Writing a Winning Resumé

Writing a resumé can be an intimidating task for many of us. The objective of this article is to minimize the intimidation factor and assist people to start the process of putting pen to paper.

 

Before providing tips, however, I thought beginning with some reassuring advice might be helpful. The first thing people should remember is that there is no thing as a “perfect resumé.” Where resumés are concerned, the objective should be to work towards a good resumé, and, from there, a great resumé.

 

Further, a resumé is just a single step towards finding a job. Ideally, it opens the door for an interview but I have yet to encounter an individual who gets a job based on their resumé alone. Hopefully, that helps minimize some of the intimidation in writing a resumé.

 

The second thing I would like to remind people before addressing best practices and tips is that all resumés are written the same way. That is to say, they are completed a bite at a time. It is not surprising that writing a resumé from scratch can overwhelm when we look at the task in its entirety. Break the resumé writing process into steps and tackle them one by one.

 

Finally, there is no such thing as a “finished product” when it comes to a resumé. They are always works in progress and should be constantly updated with new information or altering words that are not working for you. Bottom-line, a resumé should never be set aside to collect dust. By staying on top of your resumé, you avoid the challenge of writing a resumé from scratch down the road.

 

Hopefully, you are feeling a little calmer now about the task ahead. So here are some tips on how to proceed and some best practices for people working in Private Service.

 

  1. Make a rough outline of the information you want to include in your resumé.

  2. Choose a template. There are thousands of free resumé templates available on the web. Pick one that is easy on-the-eye (i.e. not crammed to the hilt with detail), and not overly fussy or over-designed.

  3. Get rid of that “Objective” section, which just takes up valuable page space with boilerplate language. Most Recruiters and Employers do not even bother reading it and there is a reason for this. “Objective” sections tell them nothing about the individual and are, more often than not, filled with meaningless language.

  4. Get rid of clichéd terms and expressions. “Team player,” “motivated,” “organizational skills,” “strong communicator,” “passionate,” “detail-oriented,” etc. are all clichés that cause the eyes of Employers and Recruiters to glaze over. They do nothing to help your cause.

  5. If it is not a skill, get rid of it. I am not suggesting that “soft skills” like communication, getting along with others, etc. do not matter. I am saying that including them in your resumé will get you nowhere with a prospective Employer. 

  6. Focus on skills and accomplishments. These things are the “meat and potatoes” of all resumés since they grab the attention of a Recruiter and Employer. Remember, your reader has a checklist of skills in mind. Your objective when applying for that job is to check off as many of those boxes as possible.

  7. When detailing your employment experience, don’t go back three decades. Ten or fifteen years (maximum) is a good rule of thumb and the experience should be as job specific as possible. If it is not, try to recalibrate the experience so that transferable skills are identified.

  8. Always include month and year when identifying dates. Few things bother me more than reading a resumé that does not include months. Keep in mind that there is a huge potential time difference between 2015 - 2016, December 2016 - January 2017 and January 2016 - December 2017. Do the math and you will see my point.

  9. Get rid of that tedious Reference line. Of course, you will supply References. If you want the job, it is a given.

  10. Do not use dense, blocks of text. Bullet experience and accomplishments. Recruiters and Employers scan resumés and blocks of text are major turn-offs.

  11. Edit, edit, edit! Re-read your resumé. In fact, read it out loud. If it sounds good to the ear, then great. If it sounds awkward, then the writing is probably awkward. Further, if a bullet or sentence works without a word or words, then get rid of them. Going minimal is the goal.

  12. Get a good friend or trusted colleague to review your work. Tell them that you want sincere and thoughtful feedback and that they will not hurt your feelings if it is negative. Listen to the feedback carefully and take notes. Evaluate the information you have been given and then go back to the drawing board. Hopefully, this time the task is easier and tweaks here and there are what will be required.

  13. Finally, write a Cover Letter. Cover Letters are their own subject, but, in my opinion, a well-written one is essential for any job search and can accomplish things that a resumé cannot. A Cover Letter provides an opportunity to connect with a Recruiter or Employer in a way that a resumé simply cannot accomplish. A resumé is factual. A Cover Letter is personal.

 

There are good reasons why people are intimidated when it comes to tackling their resumé. These days, however, there are so many resources available. The Internet is filled with information, both good and bad. There are professional resumé services, however, few specialize in the Private Service field. I can recommend the services of Donna Shannon (personaltouchcareerservices.com). She has an excellent reputation and has written extensively on the subject. She also is very familiar with the Private Service field and understands its idiosyncrasies. 

 

Finally, remember that a resumé will always be a work in progress. It will never be completed. If after sending out the same resumé over and over without getting an interview, there is likely something that needs to be fixed on your resumé. Ask your Recruiter directly about the feedback they are receiving from Employers. The information just might help you remodel your resumé so that you do get those all-important interviews. And once you get those interviews, it is all up to you. After all, you get the job. Your resumé just opens a door.

© Portico Inc., 2017

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