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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ways to fix your failing resume

Rescue your failing resume with these five fast fixes and land that coveted job interview.

Applying for work can be a full time job, especially if your resume meets the paper shredder before reaching the hiring manager's desk. If you're tirelessly applying to several positions without a single bite, then maybe it's time to revamp your resume. With Canada's jobless rate barely budging since the recession, it's a tough market for job seekers, but don't let the slumping economy discourage you.

Remove your weak words
Words and phrases like 'experienced', 'successful', 'responsible for', and 'team player' are weak buzzwords that fail to demonstrate specific skills and qualifications. Stop hiding behind a shopping list of vague responsibilities by using quantitative figures to support your skills and accomplishments.

The Fix: Rescue your resume by focussing on numerical facts, and prove you have the goods to get hired.
BAD: Responsible for customer support.
GOOD: Reduced customer support calls by 25% over three months.

Don't write a book
Is your resume a real page turner? If your job application reads more like short story, confessional, or an autobiography, chances are you won't be landing the interview.

The Fix: You have 15 seconds to make a great first impression, so don't force the hiring manager to flip through multiple pages to understand what you're about. Keep your resume to one page, or two maximum.

Customize your resume
Your boilerplate resume just doesn't cut it in this economy. The most successful resumes are focussed on a specific job title and address the company's stated needs.

The Fix: Don't apply to a position with the same old resume. Always review the job description, customize your application with your most relevant qualifications, and write your resume to reflect the employer's job requirements.

Get to the point, be concise
Hiring mangers only skim resumes before making a quick decision, so do yourself a favour by keeping it concise. Rambling sentences, long paragraphs, and verbose language will put any prospective employer to sleep.

The Fix: Make your resume more skimmable by using bullet points and short sentences to feature your skills and qualifications. And don't be tempted to fill the whole page with words -- a little white space can increase your resume's readability.

Add a few action verbs
Does your resume sizzle with excitement or slump into a stupor? When your resume reads like a snore, it's time to wake up your application with a few action words or verbs -- these show prospective employers actions you've taken in previous jobs.

The Fix: Use action verbs like 'designed', 'sold', 'managed', 'organized', and 'created' to bring strength and authority to your credentials while highlighting your sense of initiative. Be careful though; adding too many verbs can lead to buzzword overload, and no hiring manager wants to read a resume with a lot of action but little substance. Use the right action verbs, and you may just land that job interview.


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