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Tailor, Tailor, Tailor Your Resumes

resume on a desk By Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

Responding to all job listings with your one, perfect resume is a sure way to commit job-search suicide, even if you've created a tailored cover letter.

Potential employers want to know specifically what you can do for them, so if you craft your resume for each opening, the screener is more likely to note the difference and give you the opportunity to talk in person. Here are some time-tested guidelines for writing a tailored resume:

  • Begin by stating a specific objective
  • Example: "Credit analyst for Alpha Corp." Then make sure the rest of your resume speaks to this position.

  • If you use a qualifications summary, it must be specific to your job objective
  • Phrases like "Results oriented," "Hands-on" and "People person" have become clich├ęs, so don't use them.

  • Put the most important facts on the top two-thirds of the first page
  • Remember, you're hitting the high points here, not telling a life story.

  • A listing of job titles and duties can be pretty boring to read
  • On the other hand, accomplishments that outline your unique contribution put real sizzle into your resume. Use action verbs such as collaborated, designed, planned, developed, initiated, sold, mentored, etc.

  • Quantify whenever you can
  • Mentioning that you increased territory sales by 50% in one year or managed and decreased expenses by 20% through operational efficiencies tends to capture the reader's attention.

  • Name-dropping also can be useful
  • If you've worked with highly respected clients, give their names. If your responsibility covered an eight-state area, mention it.

  • Lead with your strongest suit
  • When you're listing your current or previous job title, company and dates of employment, think about which would be most impressive to the reader and put that first or in bold type or italics. (Dates rarely deserve this honor.)

  • Use an outline format rather than paragraphs
  • Information grouped in more than 3-4 line clumps looks onerous, especially if the recruiter is reading through dozens of resumes.

  • Include continuing education along with your degree(s) in the Education section
  • Savvy employers will appreciate your efforts to keep current with state-of-the-art developments.

  • If you have volunteer work or a hobby that you're passionate about, mention it under Other Facts
  • You never know when the reader is an avid snowboarder or hiker too.

taunee besson Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search, executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is an award-winning columnist for and a best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a number of other websites and publications.

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