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A resume is designed to highlight your skills, education and experience. Its purpose is to get you a job interview, during which time you can explain your qualifications in greater detail.
1. Study the Job Announcement
On average, a hiring manager looks at a resume for 6 seconds before deciding whether to read further or give it a pass. Use words and phrases from the job announcement to show how your qualifications meet the employer’s needs.
2. Look at Online Resume Examples
Jobs websites such as Monster, CareerBuilder, JobHero and Indeed have resume tips and examples you can access for free. Study resume phrases for customer service, for example, if you’re applying for a job in that field. Just don’t copy any resume word for word, since hiring managers are usually quite familiar with these websites too.
3. Put Your Contact Information First
Create a heading with your name, phone number and email address. Be consistent with your name in the job search process. You don’t have to use “Elizabeth,” for example, if you always go by “Liz.” If you have a common name, use your middle initial to distinguish yourself.
It’s not necessary to put your street or mailing address on the resume, as an employer is unlikely to contact you that way. Employers will probably call you during regular business hours, so list a phone number where you can be reached during the day. For most people, that’s a mobile phone. Do not use the number of your current employer if you have one. You’re sending the wrong message if you’re looking for work on your boss’s time. Make sure you have a professional email address, or create a separate email account for the job search.
4. Use Action Words and Phrases
Hiring managers want to know what you can do. When describing your work experience, avoid a weak phrase such as “responsible for.” It only says what you were supposed to do, not what you actually did. The following examples can be applicable to a variety of positions and industries.
- Communicated effectively
- Demonstrated ability to multi-task
- Designated “Employee of the Month”
- Displayed analytical and problem-solving skills
- Entered data with consistent accuracy
- Initiated new ideas
- Made maximum use of allocated funds
- Maintained confidentiality
- Met precise standards
- Worked well independently and as a team member
5. Demonstrate Achievements
When possible, describe how you made a difference in a previous position. Employers want to know how well you can do the job, which can help them save time and money. For example, you might be able to say:
- Helped increase customer satisfaction ratings by 15 percent
- Improved employee retention rates by 20 percent with new training program
- Reduced paper use by 10 percent
- Reorganized filing system to improve efficiency
6. Use Resume Phrases for Leadership
Demonstrate leadership potential and experience for phrases such as:
- Effectively delegated tasks to team members
- Experienced managing diverse groups of people
- Evaluated team members and provided feedback
- Maintained workplace harmony and morale
- Promoted quality standards
- Resolved conflicts
7. Include “Soft” Skills
When employers talk about “soft” skills, they are referring to skills that are akin to personality traits. Although soft skills can be developed, many people acquire them through the course of their upbringing and daily lives. They work well as resume phrases for the position of cashier, for example, even if you don’t have any prior work experience. Words that describe such positive attributes on a resume include the following:
8. Be Concise
Avoid padding your resume with too many descriptive words and phrases. Choose the ones that best describe what you have to offer, and you’ll maximize your chances of getting called for an interview.
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.