while scanning your resume at least they will be left with a complete thought or sentence until they return to your resume. Please remember that bulleted references to your work experiences are not a resume – that is what we commonly call a list.
Have Accurate Contact & Socially Acceptable Information
In this day and age when many aim to simplify their lives though the use of social networking and media forums unbeknownst to them they often are making their professional lives much more tedious because of reckless online behavior.
If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or any other social networking account, it pays to make certain that any and all derogatory information that has made its way to your page be deleted. Additionally, I encourage all of my resume clients to not accept new “friends or followers” while they are being seriously considered for a career opportunity. I say this because if for no other reason, you should avoid any practice or instance that could potentially disqualify you for the position.
When in search of a career opportunity in the “real world,” simple is always best. For example, the selection of a personal email address is often the biggest stumbling block for some. I have never understood the rationale for creating an email address that includes references to birth dates, social security numbers or other personally relevant data that could potentially give the criminally minded a peek into how to invade and steal your identity. By simply using your fist initial and entire last name, you will create a more visually appealing email address.
When listing your home address, I always advise people to go to Postal Service website at usps.com and click on the residential tab. Check the postal service’s version of your official address and use that one for your resume. When listing home phone numbers as your primary contact number, it pays to have an answering machine associated with that number.
Lastly, I am not an advocate of using mobile phone numbers for resumes only because it gives people too much access to you during your down time. The above referenced contact information should be sufficient.
Highlight Recent Educational Accomplishments
For those who have degrees and other educational experience to list on your resume, always list the highest degree first. The rule of thumb is that if you have graduate degree, it is unnecessary to list your high school. If your most recent and highest degree is an undergraduate degree, then listing your high school is appropriate only if your high school graduation occurred within the last ten years. This is only to make certain that you don’t date yourself. If a high school diploma is your highest achieved academic level, then it makes sense to provide as much charitable/volunteer experience as possible as alluded to in the second characteristic listed above.
Remember that if you have earned any specialized certificates or undergone any unique training; be sure to list those before your high school credentials as they offer more insight into your recent skill sets. Finally, always remember that reviewers generally are not interested in grade point averages but you should list any academic honors (cum laude, dean’s list, honors graduate) that you have earned.
Never forget that a well constructed and thorough resume is a tangible reflection of you and as such should be given your undivided and serious attention. If you heed these admonitions, you should be well on your way to finding the career opportunity designed especially for you.
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