by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger
Sometimes -- say, during the dot-com era of a decade ago -- all a job seeker needs is a simple, one-size-fits-all resume to nab a job, or at least an interview, in his or her field.
Not so today.
Your written workplace history must honed, polished, crafted and targeted for you to compete in a job market where, according to John Owen, a metro marketing manager for the Washington office of recruitment firm Robert Half International, an employer posting an opening on a major job search Web site can receive as many as 700 resumes for one position.
The classic, all-purpose resume -- a single page of white or cream-colored twenty-pound bond paper, name at the top, “objective” line and a brief, reverse chronological history of every job you’ve held since high school -- isn’t going to grab anyone’s attention.
That doesn’t mean you need to submit a pink, scented resume a la Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” -- but you do need something special.
What, exactly? Hiring experts agree that the best way to get the attention of your dream employer is to create an achievement-based, employer-targeted resume. Focus on a few key tactics, they say, and your phone will soon ring with invitations to interviews.
It’s about your achievements
“The one word job hunters must focus on today is ‘achievement,’” says Penelope Trunk, author of the popular job advice blog Brazen Careerist. “Employers want to know what you achieved in your prior jobs, not just your job title and where you worked.”
About half of the candidates qualified for a given position fail to find their way to the top of the stack because they don’t follow that advice.
How can you create an achievement-based missive? Quantify the benefits you brought to your current and past employers. Your title may have been “Assistant to the Manager of Managing,” but that doesn’t tell anyone about your accomplishments or skills. In creating an achievement-based resume, ask yourself questions like:
Did I increase sales or profits?
Did I create or implement a program that reduced turnover?
Did I supervise a staff?
Did I take the lead on a significant project that increased my employer’s profile?
Once you start thinking about your past work achievements in this way, you can illustrate to prospective employers why and how you intend to bring value to their organization.
Sound daunting? Not if you invest the time. Suppose, for example, you’re currently working at a video store and looking for a move up the career ladder. You’re not going to get a lot of response to a resume that reads, “Watched movies and restocked shelves.”
But if you can truthfully say “Reorganized aisle end cap displays and increased movie rentals and sales by 10 percent,” that may catch an employer’s attention. Trunk’s brother Erik did just that and was able trade a clerical job at a large video store chain for a new position in marketing for an internet start-up.
Create a core resume
When you’re home at your computer, forget the advice about limiting your resume to one page. Start big, then carve out the parts of your employment past that are relevant to each job you apply for, says Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of “Resumes for Dummies” (For Dummies, 2002).