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  • Lori A. Jazvac, MRW

Start 2018 Right with a Complete Résumé Makeover: 10+ Helpful Résumé Tips

A new year is on the horizon.

How will you approach 2018 — with a polished brand and an exceptional résumé that sets you apart or an outdated résumé that leads to few results?

According to the Undercover Recruiter:

  • Recruiters spend an average of 3.14 minutes reading a candidate’s résumé — they have generally made up their mind within the first minute.

  • 1/5 recruiters will actually reject a candidate before reading their entire résumé.

  • 5% of applicants are dishonest when describing their previous roles or professional experience, including dates or timelines.

  • 10% of jobseekers have applied for 50 or more jobs without hearing back.

When it comes to your next career move, doing your research to understand your unique value is the first step. Incorporating best resume writing practices and a customized résumé strategy that features your achievements/solid results is essential to landing at the top of the résumé pile.

The Résumé: Your Career Footprint

Your résumé reflects your career footprint -- your career story -- including relevant experiences, themes, milestones, as well as challenges throughout your career journey. It is strategically designed in a clear and concise, yet authentic fashion. Your résumé is not a 'career obituary,' simply outlining your experience and skills in sequence.

Your resume is a distinct brand marketing tool that you will utilize throughout your career -- not just to apply for jobs. Your résumé can be used for networking, academic program applications, career promotions, board leadership or committee positions, community volunteering roles, presentations, and career forecasting and strategic planning.

A customized résumé package will provide you with an opportunity to make a great first impression and confidently present your new brand to employers and recruiters. It will also serve as the first step to strategically positioning yourself for your next career move.

Perhaps you have been applying to various roles for the past year and have suddenly hit a roadblock. If you’re unsatisfied with the little attention that your resume is receiving, consider this checklist to improve your résumé:

1.) Header & Career Focus. Most résumés lack the most important elements that are positioned on the first page: updated contact information along with career target and brand statement. The career target for higher level roles often includes important information such as P&L managed and direct reports, signaling to employers your level of accountability and expertise.


VP, Information Technology – Fortune 500 Companies

IT Management/Delivery Expert | $500K P&L | 400+ Reports | Global Oversight


Driving technology innovations and scalability while building high-performance teams

2.) Design. One of the first things that catch the employer’s eye about a résumé is not only the formatting, but the design. Does your résumé need an uplift? Consider adding some subtle colour that reflects your brand and make your résumé appealing with simple design changes. Incorporate a few visual images that communicate powerful results. Remember, less is more!

3.) Format. Are you still opting for a functional format, thinking that it will conceal certain employment gaps? Truth is, a functional format may actually do the opposite. With this format, employers may not be able to draw a connection between your skills and achievements and where you have achieved them.

Consider a reverse chronological or hybrid format offering a combination of the reverse chronological and functional résumé formats that will help the employer connect the dots. The hybrid format will allow you to showcase your achievements, skills, and work history in a compelling way. Ensure that the résumé is ATS-friendly and that you have a plain-text version that is easy to scan.

4.) Summary. The summary profile captures a succinct snapshot of your unique value and experience in a few sentences or bullets. Avoid overly lengthy or hard-to-read summaries laden with meaningless adjectives. Include a 'Career Highlights' section with a few key achievements. Demonstrate how you add value.

5.) Core Competencies. Is your core competencies or skills section updated and relevant to the job that you are applying for? If your résumé was created several years ago, your core competency section may be incomplete. Add to your marketable skills. Include technical skills for relevant keywords. Utilize a job search site (i.e. Indeed) to identify core competencies that aligns with your career target.

6.) Professional Experience. The professional experience reflects your career narrative demonstrating the impact that you have created throughout your career history. It does not need to include every single short-term role or significantly older positions, but it must thoughtfully address any gaps and speak to your career target and employer requirements. Outline the nature of the organization or company in one simple line so employers know what type of companies you worked for. * Appeal to employer’s buying motivators. What were you were hired to do?

* Were you recruited, hired, contracted, appointed, or promoted?

* What challenges were you tasked with resolving?

Translate your job descriptions into value-added statements by showing how you meet buying motivators: revenue growth, cost savings, process improvements, efficiencies etc.

7.) Achievements. The professional experience section features the most critical part of the résumé -- your achievements or milestones.

* Use action verbs to lead with metrics or results. Briefly include the backstory or strategy used for each achievement.

* Be careful with overusing common action verbs.

* Identify career stories that you're most proud of.

* Think in terms of Situation-Action-Results.

* Use quantitative information / numbers (e.g. reduced 30% costs) as well as qualitative data.

* Aim for 3-5 bullet points.

* Ensure that you position the most powerful bullets at the top in relation to the career target.

8.) Education. This section needs to be updated with relevant education, courses, training, and certifications showing your marketable skill progression. Education includes both formal and informal learning.

9.) Community Leadership. The biggest mistake that professionals make is skipping this section as it communicates important leadership skills and achievements. Feature any relevant volunteering experience and professional affiliations.

10.) Publications & Presentations. This section can highlight any publications or presentations delivered that will highlight significant skills and accomplishments.

Bonus Tips:

  • When reading your résumé, ask yourself — whether your eye is drawn to where you want the employer to read? Does the résumé highlight your authentic value?

  • Does your résumé spell solid results, informing employers how you can meet their strategic goals?

  • Proofread thoroughly for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Those spelling grammars or typos may screen you out or invite questions by employers.

  • Include white space in résumé for legibility. Balance content and presentation.

  • Add polishing touches to ensure that your résumé is customized towards your career target and employer’s requirements, and that it articulates your value.

  • Removing unnecessary content will improve readability and presentation.

  • Ensure that your résumé is consistent with social media profiles (LinkedIn).

Invest in a stellar master-level résumé package or portfolio (see my Deluxe Career Package that includes LinkedIn) and position yourself for career success in 2018!

For more information, contact Lori Jazvac, Master Resume Writer/Career Consultant at Creative Horizons Communications –– providing strategic solutions to enhance your career success!

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