Resume Writing Tips: How To Develop A Winning Resume!
Bio: Ken provides professional resume services in Vancouver, BC and is regarded as one of the world’s leading resume writers. Ken is a multi-certified (CMRW, CERM), international award-winning resume writer, experienced executive recruiter, and former staffing agency owner. Ken specializes in writing resumes for some of North America’s most senior executives in a variety of industries and is routinely sought out by clients who have worked everywhere from the White House, Pentagon and NSA to Parliament Hill via every major industry in North America. If you are looking for professional resume writing services in Vancouver, BC, get in touch.
In this article, I’m going to give you a few essential tips for preparing a highly effective resume. Over the past 23 years I have assisted job seekers of all levels in securing their dream role, initially as a recruitment consultant and executive recruiter, and since 2009 as a world-leading resume writing specialist providing professional resume services to a diverse client base. Throughout my career, I have accrued a wealth of knowledge as to what does and does not constitute an effective resume.
As an executive recruiter, part of my role was to identify and vet suitably qualified candidates for the job my client was recruiting for. A large part of this process revolved around the interview where I leveraged my interview skills to identify and build out skill sets, experience, and accomplishments that would be directly relevant to the target job. Then, I would prepare a resume document, optimally structured to present the job seeker in the most effective way possible.
I’m sure you can imagine the sheer volume of assignments I worked on, the number of industries I worked across, and of course the countless hiring teams and HR professionals who were tasked with assessing the suitability of the candidates I was presenting. Based on this insight, I was able to hone my approach to developing hard-hitting, highly effective resumes capable of winning over even the most intransigent of hiring managers. As a Certified Master Resume Writer and Certified Executive Resume Master, I have been able to capitalize on my prior experience in the world of recruiting to deliver best-in-class resume writing services to job seekers all over the world.
Ok, let me walk you through a few key areas to get you started and help you slip into the correct mindset.
Design & Structure
Think about your audience. What do they want to see? Do their work for them. Don’t make them have to read every single bullet point on your resume before they start to appreciate what you can do. Why? They probably won’t do that!
You’ve got 10-15 seconds to grab the attention of the reader. Fail to communicate your worth or suitability for the role, and you’re out.
You need to choose a design and structure for the document that clearly communicates the fact that you have the skills and experience they need.
You need to build in enough white space to make high-impact sections pop and ensure excellent readability. Use wide margins, clean type, and clear headings. Don’t use zany fonts. You can also apply bold or italics strategically to draw the eye of the reader and guide them through the document.
Choose a format appropriate to your situation. Whether that’s a hybrid/combination style document, reverse chronological, or functional style resume, depending on your background and experience you should pick the format that accentuates the positives, minimizes the negatives (too many jobs?), and gives you the space you need to pitch.
Selling, not Telling
You should seek to identify accomplishments, not just regurgitate job descriptions.
Yes, we need to see content that’s relevant to the role and this is very important when navigating Applicant Tracking Systems, however you must identify and position your key achievements in each role for maximum impact.
You’ll see many people, including myself, advising you to have a couple of lines to introduce the job, then list accomplishments. Many of the best resumes I’ve written have followed that pattern. And yes, in the strongest of accomplishments listed on a resume, you will take ownership of the activity performed and be able to take credit for the net benefit to the company or client.
However, for many people putting their resumes together by themselves, they struggle with citing numerous accomplishments, especially if they’re performing transactional work. That’s a reality.
Sit down and think about your impact at your current and previous companies. What were you able to accomplish? Did you help improve customer experience? If so, how did you do that? Did you help increase revenue, if so by how much and how did you do that? Did you help improve office productivity? If so, what did you do? Try to quantify the impact you made.
You can always tie the work you do and the function within the business you serve to the end product or the effective operation of the business itself. If you weren’t there to perform that function or if you didn’t do it well, what would the impact be on the business?
You can use that to say that you “help support” the ongoing effective operation of the business / department. Perhaps you “help facilitate” the acquisition of new clients by ensuring potential customers are re-directed to the sales professional with most expertise in their area?
Listen, don’t get yourself lost here grasping at straws or bending the truth just in the service of trying to get an “accomplishment” on your resume.
As a recruiter, I came across this type of situation often. In those cases it would have been better to focus on core content that made those people qualified for the job. At least then you’re giving me something I can use, as opposed to a half-baked, not-so-impressive “accomplishment” that may be bending the truth anyway.
If you’re coming up short, use the type of detail your target employer uses in their job description. Reflect as much of it as you can to optimize the document.
Remember though, don’t give upon identifying accomplishments just because you find it hard. Put the work in and you’d be surprised at the material you’re capable of producing.
Maximize Impact of Accomplishments
Ok, so you’ve identified your accomplishments. How can you structure them for optimal impact?
Use metrics wherever possible. This greatly increases the impact of the accomplishment and allows the reader to truly understand the benefit and impact of the work you do.
You should try to prioritize the placement of these accomplishments in your resume. In addition to heling you identify those key accomplishments, this is where the expertise of a professional resume writer can be of tremendous value to you in shaping the presentation of relevant, high-impact material on your resume.
The on-target resumes will be customized to target the role you’re going for. This is essential. A generic resume will yield mediocre results. You need to take the time to fine tune your document to target the role you’re going for.
Use the target job description to help you understanding what the employer is looking for and use content from that spec to help you demonstrate your suitability.
Don’t use any content from that specification you can’t legitimately lay claim to having done.
Take the time to customize your resume and you’re results will improve dramatically.
You need to cater for your target industry as well.
Don’t use flashy looking resumes for a conservative profession. Be mindful of the target audience, always.
Top tip: Use the target job description as your guide. Let it act as a prompt to remind you of the duties you have performed in the past and if you have, make sure you present them in the resume.
The closer you can get your resume to the target job description, the better!
Here’s another tip. Lose the “Objective” at the top of the resume. When a resume is being reviewed, your application is being assessed against the requirements of a candidate profile and the specific technical aspects of the role.
The last thing a recruiter wants to see at that stage is what you expect to get out of this exercise or what you want long-term.
Not only does the Objective communicate the wrong message, it wastes valuable resume real estate that could have been used to sell in your suitability for the role.
Use this space instead for a Branded Statement. A powerful showcase highlighting your unique value proposition.
If you can clearly and quickly communicate your value to your target employer, you’ve cracked the code.
If you can do that, and happen to also present that information in a high-impact and accessible manner on your resume, you’re on to a winner!
I sometimes hear clients say “But, I already know that I have to show value, the second bit I didn’t think about as much, but I already had the jist of it.”
Really? Then why does your current resume not do that?
Knowing something should be a certain way, yet not ever getting it done seems to be part of the human condition.
“I don’t have the time to think about that!”
“I don’t know how to do that!”
“I don’t know what they want to see!”
“I wasn’t trained to do that!”.
Sometimes admitting to yourself that you can’t do it all is the first step to seeking the help you need to get something done. In my experience that’s how smart people operate.
Whether they’re seeking external assistance with something, or delegating work to a talented employee – knowing what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at, is a level of self-awareness we all should embrace.
I know what I need to do to fix the oil leak I have in my car’s valve gasket, but I don’t. Why? Because I don’t have the skills to do that. I’m going to need help.
I know what should be done to correct the uplift in the bridge on my acoustic guitar, but I don’t have the skills needed to execute that as effectively as someone who has been doing that very thing for decades.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
For some reason, many people beat themselves up about the need to ask for assistance from a professional resume service with their resume. There is absolutely no need.
It’s a specialized skill set. It’s selling. It’s marketing. It’s not just a list of stuff you did!
Over the years I’ve written resumes for broadcast journalists, a TV anchor, HR Directors, and people who have worked everywhere from the White House to the Fortune 500, and Parliament Hill in Canada. These are super talented people, some of them actually wrote for a living.
They recognized the value in seeking the assistance of someone who actually did this for a living.
And in doing so, it gave them an edge they didn’t have before. You can book my professional resume writing service here.
Who it’s for:
Although I have developed a reputation for providing expert resume services to management and executive professionals/trades, I work with clients at all levels in all industries from nanotechnology to nursing and everything in between. See my resume samples here.
I offer 3 package options. The ‘basic’ package consists of a resume and cover letter. The resume is provided in 3 formats (PDF, Word, ATS-Friendly). My ‘silver’ package adds a LinkedIn Profile update to the ‘basic’ and my ‘gold’ level package adds 60 minutes of Interview Coaching to the ‘silver’. For a full overview visit my ‘Buy Now’ page.
Who it’s for:
Current clients in need of some preparation and coaching either for an upcoming interview or just to get some practice in anticipation of beginning a job hunt!
During our 60-minute interview coaching session, we will cover preparation/research, interview etiquette, classic interview questions, behavioural interview questions, and more. I will put you through a mock interview and we’ll celebrate what you do well, and zero in on those areas in need of improvement. If you have a target job in mind, we’ll discuss your pitch for that specific role.
Who it’s for:
People who have or do not have an up to date LinkedIn profile.
I’ll review your and optimize your profile, and ensure the messaging is consistent between your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
“1 hour. That’s how long it took from the time I received my resume from Ken to the time the recruiter for the position I was most interested in called.
Had a chat with her, she recommended me to the client and I got the job!
Take the rest of the day off. You’ve earned it! “
“Highly recommended. I always had problems with interviews, so I called Ken and booked an appointment.
Ken helped me focus on what was important and made me more aware of myself and my unconscious little blunders, so I could correct them.
He is friendly and funny, and full of constructive criticism.
I was the successful candidate for the job he helped me prepare for, which is my ultimate dream job!
Thank you Ken!”
“Ken did an amazing job on my resume and cover letter. He got everything ready for me within 2 days and just in time for the deadline.
He payed very close attention to everything I told him and put together a flawless piece.
First place I applied, I landed an interview with.
His work is definitely worth every penny.”
“My experience has been nothing short of fantastic.
I have received interview calls within a week of my posting the resume drafted by Ken. (I had been trying for almost 8 months before that without any success whatsoever)
“I engaged Ken to write an executive resume after being let go from my last role due to the economy. Ken took the time to fully understand my skills, accomplishments, unique value proposition, and put it all together in hard-hitting and highly impactful document.
I recently secured a wonderful role and I do not underestimate the part your work played in this. Thank you Ken for making this process easy for me.
I have referred you to my network and will continue to do so.”
“Excellent service!!! Ken really took the time to understand my previous roles along with skills and accomplishments. I was so impressed with the final results and had an interview for 2/3 jobs I applied for within 48 hours of applying (after receiving zero responses for almost a year).
I will be using Ken again to update my resume with my new role and responsibilities.”
“He did a great job. and because of that, I now have a great job. Instead of hoping for an interview, I’m getting interviews right away.
I would definitely recommend anyone who’s looking for work hire Ken for a professionally written resume.
When you consider what you stand to gain from getting a better job sooner as a result, it’s totally worth the price.”
“Ken is the absolute best in his field!
He takes the time necessary to craft the ultimate resume and cover letter documents.
I was offered a resume writing service from my company when I was let go, and I graciously declined and opted to enlist Ken to assist me after reading the reviews.
5 star reviews do not come along very often and when you use his service you will see exactly why he is the gold standard in this field.”
“I couldn’t be more happy with the experience that I had with Ken.
He did an outstanding job in producing a resume that was above and beyond my expectations.
I would recommend his services to anyone that needed a professional resume.
He genuinely cares.”
“Ken produced an extremely high quality product in my executive resume. He was able to bring together essential components of my professional experience and highlight them in a manner that opened the door for a targeted application.
His knowledge and experience helped brand my professionalism and expertise exactly as required; my new executive resume afforded me the opportunity to compete for one the highest positions within my field and community.
His interview coaching then ensured that I was able to maximize this opportunity through creating a dialogue within the interview and with the hiring committee to showcase all the added value my skills, experience, and passion brought to the position I was seeking with this premier organization.
I strongly recommend Ken and his services for those wishing to create lasting employment success and advancement opportunities.”
“Ken did an outstanding job with providing me a resume, a cover letter and a Linkedin profile. It was really hard for me to write my own resume, number one because I have never had the need before and second, because of my diverse experience in different industries and areas.
I knew I needed someone with experience to interview me to be able capture my key competencies and skills and focus on what will attract me to employers, he did it!
Thank you very much Ken, I now feel confident to go job hunting.”
“Ken did an outstanding job with providing me an up to date resume and cover letter in less than a week. I have been at the same company for 10 years, but have had so many different roles and positions, it was hard to articulate my key skills in a three page resume.
From our interview session, Ken was able to capture my key competencies and skills, and focus on what will attract me to employers. A small investment to secure a great career. Highly recommend!.”
Purchase the services you require by selecting the appropriate pricing tier in the ‘Buy Now’ page. There are 4 tiers based on your level of experience.
Email me your availability for telephone consultation along with your current resume/cover letter. Engage in consultation which generally lasts between 45-60 minutes.
Receive your documents via email in around 5 business days after the next available consultation date and depending on my workload.
Get in touch to find out how my professional resume writing services could help you identify key skills, uncover hidden accomplishments, and enliven your personal brand.