Developing An Interview-Generating Resume
Has anyone recently asked you for a copy of your resume?

Believe it or not, this is when most individuals decide to write or update their resume. And this is exactly why most resumes are dull, responsibilities-focused documents that do little more than chronicle a candidate’s career history.

The good news is, with a little bit of advance planning and preparation, you can develop a resume that blows most of your competition out of the water. And let’s face it, in today’s highly competitive job market, you must be competitive on paper. If you’re not, you may never get the opportunity to present yourself in an interview.

Here are some essential steps for writing a compelling resume that will generate interviews for you:

Prepare before you write.
Before you commit a single word to paper, focus first your target position. This will provide you with the general theme for structuring your resume. If you have more than one position that interests you, think about creating multiple versions, each with a slightly different slant.

Once you have your target position in mind, develop a list key skills and strengths that support your proposal as a good candidate for this position. Also, begin to develop a list of key words. These are nouns and phrases that are used to describe the important requirements for the job and you can locate them in advertisements and job postings for positions similar to the one you are targeting. Key words are used to qualify candidates during the initial resume screening process.

Select the correct format.
Carefully assess your strengths and weaknesses and select the resume format that will best highlight your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. The most common resume format styles are:
  • Chronological: This format is highly effective for the candidate with a strong career progression who is seeking a position similar to his or her most recent job.
  • Functional: Best suited for candidates who are changing careers or re-entering the workforce after a career hiatus.
  • Combination: This combines the best elements of the chronological and functional formats and is suitable for most job candidates.
Develop the content for your resume.
You should begin your resume with a summary or profile statement instead of an objective. The summary can be one of the most important parts of your resume because it enables you to present a clear overview of your strengths and capabilities, especially those that support your job target.

As you write the body of your resume, remember, you don’t have to include everything about your background. Instead, focus on the important aspects of your career. It is perfectly acceptable, and even preferable, to omit part-time positions or full-time positions of short duration. Be certain, however, not to fabricate any information such as covering gaps in your employment timeline by falsifying dates. Remember, your facts will be verified when you are hired and false information is grounds for immediate termination.

Keep in mind, it is not necessary to go back more than 20 years in your employment history. Experience that is more than 20 years old is probably not too relevant in today’s market. Going back too far in your career history is likely to date you.

Be mindful of your writing style.
Dull, boring resumes will lose the reader fast. So make sure your resume is informative and interesting to read. Keep these writing style points in mind as you write your resume.

a) Avoid the temptation of starting your sentences with “Responsible for.” Instead, begin each sentence with an action verb that captures the reader’s attention and draws him or her into the text.
b) When describing each of your past positions, begin with a brief summary paragraph that describes your main responsibilities and follow it up with bullet points that drill down on the details and describe your key accomplishments. Don’t use bullet points for routine details.
c) Watch your tense. Describe your current position in the present tense and past positions in the past tense. Be consistent here.
d) Finally, use the spell check feature on your word processor and proofread your resume several times. Spelling and grammatical errors are the kiss of death.

Use lots of key words.
Now that you’ve developed your list of key words, it’s time to incorporate them into the body of your resume. Key words are essential if you are going to make the final cut. With dozens – if not hundreds – of candidates competing for each job, it is important to have a resume that jumps out from the competition. And the best way to ensure this is to use a healthy dose of key words throughout your resume. Even though key words alone will not get you the job, the lack of key words is likely to disqualify your resume during the initial screening process.

Stress the benefits of hiring you.
Every employer wants to know one thing: “what are the benefits hiring you?” So make sure your resume delivers benefits by stressing your capabilities and your accomplishments. Rather than simply showing where you have been, a benefits-oriented resume will show the prospective employer exactly what you bring to the table. So include plenty of accomplishments and be sure to quantify them wherever possible.

Make sure your resume has strong visual appeal.
A wonderfully written resume without visual appeal can easily be overlooked. So make sure yours has strong visual appeal.

Make sure that the formatting of your resume is consistent with regard to tabs, spacing, font size and layout. Use a font type and size that is easy to read and can easily be scanned electronically. Stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman 11, Arial 10, or Georgia 10. Avoid fonts that are heavy or difficult to read. Reserve style elements such as boldface, underline, and italics sparingly. Only use them for key points that you want to emphasize.

Finally, make sure your resume has plenty of “breathing room” by allocating enough white space in the body. And watch your margins. Use no less than .7” for top and bottom margins and .8” for left and right.

By following these guidelines, your resume will not only be focused, informative, and interesting, it will also have the visual appeal that grabs the reader’s attention. In other words, it will have all the elements of a great self-marketing piece that presents you as a highly qualified professional.