9 tips to improve your resume

Make your resume more effective with this advice from Ohio Means Jobs' Alaryce Shea.

Make your resume more effective with this advice from Ohio Means Jobs’ Alaryce Shea.

Alaryce Shea of Ohio Means Jobs Lake County offered advice to people looking to improve their resumes Wednesday at Mentor Public Library’s Main Branch.

If you’re job hunting, looking to switch careers or just want to make your resume as effective as possible, you’ll want to see what he recommends.

1. There’s no such thing as a perfect resume. If you ask 10 people what they think of your resume, you’ll get 10 answers and they’ll all contradict each other. Shea recommends asking no more than two people to review your resume. (Of course, you want to make sure those two people know what they’re talking about.)

2. What is the purpose of a resume? It isn’t to get you a job. It doesn’t even get you an interview anymore (though it used to.) No, the purpose of the resume is to get you the phone call or email that leads to the interview. (And the interview will hopefully lead to a job.)

So you need to constantly ask yourself this while writing your resume: “Will this make them want to call me?” It’s great that you speak Russian, sing in the church choir and play jazz piano, but if it doesn’t make them want to call you, then it doesn’t merit inclusion. Does the company mention specific skills in the job opening. Do you have those specific skills? Make sure you mention those specific skills, instead!

3. Big companies don’t read every resume—not even close. Instead, your resume goes into a database. When a position opens, the company searches through the database for certain keywords. If your resume doesn’t have enough of those keywords, your resume doesn’t get read. Even if you would’ve been perfect for that job.

So you need to include those keywords. But how? Do you turn your resume into a Mad Lib where every third word is some phrase you know they want to hear?

Shea recommends adding an extra page to your resume specifically for keywords. Include your name, title it Keywords and simply list your pertinent skills beneath. If you drive a forklift, include keywords like “tow motor” and “forklift.” If you work in marketing, “event planning,” “advertising,” and “graphic design.” Management: “hiring,” “managing,” “budgeted” and so on. (Make sure all of your keywords are true. Don’t say “welding” if you have no idea how to weld.)

This way, your resume is more likely to show up in a keyword search, which will actually get it read.

(Only include the Keywords page if your resume is entering a database. Don’t add it if you’re mailing your resume to someone directly.)

4. There’s more than one type of resume. You have your reverse-chronological resume, which lists your work experience from most recent and concludes with your education. This is the most common type, but not necessarily the most effective. The second is the functional resume, which focuses on accomplishments and skills. (This is especially useful when you’re making a career change.) The third is combination, which (obviously) combines qualifications and employment history. Shea says the combination resume is usually the most effective.

5. Consider how you phrase things. Don’t just list your responsibilities; include accomplishment statements. To phrase it differently—don’t just say what you did, tell them what you did well. Don’t say “managed the budget;” say “through responsible spending, cut _____ from the budget.” Don’t say “taught computer classes;” say “trained thousands of people how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher.”

6. Have a Skills and Qualifications section. List 15 or so of your skills, all of which should be pertinent to the job to which you’re applying. And what is a skill? According to Shea, “If you did it once, can do it again and want to do it again, it’s a skill.” Which leads us to…

7. Have different versions of your resume. Not all of your skills are going to be pertinent to every job you apply for. You know how to use Photoshop? Great. That doesn’t matter if you want to drive the Zamboni. Tailor your resume to the job for which you’re applying.

And, in general, don’t feel the need to include everything. Your resume is a brochure, not an autobiography. If they want to know more, they can call you.

8. It’s good to include your volunteer experience, especially if you haven’t worked in awhile or are changing careers. But you don’t need to list the 32 different organizations in which you’ve participated to show your community-minded. Pick two—the two most pertinent to the job you want. Once again, if they want to know more, they’ll call.

9. I haven’t mentioned objective statements or references yet. That’s because you don’t need them—cover letters either. “References available upon request” is sufficient.

Some final thoughts: write in Arial or Times New Roman fonts, 12 pt.; it’s OK for your resume to be two (or even three) pages; save your resume as a DOC not as a DOCX, PDF or (so help me) WPS; if they ask for a requested salary, answer “open” or “negotiable.” If they demand an actual number, use glassdoor.com as a reference. And, yes, spelling and punctuation matter.

For more help, visit Ohio Means Jobs Lake County at 177 Main Street, Painesville. The phone number is (440) 350-4400.


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