Built for speed

Your resume should quickly showcase your talent

Posted: Sunday, January 28, 2007

Does your resume read like chloroform in print? It may be time for a makeover. Employers often spend less than a minute - in many cases, a matter of seconds - reviewing applications. Competition is abundant, and the difference between your resume ending up in the "Gotta Call" or "Not at All" pile is all in the delivery.

One-in-four human resource managers recently surveyed by CareerBuilder.com reported that they receive more than 50 resumes, on average, for each open position. Thirteen percent said they typically receive more than 100 resumes.

"To stand out from the crowd, you need to think like an employer and follow some basic dos and don'ts," said Liz Harvey, consumer products director for CareerBuilder.com. "Include popular keywords and industry speak. Showcase how you put your skills into action at previous companies. Avoid spamming employers and take advantage of resources to help you craft and promote what your worth."

Do speak the language

HR managers frequently search for keywords related to skills, training, degrees and experience when screening resumes either electronically or with their own eyes. Pepper in keywords from the company's job posting, use industry-specific jargon and incorporate a few the following top-searched keywords as they apply:

l Problem solving/decision making

l Leadership

l Oral/written communications

l Team-building

l Performance and productivity improvement

Do play the match game

When evaluating candidates' applications, 77 percent of HR managers said the most important element they look for is relevant experience. The experience doesn't necessarily have to be in their particular industry or field, so transferable skills are considered as well. The key is showing why you're a good match.

l Use bullets to call to attention contributions you've made to previous companies, quantifying results when possible. Nearly half of HR managers (48 percent) said the ability to demonstrate specific accomplishments is critical in a resume because it is indicative of the value the candidate can potentially bring to the organization.

Don't serve up spam

Aside from spelling errors, resumes that are not customized to an open position is the biggest pet peeve for HR managers, according to the survey. Sending out a blanket resume to 100 employers in the hopes that something will stick is not the way to get noticed. Employers smell spam a mile away and are likely to send you straight to the recycling bin.

Don't serve up fudge either

Catching a lie on a resume, even a minor embellishment, raises a red flag about a candidate's overall ethics. Forty-three percent of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder.com last year said they would automatically dismiss a candidate who fibbed on their resume. Keep it real.

Don't talk about your paper route

Another fatal error on resumes, according to one in five HR managers, is including too many insignificant details. HR managers are only interested in information that is related to their open position. Including details on your childhood paper route probably won't matter. And unless you are a C-level executive or in the scientific field, your resume should typically be limited to two pages.

Get a second opinion

To avoid these errors and create resumes that get results, consider employing professional help. CareerBuilder.com launched cbResume, a new resume writing service that pairs jobs seekers with a board-certified writer who specializes in resumes for a particular industry, field and level of experience.

At cbResume.com, job seekers can choose from three packages:

1. Executive Resume - for director to C-level candidates.

2. Professional Resume - for workers with 2-plus years of experience in the workforce.

3. Collegiate Resume - for recent graduates or workers with 0-2 years of experience.

After selecting a package, you receive a link to a questionnaire that asks about your professional background, responsibilities, career highlights and future goals. Once submitted, you are then taken to an interactive site that facilitates ongoing communications with your assigned writer who will tailor your resume to your strengths and career aspirations. Satisfaction is guaranteed as the writer will continue to edit the resume until you feel it meets your job search needs.

You receive the finished resume in both plain-text and Microsoft Word formats, and the resume is then posted to CareerBuilder.com's resume database if desired.

If you want to expand further on your communications, you can also opt to purchase a targeted cover letter, thank you letter or comprehensive listing of references.

"You have a small window to make a lasting impression," Harvey said. "cbResume helps job seekers highlight the right information to catch employers' eyes and make job searching faster and more effective."

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