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Resume Checklist – Guidelines to Get Noticed FAST!

Your resume can do a lot more than land you a job interview. It can also help position you as the top candidate going into interviews, and even help you get a higher starting salary which could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

So how do you know if you’ve written your resume correctly so it gives you a leading edge over other job candidates? Below is a resume checklist with ten strategies to help you write your resume and put yourself in high demand in today’s job market.

1. Showcase key words. Key words are those skills listed as the job requirements in the job postings. Key words are different for every job so you need to look closely at the job description. Then, showcase all of those requirements that you meet in a section called Key Strengths, right underneath the Objective section.

2. Show results. This is the single biggest difference in making your resume stand out from all the other thousands of resumes. I do this myself, and I know this is why I get the interviews. Underneath your Key Strengths section, I list 4-5 career highlights that are results focused.

Quantify each of your career highlights in terms of dollars, percentages, or numbers. For example, let’s say that you’re in sales and you’ve brought in an average of 10 new clients per month. That’s 120 clients a year, and if you’ve been doing that for the past 3 years, that’s 360 new clients! So one of your career highlights could be, Gained approximately 360 new clients which generated $360,000 in new revenue in three years.

Also, try to quantify each of your accomplishments for every job that you list in the Experience section.

3. Show leadership and teamwork. Hiring managers look for candidates who are strong leaders, AND strong team contributors. Someone who can lead, as well as be led. So highlight your leadership skills – and what the results were with the projects and teams that you’ve led. If you’re just started out in your career and haven’t led any projects or teams, then highlight any leadership experience you may have had in professional organizations, a sports league, in church, or any other extra-curricular activities. Also, list projects in which you were a strong team member in terms of what your role was, and what the team accomplished.

4. Be specific and clear. Don’t waste your resume space (or the hiring manager’s time) by using “filler” words or vague overarching comments like, “received awards for various contributions,” or “launched several products.” List the specific awards you received, or the names of the products you’ve launched. This gives your resume substance and credibility.

Don’t worry if it’s a product nobody’s heard about or is difficult to explain on your resume. You want the hiring manager to be curious about you. That’s why they have interviews – so they can get more information about your qualifications. Be brief. Be specific. And give them enough information that will leave them wanting more.

5. Showcase yourself at the right level. I review a lot of resumes and more times than not, the resume reflects the job candidate at a much lower level than what they really are. Use strong verbs like: managed, supervised, led, orchestrated, etc.

Also, sometimes less is more. You don’t need to include every job role you’ve ever had on your resume. When you keep lower level jobs on your resume, it brings your whole career level down a notch. And conversely, when you delete some of those lower level roles and focus on those jobs where you had more responsibilities and more significant accomplishments – you’re perceived at a level higher.

6. Use the correct format. There’s a chronological format, and there’s a skills-based format. Be sure to use the format that showcases you in the best way possible. Also, if you’re applying for a position posted on an on-line job board, like Monster or CareerBuilder, then make sure you use the text only format.

7. Always be truthful. The last thing you want to do is to overstate what you’ve accomplished and get into a job that you’re unqualified and inexperienced. Also, don’t be embarrassed if you have any gaps in employment. It is completely normal to have gaps. Life happens. Hiring managers understand this. If you took a break for more than a year, then just list the years and write next it, Career Break.

8. Relevant, targeted and customized. Employers don’t have time to read about every single skill and job that you’ve ever had. They just want to know, are you qualified to do their job? So spotlight only those skills and responsibilities that directly relate to that position.

Customize your resume to go for the job and company you want. A hiring manager will notice you so much more if your resume is specifically targeted to that position for which you are applying.

9. Write a personalized cover letter. Hiring managers form their first impression of you based on your resume and cover letter. So the last thing you want to do is send out a generic, mass mailing cover letter. It should be short, direct, state your key accomplishments, and be enthusiastic. Make it personal and be specific why you are passionate about going to work for that particular company.

10. Get a professional resume critique. Studies show that your resume has about 20-seconds in the hands of a hiring manager before it gets tossed into the maybe pile, or into the trash. So it needs to make a great first impression! Think of it this way – when you walk into an interview you want to make a great first impression so you’re going to dress well, wear a great pair of shoes, you’re going to smile more, etc. Well your resume needs to do the same thing.

You may think that your resume is sharp looking, but are you confident it’s going to help you stand out from your competition? Invest in having your resume professionally critiqued. Getting some personalized recommendations from a resume expert could not only get you more high quality job interviews, but it may also help position you at a higher level which could mean getting a higher starting salary!

Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand.” Career Coaching 360 Career Coaching provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.

Image taken on 2009-09-28 15:25:33. Image Source. (Used with permission)

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