Brother Ron Barnes
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Guide To Effective Resumes

A resume is your summary of qualifications for employment. It is sometimes called a curriculum vitae. This means "lessons of life". Cetainly we learn from our experiences. But the important question is not "What have you learned?". The important question is "How can you use what you have learned to help our organization?".

Your resume is a marketing document

Many people think a resume is a statement of personal accomplishments. They write their resume from the "I" prospective. The employer is not really interested in what you did or accomplished in the past. He wants to know what you can do for him in the future. The only reason for listing past accomplishments is to prove you can do what you claim for your future employer.

Write your resume from the employer's point of view. Use "feature-benefit" selling. This means every time you list a feature of your career (such as diplomas, awards or recognition), explain the benefit of that feature to your prospect. Instead of saying "Sold $50 million in farm equipment", say "Proven ability to generate $50 million in equipment sales". The first statement tells what you did in the past. The second statement predicts what you will do in the future.

Sell what the customer is buying

Your resume should be a living document. Many people write one resume and try to make it work for every job. Every time you send a resume, tailor it to the specific needs of the job you are appying for. Your should have at least one basic resume that you use for a template. I have two-one for marketing and one for education. Tailor the details of your training and experience to the requirements of the job description.

If the prospective job involves driving, mention your good driving record. If the notice mentions record keeping and reporting, include a statement about your ability to document activities and accomplishments. If the prospect doesn't mention it, neither should you. Remember the KISS principle-Keep It Short and Simple. As Zig Zeigler says, "Never sell with blah blah blah if you can sell with blah".

Make a file for your job applications and resumes. When you get an invitation for an interview, make sure you know what qualities you emphasized on that particular resume. This is what you will talk about during the interview. You will want to take a copy of your resume with you to the interview.

Find Resume Templates

Microsoft has a resume template gallery with more than 100 templates for specific career areas or situations such as leaving the military or new graduates. To find an appropriate template for your resume, click

Anatomy of a resume

Heading-your name and contact information

Name-use your full legal name. Avoid nicknames and abbreviations. The employer will need this information for background checks, payroll and other functions.

Address-use your street address. The employer wants to know that you have a permanent address. This promotes the image of stability. If you have a Post Office box, you can list it below your street address.

Telephone numbers-if you don't have a telephone, get one. You want to make it easy for the prospect to call you to invite you for an interview. If they can't find you, they can't hire you. Do not depend on friends or neighbors to relay calls to you. Your friends have other things to do. I had an experience once when I tried to hire a receptionist. I found an excellent candidate and
decided to hire her. The only telephone number she could give me was a neighbor. Every time I tried to call the neighbor, there was no answer. I finally gave up and went to the next name on the list. I called, we interviewed, she got the job. You should also include your pager or cell phone number.

E-mail address-more and more companies are using e-mail in their recruiting efforts, If you do not have an e-mail address, you can get one for free from several sources. You can access your e-mail from any computer. including the library.

Career objective

The objectives section gives recruiters an immediate sense of who you are and what you're looking for, without forcing them to wade through the entire resume. It is best to use broad categories of jobs rather than specific titles, so that you can be considered for a wide variety of jobs related to the skills you have. You should define a "bracket of responsibility" in your objective that includes the range of jobs you are willing to accept. This bracket should include the lower range of jobs that you would consider, as well as those requiring higher levels of responsibility, up to and including those that you think you could handle. Even if you have not handled those higher levels of responsibility in the past, many employers may consider you for them if you have the skills to support the job description.

Professional Qualifications

This is where you get the reader's attention. You stated in your objective the kind of position you are looking for. Your qualifications summary is where you demonstrate your ability to achieve these objectives. This part of your resume can be a most powerful section. It is a brief statement of your experience, training and personal abilities. It can be expressed in one short paragraph or in bullet format. Experts recommend you limit this to approximately six sentences or bullet statements.

This is a good place to list any certifications. In today's highly-specialized job market, certification is often more important than your degree. In information technology, for expample, you may have a degree in computer science. But if all your education and experience has been with Microsoft products, I can't use you if my system is built on a Novell platform. Many fields (such as education and medicine) require certification as a condition of employment. If you have these certifications you want the reader to know about them as soon as possible.

Many people find that by looking at a list of action verbs, they remember things they've done in the past. By searching through a list of verbs, you will not only remember things you've done, but you will also get some ideas for new ways you can describe those activities. As a result of the Verb-Search exercise, you will have a list of action verbs from which you can begin to summarize your qualifications.

Numbers add credibility to your qualifications summary. Use them whenever possible. Here are some examples of effective use of numbers:

*   Managed a staff of seventeen administrative and maintenance employees.
*   Produced average sales volume of $110,000 per month.
*   Increased unit profitability by 47%.

Sometimes, people find it easier to write this section after they have worked on the rest of their resume. Sometimes, it is helpful to go through the details of your skills and experiences, review them closely and then write the Summary of Qualifications. A close colleague with whom you have worked for a long time may be a nice sounding board when you work on this section. Friends who are truly familiar with your work and work style are also good sources of assistance.

Keep in mind that what you include needs to be relevant to the job goal. Always be honest about the skills and experiences you mention but also be strategic. The more you know about the position and what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate, the easier it is for you to search your job history and pull out the relevant strengths that will help you succeed.

Professional History

In this section, you will list your work experience. Always begin with your most recent job and work your way back through time. For each job you have held, give Job title; name of company, city, and state (Do NOT include street addresses, names of supervisors, contact telephone numbers, or other extraneous data.); Dates of employment (include seasonal descriptor or year).

Since job titles can be misleading, give a brief description of your duties. Remember to relate this to the job you are applying for. Mention only those duties which relate to your target job. The person reading your resume probably has a stack of them to go through. They want to get the information as quickly as possible so they can finish the job on time.

You shoould not disclose salaries or your reason for leaving previous jobs. Employers want to know about salaries so they can hire you as cheaply as possible. If you lost a job because of personal conflicts with an obnoxious supervisor, the prospective employer may jump to the incorrect conclusion that you are a trouble-maker. While you want your resume to be truthful, you also want to consider the employer's perceptions. There is often a big difference between the truth and what people believe to be the truth.


If you have a work history, it should take precedence over your education. New graduates should discuss their education first. List the name of your degree followed by college name, city, and state, major and graduation date. Do not include GPA unless you are applying for a scientific or engineering job. In some cases (such as sales and marketing jobs), a high GPA can actually hurt your chances of getting the job. In sales and marketing, people skills are more important than academic skills. The thinking is that a person with a 4.0 grade average has sacrificed social skills to develop academic skills. This is great for engineers or computer specialists but bad for sales.

Be sure to include relevant continuing education or independent study. Human knowlede is doubling every 5 years. If you graduated from college ten years ago, 75% of everything you learned is obsolete. You want to demonstrate that you are keeping you knowledge and skills current. You also want to demonstrate that you appreciate the value of continuing education. 

Additional Information

This is a good place to list volunteer activities, willingness to relocate or any other information which would help an employer decide to call you for an interview. Do not include church activities unless you can do so without disclosing your religion. Do not disclose physical information (height, weight, handicaps) or family information (marital status, number of children). The employer is forbidden by federal law from making any decisions based on religion, physical condition or family status. To avoid the possibility of a lawsuit, your resume will be discarded even if the information is favorable. You should also avoid pictures or political activity for the same reason.

Cover Letter

You should never send a resume without a cover letter. For a complete discussion of cover letters, click