Real-Life Resume Makeovers
Extreme makeovers are all the rage these days, and people everywhere are flocking to make over their hair, their makeup, their wardrobes and even their homes. But while getting a hot new haircut can turn heads on the weekends, some people should be getting resume makeovers to give them a boost in their professional lives. We took two real-life resumes and gave them to Richard Fein, author of books such as 101 Quick Tips for a Dynamite Resume (Impact Publications), to get his expert opinion of how these resumes could be revamped and improved. Fein provided his years of career counseling experience to help these candidates sharpen their focus and better tout their skills.
Dan is looking for a sales position, and starts his resume with the following objective: "Seeking a full-time position in inside sales."
Fein says Dan should include characteristics that are sought after for his intended line of work in the objective. For example, instead of just writing that he is seeking a sales position, Dan should highlight some positive qualities that an employer would want in a candidate.
For example: "Self-starter and team player with excellent time management and communication skills seeks position in inside sales."
Dan included a section in his resume titled "Relevant Courses." The courses listed are "Intro to Computer Information Systems, Philosophy of Law, Ethics, Academic Writing II and various literature/writing courses."
"Dan should delete text that doesn't add value," says Fein. "No course he has indicated is directly related to his stated objective. If he had taken a course called 'Closing the Inside Sale' he could include that under the heading 'Sales Courses.'" Fein suggests leaving this information out.
Dan was a member of his college crew team, and states this fact at the end of his resume under a section called "Extracurricular Activities." This fact is listed as a bullet along with other activities such as "weight training," and "intramural arena football."
Fein says you should always put important points where they are readily visible, which means early in the resume. "In the case of a recent college graduate, varsity sports are almost always a selling point," he says. "Dan was on his college crew team, but has buried that fact at the end of his resume. He should move that selling point under 'Education'." Fein says this part of Dan's experience is important because it implies competitiveness, the ability to be a team player, and good time management skills, all of which are characteristics that are important to in sales careers.
Janet has been in the workforce for more than 15 years and is seeking a sales position. She has a resume with solid experience that comes from several companies throughout her career. Her description of her most recent job includes the following bullets:
- Full line food service sales in defined geographic area. Assigned problem customers as starter accounts with credit and closure issues.
- Successful growth of business in a short time by working with new and old owners and operators, showing the value of my understanding, honesty and tenacity.
- Willingness and ability to successfully canvass and phone potential customers. I have succeeded in repairing dead accounts and penetrating existing accounts through simple relationship building with trust, excellent customer service and fair pricing.
- In addition to marketing and sales, my responsibilities include account credit collections.
Fein says that Janet's main problem is her bullets never quantify any results, which is particularly problematic for a sales manager. She needs to demonstrate her success with solid numbers to back up her claims. For example, she should include what percentage she was able to grow the business, or how many new accounts she was able to successfully land.
Sandra lists six different companies in chronological order on her resume. She provides three to four bullets of information for each past position.
"The most important selling points should be the most visible," says Fein. "The two components of visibility are location and the allocation of space. Sandra has allocated equal space to each of her six jobs. I would recommend allocating the most space to the most recent job and very little space to jobs which, in her case, are 10 to 15 years in the past."
Richard Fein is a nationally recognized expert in career and job search issues. He is the director of placement at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) School of Management. He is the offer of career advice books including "101 Quick Tips for a Dynamite Resume" and "95 Mistakes Jobseekers Make...and How to Avoid Them" (Impact Publications).
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