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How to Create a Resume that Wins a Job Interview

By Edited Oct 27, 2016 1 0

Need Resume Writing Help?

Need Resume Help?

If you want to win an interview for a job you’re applying for, an effective resume is essential, but few applicants understand how to create a resume that will get them that coveted interview. A resume is not a work history. It’s a self-marketing tool specifically designed to present your appropriate skills, areas of knowledge, education, and value to a potential employer. As such, your resume shows what you’ve accomplished in the past and the specific achievements, strengths, and capabilities that can benefit that employer.

In today’s business climate, competition for an interview is tougher than it used to be. An employer might receive dozens of applications for the same job position. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to catch an employment manager’s attention. If you don’t stand out from all of the other applicants, your resume is more likely to end up in the discard pile in less than 30 seconds. If you're looking for resume writing help, it’s extremely important that you understand what to put into your job resume as well as what to leave out.

Writing a Resume Begins With a Job Target

The purpose of writing a resume is to secure a job interview. It’s not to get a job. An interview gives you the opportunity to personally demonstrate your potential. It’s where you’ll be asked for the details that aren’t in your resume. A resume gives an employer a quick idea about whether you’re a suitable candidate for the open position, and whether it would be worth their time to talk to you further. They want to know what makes you special and how you can benefit their company.

For that reason, you need to know exactly what job you’re applying for, as well as all of the skills, requirements, and desired abilities that go along with that job. Creating a standard resume that doesn’t reveal what you can do for them isn’t likely to win you an interview. An employer wants to know what makes you different and how your past accomplishments can help that company cut costs, increase production, or improve product quality.

If you need resume help, the first step is to carefully check out a potential employer’s advertisement and the job description that goes along with that position. Once you know the skills they’re looking for, you can begin to brainstorm your past employment experience, volunteer work, educational background, and current personal knowledge to find relevant examples of skills, experience, and accomplishments that are related to the job target. It is essential to create a resume that shows how you can meet that company’s needs.

Creating an Effective Resume Requires Strict Relevance

Stack of Resumes: You Have 30 Seconds to Catch Their Attention

When you don’t understand the purpose for creating a resume, you’re more likely to end up with a document that lists all of your work experiences, job positions and titles, educational background, personal interests, career highlights, and professional skills whether they pertain to the current job you’re applying for, or not. You might print out the same basic resume and send it to a wide variety of companies, hoping for an interview.

While it’s a good idea to create a generic resume as a template to work from, all of the information you put into a specific resume must be strictly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Out-dated information, nonessential work experience, computer skills, community involvement, and hobbies not related to that specific job only get in the way of showing the employer the possible contribution you can make to their company.

Writing a resume isn’t about broadcasting all of your achievements and professional background. It’s about calling attention to the specific skills, past job history, and personal knowledge that closely align with the needs addressed in the job advertisement or description. It’s about formatting your resume with respect for the reader’s time. When you put forth only your best attributes and capacities that match what that company is looking for, you can’t help but show that you are the best candidate for the job.

For Best Resume Writing, Focus on Action Verbs, Spelling, and Grammar

Learning how to create a resume isn’t difficult, but the specific words you choose can make a big difference in the quality and effectiveness of the finished product. Whenever possible, try to use action verbs that involve the reader’s senses. These action verbs should focus on your abilities and past experiences, so they should be in past tense. Examples of appropriate action verbs include:

  • accomplished
  • assisted
  • completed
  • cut
  • decreased
  • developed
  • directed
  • founded
  • guided
  • implemented
  • increased
  • launched
  • managed
  • reduced
  • saved
  • set-up
  • slashed
  • solved
  • transformed

In addition, try not to use the words “I” or “me.” Your resume should focus on the company you’re applying to, and not yourself. Resumes are used as a screening tool. They offer a potential employer a bit of insight into your character and abilities.

Choosing specific words that detail your contribution to past jobs can help you win an interview, but beware of misspellings, inappropriate grammar, and clichés. They will mark you as a person who is not careful, doesn’t pay attention to detail, is poorly educated, or even lazy. Therefore, it is not a good idea to rely on grammar or spelling checkers either. It’s much better to have a friend or associate look over your resume for you, if you’re not confident in your spelling and grammar ability.

Resume Formats or Types

Several formats traditionally make up a job resume. These formats fall into one of three major types: chronological, functional, or a combination of the two. Which type of format you decide to use will depend on how closely your qualifications align with the job you’re applying for.

Chronological Format: A chronological resume highlights your work history and organizes it to show that history in chronological order. The order is always reversed, with your last job (or your current job) listed first. The benefit of this type of resume format is that a potential employer can see exactly what you did and when. Plus, you can expand on what you listed in your summary with a couple of extra details.

Functional Format: A functional format places more emphasis on your skills and experiences that might look a bit scattered if you were to list them in your work history chronologically. Since your focus should be on adding relevant details, that can leave a few holes in the timeline. While this type of resume is often a red flag to prospective employers who are looking for consistency, the best way to create a great resume is to put yourself in the best light that you can. A functional format can showcase volunteer work, personal hobbies, research, and skills that are specifically related to the job in question, but might be missing from your physical job history.

Combination Format: This resume type is used quite often because it takes advantage of both chronological and functional styles. It can be used to highlight the best you have to offer, cluster related experiences, and still allow for breaks in date continuity. By combining the best of both resume formats, you can help eliminate or minimize unrelated information and spotlight only what’s relevant.

How to Create a Resume

Resume Formats Come in Three Types

Employers want to know how good you are at doing your job. They want to know what you’ve done in the past for other companies, and whether those accomplishments can be put to good use for them. Except for your name, contact information, summary or objective, the order in which you place the following resume elements are variable. Many of these elements are optional and their presence will depend on the type of resume you’ve decided to create.

If you’re serious about winning a job interview, you need to show the employment manager just how good you are. To do that, you need to be specific. Don’t simply relate that you worked with developmentally disabled adults in a workshop setting and improved their production rate. State exact percentages or numbers to show your potential employer exactly what you did:

“Worked with low-functioning developmentally disabled adults in a teaching capacity, one-on-one, which resulted in increasing their rate of production from 2 percent to 10 percent within three years.”

In addition, don’t make the hiring manager hunt for needed information. Traditionally, a resume is skimmed. It isn’t actually read, so you’ll want to place the most important aspects of your resume at the top of each section and bold anything you want to call attention to. That includes section headings, company names, job titles, and anything else that’s important such as length of work experience.

Name and Contact Information

Your name and contact information always goes at the top of your resume, bolded for emphasis. Contact information is especially important because the interviewer needs to be able to easily contact you. If you’re rarely home, don’t use your home phone number. Provide an email address or cell phone number. You don’t want to lose an interview because the company is having difficulty reaching you. But you also don't want to lose an interview because your email address is cute or reflects negatively on you.

General Overview

The best way to catch the hiring manager’s attention is to place a small summary paragraph at the beginning of your resume, just below your name and contact information. This section shouldn’t be lengthy. It should only consist of a few of your best accomplishments or character traits, handpicked to zero in on what the company is specifically looking for. You don’t have to call it General Overview. You can call it a  Resume Objective, a Summary, or use any title you like. Share how many years experience you have in the field, the job you’re specifically looking for, and whatever it is that makes you special and unique.

Skills and Specific Experience

This section can be used to list your specific skills in a bulleted or numbered list. Since your work history doesn’t need to go back further than 10 years, it’s a great way to bring out specific skills, training, certificates, seminars you’ve attended, or experience with specific tools or hardware that isn’t reflected in your actual work history.

Alternatively, a Functional Format would divide this section up into various categories of experience, and then describe how each category pertains to the job in question. Categories might include special projects, what you did to improve a company’s situation, how you slashed costs, increased revenue, or things you’ve done that you’re proud of.

Work Experience

This category includes the name of the company you worked for, a contact name and phone number if available, dates if you’re running your experience chronologically, and any specific duties related to the job you’re applying for. Don’t get caught up in job responsibilities. The focus of your resume should be on how you can benefit or fulfill your potential employer’s needs. You don’t have to list everything you did for a previous company. Pick a couple of things that make you stand out from other employees.

For example, if you’re applying to be a Journeyman Carpenter for a large construction company, sharing that you assisted in the reconstruction of a 100-year-old complex from the ground up would be relevant. Revealing that you worked as a temporary worker for a trash company or assisted in caring for windmills when you were younger would not.

Always keep what you place in your resume relevant to the job you’re applying for. If that means you need to eliminate the dates of your employment history and drop a couple of employers in order to keep your resume looking consistent, then do that.

Additional Work References

This section would highlight individuals and companies who could verify the quality of your work. You could use this if you were in business for yourself for many years and needed to verify what you did during that time. If you have professional contacts in the same field of work, you could also drop their names here.

Resume Services, Templates, and Samples

Resume Writing Service Offers Resume Writing Help

If you need additional resume help, you have many choices when considering how to create a professional looking resume. Some of these choices include resume building services, free online templates, and professional resume samples. For those who lack writing skills, there are also resume writing services available to help you create a resume that looks more professional.

However, many online tools do not give you the ability to fine-tune your resume to fit your specific situation. Although they are easy to use and often free of charge, the result is a cookie-cutter type resume that can quickly brand you as a follower rather than a leader.

10 Rules for Constructing an Effective Resume

When it comes to creating an effective resume, there is no set form that must be followed. Exceptional writing skills are not required. Employers are looking for clarity, relevance, and how you might be able to benefit the company. They aren’t looking for colored paper, fancy words, or decorative fonts.

They simply want to know what you can do for them. They want to know if you’re a perfect fit for the job. In the following video, you'll find 10 rules for construcing an effect resume. Learn them, and practise them. If you can give your potential employer what they’re looking for in a clear yet simple style, that coveted interview can be yours.

How to Write an Effective Resume -- 10 Rules

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Bibliography

  1. "Introduction to and Expectations for Resumes." Purdue Online Writing Lab. 11/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "How to Write a Resume." University of Pittsburg, Arts & Sciences. 11/04/2013 <Web >
  3. "Career Planning Guide 2010: How to Write Resumes." Princeton University Career Services. 11/04/2013 <Web >

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