Build an effective resume that supports your job goals. Here's how.

Have you ever tried to fly a kite without a string to guide its direction or without a tail to give it proper weight and navigational assistance? Sounds pretty frustrating - unless you don't care where the kite goes. Sending out a resume without giving it direction or strategic design can be a similar exercise in futility.

Like a kite, a resume needs to be built properly (eye-catching, easily readable design and format), guided to its destination (by tailoring it to a specific job and market), and weighted properly (with quantified accomplishments and responsibilities).

Consider the purpose of your resume.

A resume is the marketing vehicle that, when crafted effectively, will facilitate your ability to secure an interview. It will also help you prepare for that interview because it will highlight your key selling points and boost your confidence in your own abilities.

Like many applicants, you may feel at a loss for words when you initially try to list your accomplishments at work. “I haven't contributed anything,” you say. “I just do my job.” However, once you take a step back and go through the process of brainstorming how you've actually added value to your department or company, I guarantee your feelings of self-worth will rise - and even soar. And that confidence will definitely get noticed by the hiring manager during your next interview.

Define your resume's intended destination.

While written resume objectives are no longer the standard, it is imperative that your job goals are clearly stated and supported throughout your resume for it to be effective. Below are questions to ask yourself before you start the resume-writing process. Your answers will help give your resume the direction and content it needs to land in the right place.  

Who do you expect will read your resume?

Believe it or not, most job applications are not initially reviewed by a human being. Instead, an electronic applicant tracking system (ATS) will scan your job application for keywords and skills. If you are fortunate enough to have an actual human read your resume, the design can either hurt or harm you, depending on its effectiveness and readability. Keep in mind that HR professionals may not be familiar with all industry or job-related acronyms, so use both the acronyms and the actual words. Managers will pay more attention to your specific accomplishments to try to determine if you would be an asset, so make sure these are prominently featured.  

Which industry are you targeting?

If you are open to a variety of industries, this point does not apply. But if you are seeking a position in the manufacturing industry, for example, industry keywords need to be included in your resume. This will increase your chances of the electronic applicant tracking systems honing in on your resume. Sophisticated systems can now detect if keywords are actually used in context, so they have to be strategically and effectively integrated into your resume.

What specific position are you seeking?

Unfortunately for the over-stressed and over-worked, the days of sending out a generic resume for several types of jobs are behind us. You have to design your resume with a particular position in mind. You have to know what keywords, skills, areas of expertise, and qualities an employer is looking for in a candidate. And then you have to make sure you feature them in your resume and show - not tell - that you have them. That brings me to the next bullet point.   

What results do you want your resume to showcase?

Do you get things done? Do you improve processes or procedures? Do you surpass sales goals? Do you lead teams?

Simply stating that you possess a certain quality  will have almost no positive impact on a potential employer. In fact, it may actually work against you. How many times do employers read, “Highly motivated, multi-tasking, very organized, successful, team player…?” Too many times! They either yawn or toss the resume.

Instead of telling the reader about your skills, show them what you've accomplished using dollar amounts, percentages, descriptions of projects, and other quantifiable results.

Ready for a new career? Get started with a new resume today.

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