Upgrade Your Resume

By Linda Matias

Sometimes a little goes a long way. With a few minor adjustments, your resume can be improved to the point where it ends up in the callback pile as opposed to the trash bin. There are common mistakes many people make when writing their own resumes, but there are ways to fix or avoid resume blunders and ensure your resume will be read.

Revamp the format

Resume templates are a killer-the worst thing ever to be invented. Since just about every jobseeker uses a MS Word template, the result is that too many resumes have the same look and feel, making it difficult for the reader to differentiate between candidates. When searching for a job, the last thing you want to be is an ordinary, run-of-the-mill applicant.

A distinctive resume format will not only make you stand out from the competition, but make you look more qualified and organized. In truth, how your resume looks is as important as how it reads.

Stick to what is relevant

Since hiring managers don't put much weight on outdated accomplishments, your resume should focus on your last 10-15 years of employment. In addition, there is no need to flesh out jobs that aren't relevant. Eliminating old and irrelevant jobs will provide you with the opportunity to focus on your career objective, making the resume easier to read and less confusing.

Be original

Are you copying resume text from resume books, websites, or even your friend's resume? Though you can use those resources as a guide, simply copying the information isn't a smart move. Chances are you won't be the only one replicating the work of others and once again, you won't stand out from the crowd.

Mix it up a bit

If you find that your resume is written either in paragraph style or in bulleted style only, consider mixing it up a bit. Use a combination of the two. Spell out your responsibilities in a paragraph and mark your achievements in bulleted statements. This formula allows the reader to quickly scan your resume and pick up relevant information quickly. Below is an example:

Promoted to oversee development of corporate/consumer sales and implementation collateral, leading team in building brand awareness across different lines of business. Developed marketing plans and maintained new product/business requirements. Previously managed staff of 22 sales representatives in providing payroll access products and services, with total deposits of $1.5 billion and 312,000 accounts. As Business Manager, monitored 17 sites (with 1 million check cashing volumes annually) and supervised team of 45.

* Strategic Marketing - Created New Hire Orientation Kits, Refer a Friend Program, Cafeteria Marketing and Direct Mail Campaign to continuously attract new consumer accounts. Directed content upgrade for Corporate Intranet Program to WFS Website.

* Business Development- Grew fee-based revenue from $1 million to $1.8 million and spearheaded development of Integrated Sales Process to steer focus towards new business acquisition/expansion and customer retention.

* Internal Team Building - Served on Diversity Council and Channel Integration Team, Transaction Management Project to further company efforts in creating unified, strong teamwork.

* Operational Improvement - Directed openings of 5 standalone CTCC sites; streamlined operations by improving audits/controls, reducing operating losses, closing 3 non-productive sites, re-deploying resources, and recommending subsequently adopted business - branch system integration.

Your resume determines the tone of your job search. With these quick tips in mind, revisit your resume including the layout, verbiage, and overall structure. Then determine if your resume needs a tweak or a complete overhaul.

Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a n umber of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers' Association. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com or email her at linda@careerstrides.com