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How to Write a Good Resume For Cost-Conscious Employers

By Peter Weddle

If you're currently in the market for a new job, you know just how generic and impersonal the average resume can be. No matter how much information you cram into it, a standard resume simply cannot convey the character, dedication or capability you offer to an employer. But just because you're surrounded by mediocre resumes doesn't mean you should give up – there is a way remedy this situation and write a good resume that will interest employers. But you'll have to accept a counter-intuitive idea to do it.

The secret of how to write a good resume is to throw out the traditional ideas you've seen in countless resume examples. Instead, you need to write a new version of your resume – one that's best described as an "incomplete record." Ironically, presenting an incomplete portrait of yourself is the only way you can stand out from the crowd in today's competitive job market.

Don't be fooled by the "incomplete" part of this phrase, however. When it comes time to sit down and write, good resume etiquette still applies. You still need to provide a complete description of your work experience and accomplishments, your education and training, and your professional or occupational affiliations and activities (such as any associates you belong to). A good resume must tell employers what you can do, of course, but equally as important, it must also tell them what kind of contribution you can make to their success.

So what makes the "incomplete record" technique different from standard methods used to write a good resume? The majority of the difference is in what you put at the beginning of the document. Regardless of the format you select, an "incomplete record" resume must begin with a Qualifications Summary that appears directly below your name and contact info. This 3 - 4 line section should use relevant resume keywords to highlight your strengths as an applicant. This will ensure that recruiters see your most important job skills, even if they don't read your entire resume.

Of course, plenty of good resumes feature a qualifications summary at the beginning. So what exactly makes the "incomplete record" resume incomplete, and thus unique? You do. In order for a resume to be an "incomplete record," you must first become an incomplete job seeker. This is designed to help employers, who face two challenges when trying to hire good workers:

  1. The skill sets needed to succeed at many modern jobs change frequently as technology evolves.
  2. Employers no longer have the resources to provide training so workers can keep their job skills current.

The result of this challenge is that from an employer's perspective, today's ideal candidates are ones who both understand that their job requirements are constantly changing, and who are willing to take on responsibility for keeping up with those changes. This is where the "incomplete record" resume comes in. You may think you already know how to write a good resume, but the "incomplete record" goes further, by proving that you understand the challenges of the modern workplace. The resume is designed to acknowledge the fact that you always have more to learn in your field, and that you take personal responsibility for your development.

So you already the basics on how to write a good resume. But how do you show continued career growth as well?

One way is to start upgrading your job skills right now. Enroll in an educational or training program to learn new relevant skills. Everyone can get better at what they do, and pursuing self-improvement is the only way to protect yourself from the never ending evolution of the modern workforce. And once you've begun to learn these new skills, all you need to do is make a record of it on your resume.

First, make yourself look "incomplete" by adding the following information to the Education section of your resume:

  1. The name of the course or program you're taking
  2. The institution or organization that's providing it
  3. The term "On-Going"

After that, all you need to do is add some resume keywords to your Qualifications Statement that outline the new skills that you're learning. Those simple entries will convey a powerful message to any prospective employer. It signals that you know you can always get smarter, and that you take personal responsibility for keeping up with the latest trends in your profession.

Beyond just managing to write a good resume, following the "incomplete record" resume writing technique shows employers that you aren't just a skilled job seeker, but a great long-term investment as well. And in today's cost-conscious job market, that may be the most valuable asset of all.


Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Job Bank USA, Peter Weddle is an HR consultant, recruiter, author and commentator with an international reputation. He has authored or edited more than two dozen books, including "Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to Yourself", "Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System" and "WEDDLE's 2009/10 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet". In addition, he oversees WEDDLE's, a print publisher specializing in the field of human resources. WEDDLE's annual Guides and Directory to job boards are recognized for their accuracy and helpfulness, leading the American Staffing Association to call Weddle the "Zagat of the online employment industry." Peter Weddle is also CEO of the International Association of Employment Websites.

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