Writing about yourself is undoubtedly one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever face. When it’s your resume you’re writing, the stakes are high and so is the pressure. How can you be certain that you’ve included everything important, excluded anything irrelevant and presented yourself in the most flattering and strategic way?
The Top Three
For starters, keep in mind that there are three vital elements to an effective resume. As you write, edit, rewrite, edit, polish, edit, print and hit send, keep in mind “The Top Three.”
1. Format – Your resume’s appearance determines its readability. The easier it is to read, the more information it will convey to your readers. Of course, you can’t count on recruiters or employers to devour every word. That’s why it’s imperative that you design your resume for at-a-glance impact. Strategic formatting helps guarantee that, if your readers spend only 30 seconds glancing at your resume, their eyes go to the key points YOU WANT them to see.
2. Content – What you choose to present to your readers determines how they will perceive you. So choose wisely as you describe or exclude: previous employers, job titles and responsibilities, strengths, accomplishments, achievements, volunteer work, summer jobs, awards, education, affiliations, interests, references, even e-mail and social networking addresses.
3. Profile – Your readers may not read beyond your profile or overview at the top of Page One. Written well, that’s a good thing. Written poorly, that’s a disaster! So be sure to tell your readers what you do…and what you do exceptionally well. Include, too, any particularly unique skills, talents, traits or accomplishments – such as: a relevant double major in college; dual or multi-language proficiency; an award, published work, patent; special certifications, security clearance or military service. After all, this is your opportunity to stand apart from other candidates!
Each of these elements is integral to an effective resume. So, as you write, keep in mind The Top Three – and ask trusted friends, colleagues and family members to share their thoughts about your positive qualities. You don’t have to use their ideas…but they may mention traits you’ve overlooked. More than likely, their compliments will prove to be a pleasant surprise that lifts your spirits, renews your focus and re-energizes you in your career quest.
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