Getting Noticed

Looking for a new job is hard work. Not only can local markets be job depleted but selling yourself to potential employers can leave you feeling restless and unworthy. It’s important to make a great first impression, but it’s hard to make yourself look good when your personality gets distilled down to 2 thin sheets of paper. Resumés help you get noticed. But when employers try and find the diamonds from the two foot tall stack of "best impressions", yours might get lost in the sea of words. So, here’s a few tips on getting your resumé to the top of the stack and noticed by the potential employers without using your favorite pink scented paper and internet l33t speak.

Traditionally, a resumé’s structure follows a chronological timeline. Your name and contact info display up top. Occasionally, a career objective statement gets thrown onto the page next. Then comes several past years worth of employment history. Any college or on the job certification programs end this resumé format. People with heavy schooling sometimes place their education block before their work history, giving it prominence over the work their career’s given them. However, in almost every case, work experience descriptions get brief bulleted lists that describe core functions and achievements. I’m not saying this structure is bad but when friends ask me to edit their resumés, this format tends to breed a lean structure.

The first tip I have for creating a resumé that gets noticed is to ditch the tried and true bullet point format. Instead, write short descriptive paragraphs about each job you’ve had. Years ago, during a job search of my own, a recruiting agency told me about this revolutionary breakaway. Not only does it give you a bit more space to talk about your jobs, it also makes your job look like it was more than just a quick 9-5 time filler.

QA Analyst/Technical Writer, Nike.com; Portland, OR — xxxx-xxxx
Participated and lead testing efforts for all nike.com, niketown.com and nikeid.com website QA projects. Tested sites for technical and design compliancy. Performed cross browser testing across both Mac and Windows platforms with a wide variety of browsers. Familiar with a variety of test methodologies and products to record issues including Rational Rose ClearQuest and Mozilla Bugzilla. Wrote extensive test cases, test plans and use cases for all projects. Wrote and compiled technical specifications standards for all nike websites designed and developed by in-house and external agencies. Recommended new technologies and software packages to enhance site workflow and performance. Worked with Agencies to assist in testing. Helped write Policies and Procedures. Helped create and administrate QA Lab. Recipient of the Alberto Salazar Award for team excellence in xxxx for work done on nikeid.com.

Writing paragraphs about your jobs immediately gives your resumés a more beefed up appearance. But you don’t have to stop there. Why not write those paragraphs in problem solution format? Define a core problem your company had and how you and your position helped solve it. For example, say the last job you had was losing customer retention in projects. You decide to create a newsletter which is sent out quarterly to the customers that touts the company’s successes and answers frequently asked questions. As a result, you helped increase the customer’s clientele by 50%. Now isn’t that the type of go get-em personality you would want on your teams? I know I would. This is the type of material that gets a resumé noticed.

Another simple but powerful trick is to include a quick listing of your skill-set. What computer operating systems do you know, what programming languages can you use, do you speak foreign languages? Add these important blocks of information at the top of your resumé, just beneath the Career Objective where they can be read by a resumé scanner or hiring manager.

Resumés don’t need to look boring either. The next time you need to revise your resumé or create a new one, why not try and find a nice complimentary design. Or use a nice heavier copy paper. Paper and design can say a lot about someone’s personality and we all know that resumé’s cannot match the 3d personality of the real person. A lot of people tend to design their resumés first and cram all the information around that well-loved design. Instead, why not write out all the bits and facets of your career down first and then find a nice, eye catching design that compliments your style. Your resumé also need not to be constrained on a single page anymore. I know my resumé spans 2 pages (not including reference sheet). I have yet to hear complaints from prospective employers on the length of my resumé.

Happy hunting and here’s hoping my suggestions help you out the next time your in the job market. You might also want to compliment your resumé with a portfolio of your works. Sometimes showing off your talent can speak volumes. Do you have additional tips or tricks on resumé writing? Feel free to post them in the comments below. We’d all love to hear them. Good luck on your next resumé.

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resumes

I had good luck using the tips from Robin Williams design books. I especially like the info on using fonts. "Don't be a wimp" definitely applies! The book on design info for non-designers is a good place to start. I also used a tan sort of onionskin paper for my resumes with matching envelopes. It seemed to get favorable comment from everyone who saw it. It looked professional and stood out just a bit.

Custom Resume

I often get conflicting information on how to find a job. 1)Apply to many jobs, several a day. 2)Customize your cover letter and resume for every company you apply to.

Do I really have time to write a new resume and cover letter for every job? Not me, I am busy, often still working while applying for new positions. My solution to this is to rather than customize every single application, is to write three types of resumes and cover letters, for the three types of companies/positions I may apply too. Beyond that, the most custmization I want to do further than that is to address it to the right person in the company.

Often an ad for a job opening is very short with very little information. Often the company name is ommitted in favor of just an address or an email address. Where is the name of the correct person to contact? How do I even know what company I am applying to? The Internet to the rescue. Often the email address is on a home domain for the company. Look at that extension hrmanager@mycompany.com, and then visit www.mycompany.com and look to see if there are any directories or job pages. If all you get is an address, try googling the address. So many times in my experience entering 1234 SE Main St Suite 4 has turned up not only the company name, but their website too. And then you can personalize that cover letter by adressing it to the right person!