Here Is Why Your Resume Can Make or Break Your Job Prospects
By Dr. Bruce A. Johnson
Are you looking for a job? Or do you plan to look for a job in the near future?
Those questions represent the most common reasons why someone would begin to look at their resume and decide if it needs to be updated. What most people discover over time is that their resume should always be update-to-date as job changes can occur suddenly and without any prior warning. But most people wait until a resume is needed and it is at this time that a decision is made to try to refine and update it, or leave it as is and hope that it will be sufficient enough to gain a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention. There is a misconception that because resumes are rarely mailed out any longer, they are not that important. Yet many online application forms still request that a resume copy be uploaded for review.
A challenge for many people is knowing how to create an effective resume. You can conduct an Internet search and find literally hundreds of online articles and resources that provide fairly standard methods of creating a resume; however, that can become overwhelming in time.
In addition, few people are highly skilled as a writer, and poorly written sentences with numerous spelling and grammatical errors can create a poor impression. You have to keep in mind the fact that when you send out a resume it is taking your place and represents you as a person, without the guarantee of securing an interview – and that means your resume can make or break your job prospects before you ever get to speak to someone about it.
One of the first misconceptions that people hold about the use of resumes is that they are never actually read, especially when there are online application forms to be filled out. While this cannot be proven either way, I do know from my own experience as a professional writer that most recruiters do look at the resumes received because it provides a general overview of the candidate’s attention to, or lack thereof, details such as the style and type of writing.
Another common misconception is that a resume must be one page in total length. I am not certain I know how that idea became popular or why it has remained so engrained as it ultimately serves little purpose for most candidates and it can work to the detriment of a job seeker. The reason why is that a one page resume, for a person who has fairly extensive experience, can sell them short. This type of resume will either leave off critical information or it will be typed in a font size that is not easy to read.
Other misconceptions include the use of an objective on the resume and writing detailed job descriptions. A job objective is usually a statement of what the candidate would like to do or the specific job they are seeking. The reason why this is not needed is that the cover letter should express interest in the position and there is no need to state it again. In addition, many objective statements are so specific that the candidate would be ruled out from other potential positions that may be related to the advertised job.
In addition, many jobs I have seen listed on resumes includes wording that either came from job descriptions or have been written like standard wording from these types of descriptions, and that doesn’t necessarily explain the skills the candidate has and may contain jargon that is not easily understood by everyone reading it.
Skill Sets or a Chronological Listing?
Another important decision that has to be made about the development of a resume is the format it should follow and the most common approach is use of a chronological style. This approach lists each job in chronological or date order and the most current job is listed at the top of the page. The inherent problem with this type of resume is that the focus is placed on what the candidate is doing now without drawing attention to the skills that have been acquired throughout their entire career.
My approach to resume writing involves the use of a skill set based approach and that means when a recruiter or hiring manager opens the resume they first read skill sets that have been acquired throughout the candidate’s career. More importantly, the skill sets listed are directly related to the job or career the candidate is interested in. This can change the entire perspective of the candidate when viewed by a potential employer as now they are viewed beyond the current job they hold. This is an especially helpful approach for anyone who is interested in changing jobs or careers.
The Anatomy of a Resume with Impact
What gives a resume impact, with regards to standing out among other resumes submitted? It is a resume that can be easily read, displays skill sets that are immediately identifiable as being related to the advertised position, and highlights important accomplishments and achievements. A chronological resume emphasizes what a person is doing now; whereas, a skill set resume represents what a person can transfer from their entire career to this new role. A resume with impact also lists a professional summary at the beginning, in place of a career objective, and this provides career highlights that are relevant to any position. Finally, a highly effective resume will be well-written and formatted, with meticulous attention given to every minor detail.
Why Invest in a Professional Writer?
Most people are not fully equipped for the task of developing a resume that meets all of the criteria listed above and that is why a professional resume writer is needed. However, my experience has found that a professional writer is not contacted until an attempt has been made to wing it, so to speak, and the results sought have not been obtained. In other words, there have been few or no job calls received. There is a hesitation to pay for the cost of a resume writer, especially when a person is unemployed – and I certainly understand the financial limitations of that situation. What I have found is that anyone who needs a job also needs to make this investment as it is an investment in a career that can yield long term results.
Finding a reliable resume writer is the next challenge for anyone who decides it is time to make the investment. A good resume writer needs to have a history of writing and editing experience, along with knowledge of recruiting and hiring practices. What credentials determine an effective resume writer? There are resume writing certifications available and that certainly demonstrates commitment to the job. My background is different than that as I have advanced education and experience as an educator, writer, and author. The most important element is that anyone who works in this type of industry needs to have some evidence of writing experience.
Another distinguishing feature is the fee that a resume writer charges. I know of many writers who charge exorbitant fees and then guarantee their resumes will produce jobs or job calls. I do not believe that anyone can guarantee results solely based upon the resume; however, what a resume can do is present the best a candidate has to offer and help generate interest. My clients have told me that after receiving a resume I’ve written they started receiving more job calls. It was then up to them to speak well and encourage the potential employer to consider them further. I have also found that another benefit from having a resume professionally written is that it provides a boost of confidence as the person sees themselves in a better light, as they are reminded of the skills and qualities they possess.
I am often asked for resume samples and that is another way I am able to distinguish my resume writing service from others as every resume written is custom made, instead of templates being used. What I can do is to describe my approach to resume writing and provide an overview of the process and format of the new resume. I have also taken another step and had my business certified by the Better Business Bureau as it confirms when the business was founded and provides an overall rating. This does not provide a guarantee of the quality of services provided; however, it does offer some measure of assurance when someone is interested in contracting with me to write their resume.
If you are interested in developing your career, regardless of the type of industry you are presently in or the job you hold now, you need a resume that represents you in the best possible manner. Once you submit a resume you do not get a second chance to resubmit it and what the potential employer views determines their initial impression of you, your career, and your background.
Whether you fill out an online form and upload a resume, or send a resume direct, it must connect you to the potential job by demonstrating you have acquired the necessary skills, training, education, or other similar qualifications. Your resume can either help your prospect of being considered, or cause you to be disqualified. That is the power a resume holds for you and your career.
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson is an academic leader and innovative educator with extensive experience in the field of higher education, along with corporate learning and development.
Dr. J has expertise in higher education administration, adult education, distance learning, online teaching, faculty development, curriculum development, instructional design, organizational learning and development, career coaching, and resume writing.
To learn more about the books and resources that are available for professional development from Dr. J please visit: http://www.drbruceajohnson.com/
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