Selling Your Skills to the Employer

A résumé is more than a history of your work experience, it's an advertisement for yourself. You need to tell the employer, very concisely, why he or she should hire you. You also need to follow the accepted professional guidelines for résumés to assure that the employer will want to read your "advertisement."

Your résumé and cover letter might be the most important documents you'll ever create, so it pays to spend time getting them right. Remember, your résumé is the key to getting into an interview. You'll want employers to know that you are qualified, interested, and enthusiastic! Check out our section on resume tips, tricks, and online resources.

Think fast!

Employers usually don't have much time to review each résumé, so it's important to make yours stand out.

  • Use commonly known section headers that the employer can scan quickly. For instance: Objective, Education, Experience, Skills, Honors, References, etc.
  • Put the most interesting, important, relevant facts about yourself first, and make them stand out.
  • Highlight key points using boldface type, italics, underlines, and layout.
  • Use bulleted, incomplete sentences that the employer can read quickly. For instance, turn "I managed a large sales team for over a decade" into: "Managed 30-person sales-force for 12 years."
  • Quantify your experience. Instead of saying "increased sales in my territory," say "increased sales in my territory by 150% over a 6-month period.
  • Use keywords and skills taken directly from the job description.
  • Use accepted terminology and acronyms to convey your familiarity with the industry. Just make sure you don't overdo it, making your résumé difficult to read.

Consider these additional tips for creating a winning résumé:

  • Always think about what you have to offer the employer and how they will benefit from hiring you. Outline your skills and experience, and think about how a company would benefit from having you on board.
  • Use different résumés for different jobs. You'll want to tailor a résumé to fit each job you're applying for, particularly if you're applying for different kinds of positions. Make sure the résumé you're using is well-suited to the job in view.
  • Proofread carefully to catch all typos and grammatical errors, and have someone else proofread it for you, too. The résumé is your first chance to make a good impression so you don't want to appear sloppy or careless. Make sure your résumé is as organized, logical, and concise as you'd like the employer to think you are.
  • Your résumé should celebrate your accomplishments, so make sure everything you say about yourself sounds positive.
  • Be personal, yet professional. You want the employer to get a sense of who you are and what makes you special. That said, don't make the mistake of using personal pronouns or making reference to inappropriate personal information (your religion, marital status, age, political views, etc.)
  • If you include personal traits, make sure they're all positive and all relevant to employment (dependable, organized, etc.).
  • Be honest. It's okay to be creative, but lying or exaggerating can really come back to haunt you.
  • Make it Lively! Make sure the language you use is lively and engaging. You don't want to put the employer to sleep! One of the best ways to spice up your writing style is to use Action Verbs.

Once you've created your award-winning résumé, make sure you save it on a disk, along with your cover letters and references. This will save you time when you have to update these documents or tailor them for specific jobs.

Prepare a list of professional (work related) references including name, title, business, address, and phone. Don't forget to check with your references before you use them, and thank them for their help. Remember, they're part of your network.

Online Résumé Resources

Visit any of the following websites for more tips and résumé help:

  • College Grad's Quickstart Resume Templates This site contains over 140 résumé templates that you can download for free. The site lets you pick a template related to your career of choice. Then you use the template to organize all of your information, and voila-- you have a finished résumé with minimal hassle!
  • Monster.com's Resume Section Contains sample résumés and cover letters, and a wealth of links, tips, and related topics.