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Resume Writing Tips

One of the biggest mistakes in resume writing is thinking of it simply as writing out your work and educational history. Think of it as a SALES LETTER, and the product you're selling is YOU.

The majority of resumes are quickly passed over by human resources personnel, and you need to make yours stand out--everything about it--what you say, how you say it, and the presentation, should say EXCELLENCE. Make sure there are no grammatical or spelling issues, and that the presentation is as attractive as possible. And because studies have shown that hiring managers tend to scan rather than read resumes, you need to make a powerful statement very quickly.

As with all good writing, it's important to plan first. Target your resume to the position you're seeking, and carefully consider the employer's needs. Avoid making general, canned statements that could apply to anyone, for virtually any job, such as "I'm seeking a challenging position with room for growth." Make your statements specific, and show how your strengths will perfectly meet the employer's needs.

Is this a job you really want?
Before putting pen to paper to write your resume, think about whether or not this is a position that you *really* want. Is it a position you can get excited about, and that you believe you can sustain a high level of energy for? If not, it will be hard to convince employers that you're the ideal candidate, because there will likely be numerous other candidates who can generate a genuine sense of excitement about the position.

Can you do the job, and do it well?
You want employers to get excited about you, but not at the cost of being untruthful. If the employer has expressed the need for specific qualifications that you don't have, it's best to be completely straightforward about what you can't do, while highlighting what you can.

Sometimes employers write job requirements as "wish lists", and may be willing to consider someone who has most of the needed skills and train that person on the rest. But, you don't want to risk the ire of your potential employer by being untruthful in order to 'get your foot in the door', only to have them question your character at a later point.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak
Along with qualifications and educational background, hiring managers want to know what kind of person they're considering hiring--are you honest, dependable, easy to work with? These kinds of traits can often get you in the door even if you're not the most qualified candidate. Don't be afraid to talk about these positive traits in your resume.

Know yourself
The more you know your strengths and weaknesses and can honestly present them to a potential employer, the stronger position you'll be in. Too many people try to 'finesse' and pad their resumes to build themselves up. Experienced hiring managers are all too used to seeing that, and will easily detect it in a resume. Better to be honest about areas where you need work, and win the respect and appreciation of the person who may be giving you a job.

Show, don't tell
While you need to sell yourself and highlight your accomplishments, it's much better to do that by showing your creativity, initiative, or leadership skills, rather than saying how wonderful you are. Provide clear and specific examples of how you solved problems or met past employer's needs with your creativity or initiative (or whatever your strengths are.) Let the hiring manager draw their own conclusions by showing how you solved problems in the past.

Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes
It's important to understand that no matter how much information you share about yourself, the person doing the hiring can't possibly know everything about you, and is ultimately taking a risk when hiring new employees. The hiring process is not only stressful for candidates, but also for the person doing the hiring. Putting yourself in the hiring manager's shoes can help you think creatively about how to present yourself in your resume, by focusing on showing how you can best fill the manager's needs.

Show that you take the job opportunity seriously
Make your resume as neat and attractive as possible, and go over it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical problems. Make sure that font styles and sizes are consistent throughout, and make use of bold headers to make your resume easy to read and follow.

Confidence vs. ego
Every hiring manager wants to hire people who are confident about their capabilities. Confidence comes from knowing yourself and what you can do, but trying too hard to convey confidence could backfire, and make you look egotistical instead. Do be clear in stating your accomplishments and skills, but don't try to build yourself up to be a superhero--hiring managers know better.

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