Four Tips to Power-Up Your Resume

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The job market is tough and it's getting tougher. Your resume is your number one marketing tool and it may not be doing its job - getting you an interview. One reason may be lack of time. With the increased competition for jobs, there is very little time spent reading any one resume. It's been estimated that today's resume is only getting about 20 seconds of "eyeball time". That's not much time to score. In fact, most resumes will get quickly screened out and dumped on the reject pile. The other reason is lack of interest. Most resumes today lack a sense of urgency. They don't answer the all-important question, "What's in it for the employer?" Here are 4 tips on how you can power up your resume for today's more competitive job search arena to overcome these dilemmas. 1. Focused Objective Does your resume have a clear, focused objective? Does it identify one clear job title that you are seeking? Leave out all that nonsense about "challenging opportunity with a dynamic company". Remember, it's not about you. Try this: lead off with a clear statement of the job title you are seeking under the Objective heading. For example, "Chief Financial Officer". Nothing more is needed. 2. Keyword Section Everyone pays lip service to this, but few act on it. If you don't, you're missing the boat in two major ways: Your resume needs to get flagged by a computer. To strengthen your odds, you need every potential keyword working for you. And not just your skill sets, either. Make sure to add all your industry buzzwords as well as your biggest soft skills. Did you know that some of the highest searched keywords today include terms we often overlook? These include "problem-solving", "leadership", and "oral/written communication". You must appeal to the human that reads your resume. A reader will scan a great keyword summary section within the first 20 seconds of looking at your resume. When added to your personal branding statement below, you increase your chances of hooking this reader and getting a more in-depth reading. 3. Personal Branding Statement It doesn't matter whether you're a CFO, a software project manager or a wedding photographer. Answer this question: "What is it that makes you unique from other applicants?" Don't think that just having great skill sets or years of experience is going to give you any edge. Lots of other candidates have the same or better skills as you. The solution is to create a brand for yourself. So how do you create your own brand? Review your resume. Does it have a clear statement that describes who you are and what you offer? This is called a "branding statement" and may also be described as a "value added" or "unique selling proposition". Don't confuse this with a "Summary of Qualifications" section that many candidates like to include. These are merely laundry lists of core competencies and do nothing to make you stand out. A true branding statement is a one-sentence description of who you are and what critical benefit you offer your next employer. It should describe your biggest strength and the resulting benefit to your previous employer. The best branding statements usually incorporate figures in dollars or percentages of money, or time that was gained or saved over a certain period of time. Here is an example for that CFO: "Seasoned Chief Financial Officer strong in optimizing organizations to achieve maximum growth and market share who has produced new revenues or savings of over $65 Million for my employers over the past eight years." Does your resume have this strong a branding statement? If not, think about adding one. It'll take some time to develop a really good statement for yourself. Once done, however, you'll break that 20-second barrier and move that much farther ahead of your competitors. 4. Specific Achievements Companies hire employees to be an asset to their balance sheet. That means your work involves helping a company either make money or save money. Think beyond your skill sets and job duties and think of as many ways as you can as to how you accomplish this. For example, suppose you're a video photographer taping and editing weddings and special events. You take the extra step of performing all of your post-production work before submitting your final results. Your extra effort has saved your employer several hundred hours of additional work. This translates into dollars saved by the employer and it's just this sort of achievement that must be on your resume. When you can, try to monetize, or put a dollar value on your achievements. Our photographer example might look like this: "Saved my employer over $6K in additional labor costs over the past 2 years by performing post-production work before submitting my final results." By including several specific achievements where you've helped your employer make or save money, you separate yourself from your competitors and quickly gain the attention of your reader. Summary As the economy gets tougher, employers expect more from candidates before they hire them. This means more is expected from your resume to make the cut these days. If you add these four crucial elements to your resume, you can power it up to win that phone interview and take a step closer to the job you really want.

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  • Alicia Cuentas
    Alicia Cuentas
    Very good information.
  • Paula Tucker
    Paula Tucker
    This information will be very helpful, especially about the buzz words that employers are looking for and/or that will attract their attention after scanning for 20 seconds.Thank you
  • Charles Duggan
    Charles Duggan
    please mail me a copy of you favorite keywords for Senior Sales Reps to use.Thank you,Charles J. Duggan
  • Hotwire
    Thank you for the great information. Is one branding statement good enough, if the person has a lot of experience in his/her career and has more than one technical expertise that elevated him/her up to one of the highiest positions?  Please let me know.
    Thank you so much for this article.Am a registered nurse by profession.Please am requesting for a draft of a resume for a reistered nurse.Thank you.
    Thank you so much for this pieces of advice.  Kindly am requesting for a draft of a resume thus will be able to draft a new  and also help others out there.  Looking towards your positive response.Thank you so much.Birabwa Rosette.
    I liked this article that was e-mailed to me through another e-mail message. I have worked on my objective and summary of qualifications before, however; this clear statement on the resume seems important to stand out in interviews.
  • esther
    this is a comprehensive information, it has helped me to edit my resume again. thanks
  • Staff Editor
    Staff Editor
    Learn to write powerful resumes with our resume writing tool found here:
  • manigandanvg
    I want to know how to create a powerful resume, my basic qualification is BBA,MSC(IT)
  • Cecilia
    Very good info but I find it hard to make a branding statement when I don't really have a sales background and I haven't really saved employers money. I'm in Public Relations with a graphics background and I've had two 'real' jobs in newspaper and one at a bookstore several years ago. Others were marketing/PR internships. My resume is picked up by mostly marketing companies but I get turned down. I've been blessed to have 12 interviews in four months (two from scam companies) thanks to Yates' "Knock em Dead" books. When in doubt, check but still, no luck yet. I've resorted to applying to retail stores and thinking about joining the military and going back to school for Public Admin.
  • S. Stevens
    S. Stevens
    I appreciate your suggestions although, it is difficult to use career strategies when you are seeking an educator's position. The same strategies do not seem to apply to job seekers like myself. What I have found is that the education industry is not professional in a business style approach to hiring staff.
  • Denise Farrell
    Denise Farrell
    Great information. Clear and Concise.
  • David
    After I read this, I want to throw my resume in the trash. This is what i get for using an example. Any articles about cover letters?
  • Mwikisa
    I have enjoyed the article and am editing my resume right now!
  • Shaun Egan
    Shaun Egan
    To Ann Piasecki:   Might I suggest also spending a few dollars (not many-really!) on a set of books written by Martin Yate? Publisher: Adams Media. He has highly comprehensive suggestions in his "Knock 'em Dead" series and the books cover resume examples, cover letter examples, and his Ultimate Guide to Job Seekers. Like Mr. Turner, these gents really know their stuff. I have used Martin Yate's books for years, purchasing a new set every 2-3 years, just to stay current. Stop by your local bookstore and peruse them while there. If they sound sensible and fit your needs, well; buy them. You can save a lot compared to using a professional service, and I have been quoted anywhere from $300 to $3,000 for that service.Good Luck.
  • Kristina
    This article has helped me to re-craft a few sentences in my resume that I think will help me flag down my potential employer and get them to really notice my uniqueness. Thank you!
  • Randal
    4 simple tips that make sense.
  • ann piasecki
    ann piasecki
    Dear Mr. Turner;I certainly appreciate your insights about resume writing. Might I pester you for a reference of a resume writing professional--someone who would apply and adapt your guidelines in crafting my resume. My professional career is varied as it has evolved from award-winning analytical journalist and editor to social justice advocate/legislative policy analyst. I'm a credentialed English teacher (taught college rhetoric, composition and gammar as an adjunct). Now, at this point, I really don't know what to emphasize. Any suggestions?Thank you    
  • Randi Howell
    Randi Howell
    All of this information is wonderful. It is hard to know what a potential employer is looking for these days. After several interviews I am daunted to find a position to which my skills are in demand. I am a Project Coordinator.My question is, how do you convince them (employers) you are not overqualified for a job when you have all of the skills they need, and more. We will work for pennies on the dollar? The objective is to get the most qualifed (candidates) at the best rate. Highly and "overqualified" job seekers are willing to conceed pay for a job, and the employers do not seem to hear this. Not everyone can or should work at hourly/retail entry-level jobs for the sake of having a job and expect our economy to rebound any time soon. Our country is broke and if we do not change our thinking, our nation will be sold to the lowest bidder. What is wrong with the job market?
  • Carmine
    This is probably the most comprehensive and concise resume tip I've come across in my career change.  And yet, it's so simple that it's easy to see why it's so often overlooked. We sell ourselves short so often with bragging rights, instead of staying with the basics.  Tell the employers what you can do for them.  The Branding Statement should reflect the Resume Title...and yet how many resumes have we sent out with blah...blah...blah engraved just underneath the resume title.  Five stars to you guys.  I know I signed on with you folks for a reason.  Thanks Again.  Carmine :)
  • Christine
    The article is honest and to the point. Very helpful information. Deciding on the best resumes has been difficult. Everyone has an opinion concerning resumes and too many opinions are different.

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