Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Four Focus Areas for a Fantastic Resume

Constructing a resume is easy...constructing a great resume is hard. This is the wisdom I impart to soften the blow for those on the receiving end of one of my resume critiques. Writing a resume well takes a certain skills set, one that isn't impossible to learn but must be practiced with dedication to master. For those that find writing a resume daunting, below are areas that I suggest focusing on along with some proverbial saw-sharpening resources to make the task easier.

Personal Mission: It might seem counterintuitive to work on a personal mission statement but indulge me when I say there is no better time to get in touch with your values and sense of professional purpose than when you are creating your marketing document. Franklin Covey has a great personal mission building tool, and Quintessential Careers, a site rich in resources, walks you through the personal mission process in five steps.

Grammar: You don't have to be Steinbeck or Fitzgerald to write a strong resume; you just need to follow the conventions of resume grammar. This Canadian website offers a great foundation for how grammar functions in a resume and the comically-named Grammar Monster offers grammar quizzes and an excellent section on easily-confused words (think 'there' vs 'their').

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: To appropriately frame your work experience to what's expected in the position, O*NET provides a wealth of coded and categorized information on different positions, rich with data and descriptions of essential job functions. A more dense but comprehensive vocational analysis is published yearly in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Many companies utilize machines that scan a resume for keywords that pertain to the requirements of the position; these resources can help you craft a relevant for any position to which you apply.

Power Words: Finally, a great bank of power words to give your resume vitality and individuality can be found on the Money Zine website here. And I would be remiss if I didn't point out the value found in this well-crafted blog post from the Daily Leap.

To reap the reward, you have to do the work! If creating a new resume, break your writing up into these four focus areas for success, or use them to self-evaluate the content of your current resume. Be honest with yourself and strive for creating that fantastic fit!

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