How to Write a Resume Guaranteed to Win Interviews

In today’s challenging job market, it’s not unusual for a hiring manager to receive over 500 resumes in response to a single ad on craigslist.com or cw-network.com. Add to that the incredible popularity and traffic generated by Internet search sites e.g. actually.com or 6figures.com, and you easily look at thousands of resumes sent in response to a job opportunity.

Statistics like these can be incredibly disillusioning, but before you crawl back into bed and hide under the tires, you should know that research has proven ways to drastically improve your odds in job search games and win a highly sought after interview with the company of your choice. As a career management consultant and coach, I’ve worked with literally hundreds of people ranging from recent graduates to middle managers to top level executives, and in most cases they first came to me with resumes that guaranteed to land on the bottom of “reject” pile.

So how can you avoid the “reject” pile and dramatically improve your job search success? Simple. Think of yourself as the product and your resume as a TV ad or “movie trailer”. A good preview of a movie or ad piques the audience’s interest and entices them to either run straight out and buy this product or plan to watch that movie. They show the unique value and location of the product and highlight its features and benefits.

Likewise, a well-written and well-strategized resume should prompt the reader (hiring manager) to want to take time out of his busy schedule to set up a meeting with you. Out of the hundreds of resumes stacked on his desk, yours will stand out and win somewhere top-of-mind. Always remember that when you are looking for a job, you are the product or item and your ultimate goal is to be offered by the prospective employer. Simple enough concept, right?

What should your resume include? A resume should highlight your achievements, qualifications, work experience, skills and education. It should focus on your performance and results and clearly show your value proposition, preferably in quantifiable terms. Above all, it should answer the questions of “what can you do for me?” and “why should I hire you instead of one of the other five hundred candidates?”

It should not be an inclusive biography of any job responsibilities you have ever had. As much as we all would like to think that we are truly unique, the truth is that hundreds of individuals can do our jobs. You need to convey why you are the best candidate and the skills and experience you have that the competition clearly does not. Highlighting your quantifiable results will achieve this goal. Going around and offering a laundry list of job responsibilities and processes will not.

Directly under your headline (name and contact information) should be a professional outline that ranges from three to eight sentences that highlight your experience, qualifications, expertise and skills – kind of like a snapshot. The summary should also include keywords or buzzwords that are endemic to the position and industry you are targeting.

For example, the following is the summary for a high-level professional:

Complete senior manager offering tradition of excellent results with expertise building, leading and consulting companies through complex restructuring, expansion and capital market transactions. Impressive fast-track management career characterized by excellent business development, presentation, negotiation and strategic skills. Appreciated member of executive team contributing to experienced, broad-based perspective to create aggressive revenue growth, improved profitability, increased productivity and improved internal processes. Expertise in start-ups, fast-track growth operations, corporate long-term planning and reorganization, financial functions and all aspects of financial management. Known as expert rainmaker, powerful dealmaker and motivational leader. MBA in Corporate Finance / CPA.

Here is the qualification summary for an OD professional:

Strategy and results-oriented organizational development and technology professional with ten-plus record of leadership success in high-performance, global consulting and business environments. Areas of competence include business and management principles involved in OD theory and application and human capital, multi-scale project management, technology, strategic and market analysis, resource planning, change and cultural management, communication strategy and performance management development, delivery and evaluation. Expert in collaboration on the development of IT processes, policies and standards to achieve the company’s cross-functional strategies, initiatives and goals that guarantee significant positive impact on organizations and staff. M. S. Industrial / Organizational Psychology.

Research has shown that the average person spends about 20 seconds reading a resume. So why make it difficult for them and get yourself knocked out of the race in the process? With a well-written list of qualifications, you will ensure that the reader (whether a human or a scanner) will be able to see your skills and qualifications quickly. Don’t expect the reader to read between the lines. Tell them who you are and what you can offer.

Include quantifiable and qualifying results in the form of a performance statement for each job you show. An example of a quantifiable implementation declaration would be:

“Created and developed Sino-language magazine edition, resulting in a 32% increase in sales and a 7% increase in national market share.”

Another example – this time, qualifying – would be:

“Developed and implemented custom database designed to manage production needs and track vendor activity, resulting in reduced creative spending and improved strategic planning.” Always use strong action verbs such as “created”, “analyzed” and “spearhead” in your implementation statements. This is not a time to use weak verbs like “helped” and “coordinated”.

If you are stuck trying to come up with solid, quantifiable or qualifying statements of accomplishment, just think of everything you have achieved in your various positions. Did you increase sales? Maybe you have reduced the time needed to solve software problems at the help desk. Have you developed or created a database? Maybe you improved and streamlined an existing storage system or reduced the turnaround time in the creative department. You may want to discuss it with me right now, but everyone, and I mean everyone, can invoke a number of achievements and achievements. You do not need to have discovered the cure for cancer for the implementation to be considered significant.

Remember that you are tagged and your resume is the marketing brochure that contains you, so you want to make sure you include all your features and benefits.

Concentrate on your recent (10 years) experience. However, this does not mean that if you have fifteen years of work experience, you must omit it. It all depends on the type of position you are pursuing. Exclude “I”, “me”, “my” and “we” from your Declarations of Implementation and Professional Summary.

Unless you are in academia or a C-level director on a Fortune 200, keep your resume to a maximum of three pages. If you can’t place it on two or three pages, you write too much of a biography. I guarantee you that no one will read it – no matter how nice it looks or how interesting you think it may be. And of course, check your verb agreement and have another set of eyes proofread it. The spelling and grammar checking features of Microsoft Word © miss at least 50% of the errors. Use the time-tested editor’s trick to read a document by reading the words and phrases backwards. Why risk being rejected for bad spelling or syntax?

Most of my clients are uncomfortable boasting about themselves, and this is reflected in their resume when they come to me. Searching for a job is similar to the new “three-minute” dating craze. You have to wow them and wow them now, otherwise you won’t get a new opportunity. Your resume is the one time you can brag about your heart’s content, shouting at the roofs, beating your chest – whatever it is! Forget what your parents taught you to be humble and not drone yourself about yourself. Remember what your goal is – to get the conversation going. If you fail to win the conversation, you will certainly never be offered the position.

Remember the 20-second rule: To extend your 20-second fame, make sure your resume is also well-designed and unclear. Even looking at a messy page is exhausting! Think about your favorite magazines and how they make maximum use of white space for greater effect. It will have the same desirable effect on your resume. Never use a font size less than 11 or margins narrower than an inch. Those of us who depend on reading glasses can never read it otherwise, and too little font will guarantee that the recipient who receives your fax will never be able to decipher it.

If you follow these rules, I guarantee that not only will you have a more successful job search, you will also be amazed at how much your interview rate increases. Writing a winning resume is both an art and a science. If, after a few brave attempts, you find that it is not one of your tremendous talents, take advantage of the services of a good career coach. It will be worth every penny.