Writing an Effective Resume
Is your resume being read or is it being put aside on indefinite hold? Why are some more effective than others? As strange as this sounds, most resumes are written without a clear understanding of their true purpose. Simply put, a good resume should motivate management to interview you. Generating interest is not the same as providing information.
Regardless of your position, your contribution to your former employers should be made obvious on your resume. Companies are in business to earn a profit, and a resume that shows a positive impact on a corporation's bottom line is more likely to be considered and reviewed.
Tell your story of accomplishment. Don't save it for the interview because you may not get that chance. A resume is a personalized and customized marketing document. If it is written as a routine, chronological record of your jobs, it will fail to generate interest.
Consider these two brief, hypothetical resume samples. These might be from two engineers who worked for the same manufacturer at the same time. They even worked on the same projects. However, their resumes might not look alike at all:
1992-1996 Production Engineer, ACME Aircraft Co.
Worked on the production of the next-generation space shuttle. .......
1992-1996 Production Engineer, ACME Aircraft Co.
Worked on the production of the next-generation space shuttle.
*Participated in the development of a new production technique that reduced manufacturing time by 3%.
*Led Quality Assurance team that reduced scrap waste by 6%.
Which one would you be more likely to interview? It could be that Engineer #1 achieved more than Engineer #2, but the resume doesn't show it. Suppose they had attended the same college and Engineer #1 had graduated at the very top of the class but didn't say so. This is noted, however, on Engineer #2’s resume. Whom would you interview?
You need to get a strong message across in a very short amount of time. It's vital that your resume grabs the attention of the reader, and the achievements that make you a great candidate are presented in an easy way for the reader to find. Your resume may not get more than 25 or 30 seconds of review before someone makes a decision to consider it further—or throw it away.
Information contained in a paragraph format may be missed.
Bold, underlined, italicized, the indented and bulleted text will jump out and get attention.
Also, in this electronic age, it is a relatively simple matter to customize your resume for each position. Of course, we are not suggesting that you change facts; above all, your resume must be an honest document. However, with whatever knowledge you might have about your prospective company and position, highlight the four or five accomplishments and skills that are most likely to arouse their interest in you.
Organizing Your Resume
There is no right or wrong way to organize your resume. The following outline is one recommended approach that has proven to be effective in presenting credentials in a clear and interesting way.
Overview: We suggest avoiding an "Objective" statement that can be limiting in terms of opportunities and may close some doors. For instance, the following statement may prevent you from getting an interview for a staff-level position that has the potential of becoming a plant manager in one year. Or it may lock you out of certain industries where good opportunities exist.
Objective: To obtain a position as plant manager of a medium-sized, innovative consumer products manufacturing company.
Instead, focus on your areas of expertise and accomplishment, remaining open to many situations that could lead to future career opportunities.
Overview: Experienced operations management professional with 15 years’ experience, leading to the position of manufacturing manager with a multi-plant manufacturing organization.
Key Strengths and Skills: Identify key strengths and skills you have developed that are transferable and will interest potential employers. Items of importance here would include people skills, leadership, industry-specific positions, management and techniques, experience in various professional disciplines, etc. A bulleted list would be good here.
Accomplishments: Provide a list of key accomplishments, in quantitative terms, which would excite employers about your abilities. This should include areas where you saved/made money or saved time for your company. Qualitative descriptions of accomplishments are not as positive and impressive as quantitative descriptions.
Avoid qualitative descriptions such as
less disciplinary actions
fewer production problems
Instead, use quantitative descriptions such as
improved attendance from 80% to 95%
reduced employee grievances by 20%
increased on-time schedule completion from 90% to 98%
Employment History or Work Experience:
Once again, qualitative statements such as
provided customer service
Are not as impressive and meaningful quantitative measures such as
supervised 15 engineers
supported customer base of 100 clients
If you have held more than one position with the same company, make sure this is clear. For instance, indent the titles under a single listing for the company to show varied experience or promotional growth. This will also help avoid the appearance of holding too many jobs during your career.
Education: List your university/college experience(s) starting with highest level degree first. List additional continuing education that are beneficial to your professional growth and career.
Personal: This section, in which some people include outside interests, language skills, hobbies, etc, is strictly optional. Generally speaking, we suggest leaving this section out, unless it positively aligns you with the prospective company's culture.
References: Include references on a separate sheet, but do NOT submit them to a company with your resume. Instead, give them to your FPC of St. Lawrence early on, who can have them ready for the hiring manager when the appropriate time comes. It is not necessary to include a statement like "References Available Upon Request" on your resume. You will most likely be asked to provide references during the interview process, so there is no need to state the obvious.
Do Not Make These Mistakes
DO NOT make any statements that are inaccurate or untrue. Always be honest with the information presented in your resume, stressing your positive accomplishments and responsibilities.
DO NOT make your resume too long or too short. It needs to be long enough to include enough information to interest a potential employer, but should leave the person reading it wanting to know more about you. If the resume is too long, it may not be read at all. A generally accepted length is one to two pages.
DO NOT make the font size too small. The best option is to use 10pt. or 12pt. type, but never go smaller than 9pt. type.
DO NOT make the text all capital letters, except for your name or section headings. All caps make your resume difficult frustrating to read.
DO NOT include such items as salary history or perks with previous employers. However, you should discuss these issues with your FPC recruiter.
DO NOT include reasons for leaving your previous or current position. Also, avoid any negative situations involved in your employment history. Your FPC recruiter can help you address these issues at the appropriate time in the interview process.
DO NOT include information that identifies you as a member of any protected class and could potentially raise issues regarding discriminatory hiring. Your FPC recruiter is prohibited from passing on such information, because such information is irrelevant to the hiring process.
The Final Word: How FPC of St. Lawrence Can Help
Your FPC of St. Lawrence recruiter can help assess your resume to ensure that it meets the standards employers are looking for. FPC recruiters have an intimate knowledge of its client companies and can customize your resume to target all of their needs.
Remember, Your Resume Should...
Be easy to read, concise, clear and to the point
Grab the interest of the reader and cause him or her to read on
Provide quantitative accomplishments
Clearly define scope of responsibilities and abilities
Inspire the reader to want to hear more in person
Always place your most recent employer first. Clearly state the name and location of the company and a brief description of its industry or product lines. Include the size and sales level of the company, where possible. Indicate your position and the scope of your responsibilities, including professional disciplines or job titles and quantitative measures.