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Your Resume: Your Sell Sheet

Your career goals may be far from being a salesperson but when it comes to your resume, you do need to know how to sell yourself.  And that’s how you should think of your resume – as your professional sell sheet.

Your resume should highlight your professional success stories in the best possible light, with each success “popping” from your resume.   

So how do you do that?   What should you do?  What’s shouldn’t you do?  In a very quick nutshell, here’s some do’s and don’ts based on my experience of writing and reviewing literally 1000’s of resumes:

Do:

  • Consider adding a Professional Summary to the top of your resume.  Think of this section as your elevator pitch as to why you would be the perfect fit for the job.
  • Remember, your resume isn’t your job description.  Eliminate the “noise” and focus on the highlights of your career for each position that you list.
  • If it’s an obvious skill, it’s “noise” and detracts away from your success stories. No need to share that you can use Outlook or Excel – it’s assumed these days.
  • Be success-oriented as you share your highlights; neutral stories don’t sell!
  • Tell me the “why” if you can – i.e.  it created a cost-savings, reduced waste, grew profit margins, etc..  (Quantify it if possible!)
  • Use the key words relevant to your job in your resume – this will get it through an employer’s automated key word filter system and into the hands of a hiring manager.
  • Be consistent in your format, font and font size.   This isn’t to say your headers can’t be a larger font size – they should be.  Just be consistent throughout your resume.
  • Consider bullets over paragraphs.   Bullets get read, they pop; paragraphs easily can get ignored and the reader lost in a barrage of words.
  • Be professional everywhere in your resume i.e. partygirl101@gmail.com isn’t the email address you want on your resume.
  • Use a cover letter to customize your career highlights to the position at hand.  Identify their needs, share how your talents align with them, and explicitly highlight how this alignment will allow you to quickly contribute to the role. 
  • In short, make yourself an easy hire!

Don’t:

  • Don’t write a career objective at the top; employers want to know why they should hire you; not why you want to be hired.
  • Don’t go over two pages; no one needs your life story; what’s most relevant is what you’ve done in the last ten or so years. 
  • Don’t write your resume in all capital letters.  It’s too hard to read!
  • It’s tempting to share hobbies, but remember, you aren’t here to make friends.  This is about your job.  If your hobby entails professional skills (fundraising, board treasurer) these may make nice exceptions though.
  • Don’t include hot topic issues (i.e. politics, religion, gun rights) – remember this is your professional portfolio, not your personal one.
  • Don’t be too brief – remember you want to get your key words in there!
  • Don’t use your cover letter to repeat your resume.  Customize it to the job and share how your talents align with their needs. 
  • Don’t give them reasons to turn you down – don’t overshare and definitely don’t highlight any projects gone wrong, professional conflicts or career mishaps.

These tips are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to creating a great resume.  I strongly suggest considering hiring a professional resume writer to everyone.  Oftentimes we are too close to our own work to know what sells best on a resume and it just may not be that project that we put our heart and soul into that we really want on our resume.  An objective writer can help sort that out with you, along with leveraging their experience to put together an outstanding resume in the most current format.

Getting the job of your dreams is the goal; in the meantime,  here’s some great deals to help the budget along the way.

24 thoughts on “Your Resume: Your Sell Sheet

  1. These are great tips for creating your resume! It’s all about how you sell yourself. You want to jump off the page so you can get in for the interview! Once you get to the interview you can go more in depth definitely don’t want to be too wordy in your resume!

    1. I’m glad you found it valuable Sophie – it ca be hard to write your own resume because you are so close to your work. Hopefully these tips give a jump start!

    2. Great tips to have in creating an effective resume, especially with a good portion of hiring done over the internet! You have to think outside the box so your resume stands out to the point you even get an email or call for an interview. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this – super helpful! I definitely think it’s important to keep the length right. Not to short or too long! Thanks for the tips x

    1. The design heavy ones while visually appealing can trip up the automated filtering systems that many employers use. So generally I suggest people do not use them unless they are in a very creative industry where their resume might be viewed as a piece of their “work.’ Great question Mariiacano!

  3. This was so interesting to read I’m definitely guilty of having some of these don’ts on my list! I really enjoyed reading this it was so helpful x

  4. Great suggestions! Using spell check and/or having multiple people proofread your resume is also essential to ensuring accuracy. I was once on a hiring committee and received a resume with the candidate’s own name spelled incorrectly. Avoid the embarrassment by asking for help! You have really put together a great compilation of helpful resources in this post!

  5. Something I myself am always tweaking is my resume, it’s always so hard to show that are willing to learn anything for a role and make sure you have enough keywords for the automatic systems.

    I used to not have a professional summary, because I thought it was a little outdated. But after working with a company on my resume – still working with them!- a one liner with bullet points looks great to show my skillset.

    The Why part is super important to show what your changes led to for the company such as increase of traffic for company site, increase profit etc.

    Consistency is key with the format – everything has to sync together. Bullet points over paragraphs anytime any day as it’s so much easier to skim through – some companies get hundred of applicants a day so have to make it quick and easy for them to identify your skills and accomplishment so far.

    Cover Letters – although stressful to write – are so necessary because if it’s not included it’ll seem like you don’t care as much as someone who submitted both a resume and cover letter.

    Yes to not going over two pages! Only one page is enough. In terms of hobbies I’d like to disagree on that. In the past during interviews, my hobbies were brought up positively – an interviewer who also crochets, an interviewer asking about my athleticism due to the company being an outdoors one and the interviewer asking about data/seo in relation to my blog.

    It’s important to show your hobbies so they get the whole picture of who you are, you are more than just a professional in your field. A CEO leading a resume workshop mentioned that’s one section that people look for because it shows who you are as a whole.

    In terms of a professional resume writer there’s the good and the bad with working with them – as I’m now seeing as I work with one – it’s a lot of making sure you’re both on the same page!

  6. It’s an excellent reminder to everyone who is planning to apply for a job soon. I like how you mentioned hobbies here, so we cannot forget to overshare and put too much that it isn’t needed on a resume.

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