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Resume Writing - How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Updated on May 31, 2013

Tips For Writing A Winning Resume

Most job seekers have the same problem when writing their resumes: they feel overwhelmed when it comes to presenting themselves in such a concise format. If you're suffering from this problem, you might want to work with a partner, a friend, a fellow job hunter, a counselor, or a professional resume writer, someone who can ask you probing questions and provide objectivity.

  1. Gather and Check All Necessary Information - Learn to write a resume by writing down information under headings. Write your resume example that embraces your education; experience; honors; skills and activities and make a list of your training and education relating to your job choice.
  2. Match Your Skills and Experience with an Employer's Needs - Choose a target job/title that works best and write a good resume by matching your wishes with positions that are actually available.
  3. Highlight Details That Demonstrate Your Capabilities - Learn to write a good resume by selecting details of your information that best matches the employer's needs. Results need to benefit your employer and make you a viable candidate for the target job.
  4. Organize the Resume Effectively - You write a resume by organizing your Personal information followed by a Summary of key points, Education, Experience, Honors and Activities. Write a good resume chronologically listing primary jobs held, including unpaid work that fills a gap or that shows you have the skills for the job. Write your resume example and compare with other like-positions resumes and create a draft based on the resume format you choose. References are a separate entity and may not be included, but always have solid reference available if requested.
  5. Consider Word Choice Carefully - You write a resume that accurately describes you - your skills, talents and expertise. Write a good resume by utilizing active verbs (in many forms) such as achieve, analyze, adapt. Learn to write a resume that describes you positively and accurately. Write a good resume using adjectives and nouns such as analytical, resourceful, capable.
  6. Ask Other People to Comment on Your Resume - We at Houston Job Search will help you write resume and then we will critique it. Remain open-minded when you write a resume and with our constructive criticism, the final resume will achieve its objective. Ask your friends and trusted colleagues to review and critique your resume.
  7. Make the Final Product Presentable - A resume should be printed on a high quality (24 lbs stock or more) paper using a laser printer. We at Houston Job Search can provide the resources.

Use dynamic action verbs such as: accomplished, collaborated, encouraged, established, facilitated, founded, managed, etc. Do NOT use the subject I, use tenses in the past.

The rest of this page provides additional information about different resume techniques and strategies. You may also want to employ the services of a professional writer. These are all discussed below. I hope this helps and good luck!

The 30-Day Job Search: A Guerrilla Resume Success Story

Following 7 months of struggle, one Minnesota man made a simple change in his job search in August 2009 -- and was hired for a new position only 30 days later.

What did he do?

Read on ...

Scott Bornstein, from suburban Minneapolis, was using what he thought was a well written resume, but without results. “Every time I sent it out, people would suggest changes to make. When I handed it out at a job fair, they’d say, ‘Thank you’ and file it away immediately.” He wasn’t getting called by employers.

Sound familiar?

But Bornstein found a way to improve his resume, which boosted his self-confidence, which, in turn, led to more interviews, in a virtuous circle that led to a job offer within 30 days.

It all started with a new, improved resume.

“I went to using a Guerrilla Resume. It was easy to write and it gave me confidence, with a resume that I felt positive to hand out to anybody,” says Bornstein.

The Guerrilla Resume is a new style of resume. It’s normally one page long and has two essential components:

1. logos or graphics from past employers, colleges, or organizations;
2. quotes from people familiar with your work, such as managers or clients.

Why are these elements so powerful?

Logos and graphics can improve your resume because the human brain would rather look at pictures than read. (What’s worth a thousand words?) So the right logo or graphic on your resume can make a favorable impact before an employer reads one word of your resume.

Can you get in trouble for using a logo? If you print it on a T-shirt and sell it on Ebay, sure. But is it verboten to use a logo in your resume to convey a relationship with an employer, client, school, or organization?

Not in my experience since 1996. Of course, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. When in doubt, ask permission before using a corporate graphic or logo.

Quotes from past managers or clients are the second element of every Guerrilla Resume.

Bornstein used three quotes on his resume. Quotes get attention because they are third-party endorsements of you, just like testimonials in an infomercial.

Where can you get them? Start with the recommendations on your Linkedin profile. They’re already in the public domain — why not use those quotes in your resume?

Now, here’s what happened after Bornstein revamped his resume.

“The next day I went to a job fair in Minneapolis. I walked up to a recruiter and handed my resume to her. She actually grabbed my hand, leaned in, and said, ‘This is an amazing resume.’ And I knew at that moment that I had something,” says Bornstein.

What he had was confidence, which improved every part of his job search.

Think about how easy it is to do something when you know you can, versus when you’re unsure. It’s the difference that can make all the difference.

“With the new resume, I had complete confidence in what I was doing. As soon as I started handing it to other people – hiring managers, recruiters, whoever – nobody wanted to change it. I felt they all wanted to give me a chance, and that was different,” says Bornstein.

The job Bornstein eventually took came from a contact he made at the Wooddale Transition Group. (If you’re not a member of a high-quality job club, consider joining one. In addition to producing employment leads, it gets you out of the house to meet and help other people.)

“An email went to the group members on a Wednesday and I applied, along with 32 other people. The new resume immediately popped up for the hiring manager,” says Bornstein, who was called on Friday and interviewed on Monday. A second interview followed on Thursday and he was offered a job the next day — nine days after applying.

What did Bornstein do to seal the deal in his second job interview?

He brought a portfolio of achievements, work samples, and comments from others, organized in a three-ring binder. The portfolio, which took Bornstein two hours to assemble, supported his resume and helped him edge out two other candidates for the position.

When asked to describe the difference his new resume made, Bornstein replied, “The confidence was huge for me.”

An eye-grabbing resume can provide the same kind of ego boost you might enjoy after getting a nice haircut or a $1,000 suit.

Article written and provided by: By Kevin Donlin, Jobs Columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune


How to Find a New Job 65% Faster

This is another article written by By Kevin Donlin, Jobs Columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune (and, one of my favorites by him) about a woman from Michigan who made herself stand apart from other applicants seeking the same positions she was. Read what she did to land her job...

Mary Berman, from Farmington Hills, Michigan, had been looking for work since February 2009 before starting her Guerrilla Job Search, in mid-September.

Up to that point, 20 weeks of job searching had produced zero job interviews.

But just 7 weeks later, she accepted a job on Thursday, November 12, as a marketing executive assistant -- 65% faster than her 20 weeks of conventional job hunting.

How did she do it?

She used "Guerrilla" job search tactics.

"I started with the Coffee Cup Caper. I sent a paper Starbucks coffee cup with my cover letter and Guerrilla Resume. I heard back from them a couple days later to get my first interview," says Berman.

After her first interview, which went well, Berman followed up with panache.

"It was Halloween time, so I decided to send them a chocolate covered apple with my hand-written thank-you note attached. A friend of mine, who was off work that day, played delivery person and took it to [the employer]. That was a big hit -- they were thrilled -- and I got the second interview out of it."

Berman's second interview was with the executive vice president. Afterwards, she followed up diligently. "When I came home, I wrote a 30-60-90 day plan. I had taken copious notes during the interview and used that information given to create suggestions for what I would do in the first 30, 60, and 90 days. I sent that to them via FedEx with another thank-you note. And I got a job offer."

Now. Let's break down this successful Guerrilla Job Search ...

1. Start smart

The Coffee Cup Caper -- a paper Starbucks cup, full-color Guerrilla Resume, and a Guerrilla Cover Letter (asking to meet for coffee), shipped in a box -- gets extraordinary results. By contrast, ordinary resumes and cover letters, sent by email, get ordinary results.

2. Follow up with style

Delivering a Halloween treat with her thank-you note was correct seasonally, if not politically. Use good judgment before sending items that might be perceived as bribes by employers sensitive to such things. In Berman's case, however, it worked like a (chocolate-covered) charm.

And, leaving out the gift, could you arrange to have your thank-you note delivered by a courier, or a friend posing as one? Of course.

3. Give employers another reason to hire you

Mary did this in spades after her second interview, when she sent a written plan of action for her first 3 months on the job.

A 30-60-90 day plan is a way of proving you can do the work -- before you're even on the payroll -- by describing how you would learn the job, build rapport with employees/customers, and contribute to the bottom line.

Mary's plan was 8 pages long and took the better part of a Friday night to prepare. (Before you balk at spending an entire evening at home researching and writing a 30-60-90 day plan, ask yourself if you wouldn't trade a night out for getting a steady paycheck again.)

4. Score style points with your delivery

Mary's first follow-up, the chocolate-apple-thank-you note, was delivered by a courier, not by email. Her 30-60-90 day plan was delivered by FedEx, not by email.

Do you NOT see a pattern here? Email should NOT be the sole delivery method for your career documents.

Bottom line: This smart Guerrilla had failed to get even one job interview in 20 weeks of conventional job hunting with conventional tactics.

After adopting unconventional Guerrilla tactics, she found work in only 7 weeks.

If Guerrilla job search methods can work in Michigan, where the unemployment rate tops 15%, they can work where you live. The only thing stopping you from thinking and acting like a Guerrilla is you.

Write a Guerrilla Cover Letter

Start Working Before You Get Hired

If you're looking for the toughest place in America to find a job, try Michigan.

The state, hammered by the collapsing auto industry, has suffered the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. for 14 straight months.

Make no mistake: Most job searches in Michigan are nasty, brutish, and long.

Yet, one suburban Detroit man was recently hired for a six-figure position in only 8 days.

Bill McCausland, from Novi, Mich., beat all odds by landing a job that was not advertised and paid a higher salary than his previous position.

"Since being laid off at the end of June 2009, I had been aggressively looking for a professional opportunity. But all of the tactics that I used before, with a lot of success, weren't working for me," says McCausland.

But something changed.

McCausland was hired for a management position that was created for him, a success he credits to the following "guerrilla" job search method: He started working before he was hired.

Pay attention. Because if this can work in Michigan -- in only eight days -- it can work anywhere.

It has three parts. Here they are ...

  1. Research the employer.
  2. Research the job.
  • Ask people in your network of contacts on Linkedin and Facebook for information. Human intelligence is best.
  • Search online for resumes and profiles of people who work at your target employer.
  • If the job is advertised, analyze the required skills to cull out what you'll be doing if hired.
  • Search Google and the employer's web site for press releases announcing new employees. You'll often find reasons why those people were hired -- precious information.

Prove you can do the job, in the interview.

The most effective way is to audition and perform the required skills. Examples:

  • a software developer could program an application showcasing their skills;
  • a sales professional could bring 25 customer leads or make cold calls;
  • an editor could proofread a document in the interview.

Another way to prove your skills is to offer testimonials from others. This is what McCausland did in his job-winning interview.

He created a two-page addendum to his resume, which he handed to the hiring manager in the interview. Both pages matched the look and feel of his business card and web site.

Page one, titled "Accolades," was made up of quotes from recommendations posted on his Linkedin profile. The quotes were divided into three parts: customers, managers, and business partners.

Page two was titled "Skills Required For Success." In researching the employer, McCausland found they needed help with project management, problem solving, and execution. So he let former managers prove his expertise. "I took quotes from past performance reviews that tied into the skills they were looking for in the position," he said.

Putting this all together, here's the time-line of what McCausland did:

  • learned to "start work before you're hired" on September 16, 2009;
  • landed the interview on September 21;
  • interviewed on September 22;
  • offered the job on September 23.

He sums up his success this way: "I got a position where none was advertised and did not have to compete with others because I nailed the interview, thanks to researching and demonstrating that I was already on the job."

If this can work in Michigan, for a six-figure executive, in 8 days, why not give this three-step method a try in your job search?

Another article republished with permission by Kevin Donlan, Jobs Columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Sample of an Executive Management Resume
Sample of an Executive Management Resume
Sample of a Non-Supervisory Professional Resume
Sample of a Non-Supervisory Professional Resume
Sample of an Entry Level Resume for Someone with 0-2 Years Experience
Sample of an Entry Level Resume for Someone with 0-2 Years Experience

What a Professional Resume Writer Can Do for You...

No one really thinks of writing or updating a resume unless he or she is looking for a job for the first time, has just resigned from or is thinking of resigning from a present job, is looking forward to a promotion or is exploring possibilities of a career change.Are you one of the people listed above? If you are, then you might be going through what most people experience even before they start to write or update their resume:

  • You agonize on what to include and how your resume should look;
  • You don't have the energy or the inspiration to write your own resume
  • You have written down everything and anything you have done in your previous work but your resume still does not look interesting;
  • The resume you have, looks primitive and is begging for an overhaul;
  • You have been inundating mailboxes for years with your most current resume but you have yet to receive a request for an interview;
  • You are eyeing for a dream position but know you need to stand out to even be considered;
  • You are insanely just too busy to think and sit down to write a resume.

Then, you have to face the reality about the job market:

  • For every position advertised, typical resume submissions range from 100 to 1000;
  • There is only a 10-to-20-second window to convince your reader that you are interesting and that you should be considered for a job interview;
  • On the average, only 1 interview is granted for every 200 resumes submitted
  • According to a career consultant, "only 10% of jobs come from sending blind resumes";
  • That if you Google "resume writing", you will get 12 million hits in just 0.3 seconds

Unless the company you are applying is owned by a relative or you happen to have an accomplishment that made you famous, chances are, you will need a resume to convince the recruitment officer, headhunter, hiring committee, and many others that you are worth calling for a job interview.

Pre-qualifying an applicant through his or her resume is a critical part of today's screening process. Your resume is your full-blown business card and repository of contact information. It speaks of your writing skills. It is a tool for self-promotion. It is a document that tells the recruiter why the company should hire you, and what you can contribute to the growth and success of the organization. A resume might not get you the job, but it can at least get you a job interview!!! So, do it right in form, content and style.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      it help a lot.... thanks

    • heart4theword profile image


      8 years ago from hub

      Wow, what a great hub...especially for young people or those just getting into the work force. Copying logos on the resume'...that is awesome! I can see where it would stand out above the rest, when pictures speak a 1000 words:), and they are looking through a stack:) Educational Hub! Hat's off to You:)

    • smartchoice profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thanks for the kind words, Don. I appreciate it.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 

      8 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      What a wonderfully practical Hub. Thanks for writing and putting in so much thought. I've always thought the resume is the most difficult writing assignment -- and I'm a writer!


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