For more than 20 years, "Résumé Magic" author Susan Britton Whitcomb has helped thousands of people better manage their job hunts and careers. The job market has changed substantially during this time, but what hasn't changed are many of the obstacles job seekers struggle to overcome in their quest for employment. For example, one of the most common weaknesses people have in the job search is a lack of understanding about how to write a résumé that succinctly tells employers what they can do that other candidates can't.
Not only does Whitcomb help job seekers overcome this problem, she also lends guidance to other career professionals like herself who have their own job-seeking clients. Below are a few of the résumé strategies she shares that have been especially effective in helping job seekers capture employers' attention and secure interviews.
1. Write like an advertising copywriter, not an autobiographer.
2. Connect with the employer by targeting positions that capture elements of your Master F.I.T.™ (Function and Fulfillment; Industry/Interests and Identity; and Things That Matter and Type). These positions should be consistent with your career brand. Who you are should align closely with what you want to do.
3. Zero in on what the employer needs by reviewing position postings, networking (in person or online) or conducting research or informational interviews. These needs can be categorized as TOP issues: Trends, Opportunities and Problems/Projects.
4. Substantiate your ability to do the job and meet the needs by including numbers-driven results. Make an economic case for hiring you.
5. Omit extraneous information -- employers looking for a sales professional will rarely care that your degree is in Home Economics (list the bachelor's degree but not the subject area).
- Create multiple résumés for multiple targets -- one résumé will suffice for the targets of sales and business development; two résumés are appropriate for unrelated targets, such as sales and procurement.
- Position critical information (such as keywords and accomplishments) in the first third of the page. Briefly summarize or omit dated information.
- Prioritize the sentences that comprise your job description -- place the most relevant information first and less relevant information last.
- Spin information to be as transferable as possible. If an employer needs someone who can make electronic widgets and your background involves only mechanical widgets, refer to your experience with "widgets" rather than "mechanical widgets."
- Use your résumé wisely -- it plays a supporting role and is not the star of your job search show. Too often, job seekers hide behind résumés, thinking that if they just mail or e-mail enough résumés, a job will materialize. Yes, it's appropriate to e-mail résumés or post them on your target companies' websites. But you must combine these activities with extreme networking. Humans make hiring decisions -- get face-to-face with employers and show them you can meet their needs. This will give you an edge over your competition.