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How do I write an effective Resume?

There are few topics in college classrooms and professional offices around the world today that are as controversial and divided as what belongs in a resume. I’ve sat through countless classes, workshops, career counseling appointments and read several textbook chapters on how a resume is written and at the end of the day, there is no “right” way to write one; but there is a wrong way. Assuming you have a rough outline of your work experience or a basic resume already, the following tips will help you decide how to showcase your skills in a way that will set you apart from your peers and communicate your value as a potential employee to an employer, without ever meeting or speaking with them.

1. Avoid Using Standard Templates

If the purpose of a resume is to differentiate you from you competition and highlight your unique experience, then why would you use a template that everyone else has? It’s no secret that in a highly digital world where employers have most of the “picking” power, your competition and the number of resumes that are in your potential employer’s inbox have exploded. Using a unique design that easily and efficiently communicates how you would provide value to your potential employer will automatically move your resume up towards the top of the pile. To see a few examples of some great resume designs that will help you stand out from the crowd, check out Job Mob’s suggestions at http://jobmob.co.il/blog/beautiful-resume-ideas-that-work/.

2. Use Color with Purpose

The use of color is a pretty controversial topic in the resume writing community, but if you find yourself applying for a “creative” job, it might be closer to a requirement than an extra. Color is used in the resume design process to highlight graphic design talents and make things like name logos, another option for many resume writers, pop off of the page. However, too much color may reduce the “seriousness” of the message you are trying to convey. If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask someone who might know, but don’t submit a rainbow colored resume without seeking out someone else’s professional opinion.

3. Think Creatively about your accomplishments

For some young professionals, finding work experience that qualifies as “professional” might be harder than someone who has been working for a few years. If you haven’t had an internship or a job that is directly related to your desired position, don’t be afraid to use the work experience that you do have. Common high school and college positions can range from customer service to life guarding and work-study positions, but if you think creatively and ask yourself “what did I do at this position that nobody else can say they did?” your resume will still stand out.

4. Avoid “Cliché” Wording

Kerry Taylor of Squawkfox.com explains how the use of language in a resume can move you from the inbox to the trash can in seconds if you don’t avoid 6 of the most common terms that professionals often make the mistake of using. These terms include:

  • Responsible for… – Too common
  • Experienced – What does your experience entail?
  • Excellent Communication Skills – Why are they excellent? Too vague
  • Team Player – Sports terms aren’t always the best way to go in a professional resume
  • Detail Oriented – What does that even mean?
  • Successful – were you not successful in everything else in your resume?

5. Communicate Results

Bosses what results. Period. The more effectively you can communicate how you have produced results in the past, the more seriously your resume will be considered when it comes to hiring the next “star” in the office. If you have experience in event planning, tell how many people came to the event. If you have experience selling, tell how much you sold. It’s a no-brainer but you might be surprised how many of your peers are using vague language rather than specific numbers and results.

6. Taylor your language to fit the position and the employer

Your resume is your “leave behind.” It’s usually the first impression that an employer has of you before a face to face meeting and it either opens the door for opportunities or falls flat before you even speak with a potential boss. For this reason, it is no longer acceptable to use the same strategies in distributing generic resumes to potential summer employers; everything needs to be customized to fit each job position. From the color to the layout, your resume should be made to communicate specifically with the individual that has the power to hire you. For this reason, don’t be afraid to read the company website or a LinkedIn profile of a company employee to find how what skills they value and how you can taylor your work experience to fit their needs. It takes a lot more work that photocopying 15 copies of the same resume but the potential payoff is worth it.

For additional resources on how to write a killer resume check out the following links:






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