What Makes a Resume GREAT?

There is no “template” or formatting of a perfect resume.

Let that set in for a moment.


Next week, Thursday, August 13th, DFWCareerpilot will explore the development of in-sync Personal Marketing ‘collateral materials,’ most significantly the epicenter called your resume.


Most jobseekers have experienced the Internet’s ‘black hole’ in resume reception and feedback.  Sure, you could listen to any number of ‘experts’ on making it through the digital screening process of today’s world of recruitment…OR you can accept the fact that a resume that is requested by a real human being is viewed and acted upon more often.


FACT: Your best ‘unique identifier’ for any database your resume has found its way to is your name and contact information… it helps an employer find YOU, as opposed to anyone who FITs their screening profile (keyword match…a ‘hit’).  So, THE most effective strategy of being found and acted upon is to be personally known within an organization’s recruitment circle.  Simple solution?  Network your way to an opportunity before applying for it!


The point being, you’re the one who needs to decide if your résumé is ready to go. Do you want to drive yourself nuts by having a slew of people give you their “expert” advice, revising your résumé twenty times over? Or do you want to take your destiny into your own hands? Now, there are certain rules on writing effective résumés that you should heed in no particular order. These are ten sure things that need to be in place to offer you the best chance of success…in BOTH the digital world AND the ‘REAL world’ of recruitment.

1. Quantifiable results are a must. Employers are not interested in a grocery list of responsibilities (strategic) or duties (tactical); they’re drawn to evidence of what you’ve actually DONE. It’s always stronger to incorporate significant accomplishments that are quantified with numbers, dollars, and percentages.

2. Closely related to #1… Please no clichés or unsubstantiated adaptive skills. The new rule is to show rather than tell. Yes, you may be innovative; but what makes you innovative? Did you develop a program for inner-city youth that promoted a cooperative environment, reducing violent crime by 50%? If so, state it in your profile as such.

3. Tailor your résumé to each job, when possible. Employers don’t want a one-fits-all résumé that doesn’t address their needs or follow the job description. It’s insulting… Start with your positioning statement,’ clearly specified, including keywords that an employer might use to “find” you.

4. Your résumé needs to show relevance. Employers are interested in the past 10 or 15 years of your work history; in some cases less. Age discrimination may also be a concern, so don’t show all 25-30 years of your work life with equal use of vertical space. Following your Positioning Statement, a ‘qualification summary‘ can help the reader quickly determine interest in your ability to meet their needs.  In this manner, your ‘professional experience’ can be written to show that you not only meet their screening requirements, but can perform to their true expectations of performance.

5. Keywords are essential for certain occupations that are technical, or functionally specific in nature. They’re the difference between being found at the top of the list or not at all. Again, you simply must have your keywords peppered throughout their résumé.

6. Size matters. The general rule is two pages are appropriate providing you have the experience and accomplishments to back it up. More than two pages requires extensive experience. In some cases a one-page résumé will do the job. Your use of the available ‘vertical space’ is the key.

7. No employer cares what you want. That’s right; employers care about what they want and need. If you happen to care what they want and can solve their problems and make them look good, they’ll love you. So drop the meaningless objective statement that generally reads, “Seeking a position in a progressive company where I can utilize my experience and skill to grow along with the organization.”

8. Make it easy to read. Your résumé should not only be visually appealing, it should be visually readable. Employers who read hundreds of résumé s will glance at them for as few as 10-15 seconds before making their YES-no–Maybe determination… before deciding to read them at length. Make your résumé scannable by writing shorter word blocks, three to four lines at most. Keep your bullets flush left… and no excessive graphics/fonts.

9. Make sure your accomplishment “bullets” are in-sync with your Qualification SUMMARY.  No excess baggage…everything in your resume should support your candidacy.

10. WOW them. Use WAR stories, told in brief statements in your professional experience section in the form of accomplishments. That’s right, grab their attention with quantified accomplishments early on.

(What did you face)… Volunteered to assume the duties of…

(Actions taken) website development and design, while also excelling at pubic relations,

(Results) resulting in $50,000 in savings for the company.

Such strong statements will entice the reviewer to continue reading. And, as a bonus, will trigger the right questions to keep the conversation in a FITting mode during an interview.

At some point you need to go with what works—a document that will land you interviews. It may not even be a formal resume or CV.  It could be a BIO or a well-written letter of introduction.  I don’t care if it’s written on a napkin and delivered in a Starbucks’ cup (it’s been done). If it’s getting you interviews, go with it.

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