How To Make
A Great Resume

In today's tough market, it is hard enough to land a job -- let alone imagine and launch the career of your dreams. The problem is that while people are scrambling for success, they don't take the time to figure out what job is the right fit or what their true calling is. The Play of Your Life author Colleen Sabatino helps yet you started on the right foot, right here, with a great resume.

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3Additional section headings

Additional section headings that are useful in constructing a resume that communicates value to a hiring manager include:

  • Areas of Expertise
  • Career Highlights
  • Professional Achievements
  • Key Accomplishments

These sections follow your summary of qualifications. They emphasize specific strengths you have developed throughout your career. These sections provide an opportunity to bring special attention to experiences that are most relevant to the hiring manager, regardless of when and where they occurred.

For example, if you want to convey that your experience as a leader is a key asset even though your leadership experience has been in a different industry, you can emphasize this in a leadership experience section. This way, the hiring manager focuses on your leadership qualifications first before reading about it later in the context of the industry.

Be careful not to give too much information in this section. For example, if you create an areas of expertise section, ideally confine your expertise to four areas and not more than six areas. Listing too many areas dilutes the depth of expertise. The same holds true for accomplishments and achievements. Focus the hiring manager's attention on your most important accomplishments by creating three strong statements.

Select a high-impact section heading for your employment section. Do not use "Employment History" or "Work Experience." These headings are vague and generic. The terms employment and work define virtually every type of job available, from soda jerk or paperboy to corporate CEO or marketing director.

Instead, create a compelling section heading that optimizes your experience. The following section headings are appropriate for professional resumes. They communicate a career path, versus a series of jobs.

  • Career Progression
  • Career Advancement
  • Professional Experience

Now you are ready to arrange the most important information at the top left of the page and least important information at the bottom right. Start with what is most compelling to the hiring manager. Begin with your professional title or your industry and company name. Then list the location and your dates of employment to the right.

Example:

Marketing Director  
XYZ Industries, Atlanta, Georgia

June 1992-June 2002

4Resume length

There are differing opinions regarding the appropriate length of a resume. The general rule regarding resume length is:

  • One page for less than 10 years of professional experience
  • Two pages for more than 10 years of professional experience

However, this rule can vary depending on your circumstances. For example, say you have more than 20 years of professional experience. If the last 5 to 10 years are the most relevant and substantial, then a one-page resume that highlights this experience may be more appropriate.

This conversation between an author and his editor illustrates why you should pay attention to your resume length.

Editor: I like your book except for the ending.

Author: What's wrong with the ending?

Editor: It should be closer to the beginning.

More is not better in resume writing. Your objective is to keep the hiring manager's attention focused on your skills that add immediate value to the company. If you describe every experience and function of your entire career, you risk diverting the focus away from the parts of your resume that are most important.

Additionally, if you put every single experience on your resume, you have to be prepared to discuss every single experience in the interview. As a result, your interview will be more difficult to prepare for and you run the risk of being asked about experiences that are not relevant to the position. You may be perceived as "not a good fit" because, based on your resume, the hiring manager asked about the wrong skill, rather than what was needed for that particular position.

5Resume content

Transform your resume from a description of job functions to a series of accomplishment statements that are of interest to the hiring manager. To do this, read your job function statements and ask yourself:

  • What was the purpose of this responsibility/project/task?
  • How was this job function relevant to the company?
  • Did this job function save time, save money, increase revenue, improve a process/policy/infrastructure?

The answers to these questions are typically the most important elements of the resume to the hiring manager and need to be communicated clearly.

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