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The Do's and Don'ts of the Perfect Resume

A well constructed resume is that vital stepping stone between you and a potentially life changing career. Executive search firms and executive recruiters are looking for that ‘je ne sais quoi’ - that extra redeeming essence which warrants the time and attention that your application so rightly deserves. Although, the rudiments of writing a resume are similar, there is no ‘one size fits all’ universal method of creating the perfect resume but there are many points which should be avoided or inculcated. Let’s look at a few…

The no, no’s:

Picture this… or more aptly don’t picture this. Computers make it easy for us to add extra bonuses to our resumes which many believe will be an important contributing factor in landing that dream job. As a result, it is easy to flick through the online photo album and attach those impressive shots which always pull in the compliments. Many feel that a furrowed brow and neat suit emanates a look of wisdom which has been experienced from holding down a senior executive role for many years. Others feel that youth is on their side and try to promote this by showing photos which confirm that they are still in possession of their own teeth and hair!  However, in today’s PC world and I am not talking about those little monitors with keyboards, I mean being ‘politically correct’, a photo could be considered a form of persuasion or subtle filtering. In this world of equal opportunities, vacancies are available for everyone from all walks of life and there are no inequalities. Your appearance should have no significant bearing on being considered for an interview and any executive recruiter who thought otherwise should be dismissed on the spot.

Keep the sense of humour at arm’s length
Whilst a quip or wise crack is a great way to lighten a stressful situation, those amusing little sentences on your resume may not turn an employers’ frown upside down. Humor is something which needs to be shared face to face as people have different personalities. If the person reading your e-mail takes offence to your comments or is just having a bad day, it could be you who may need to paint a smile on your face when that rejection letter comes right back at you.

Cut the small talk
Information overload is a common mistake. People tend to think that an employer needs to know all of the finer details about their life. You need to remember that you are being assessed for a job so your holiday in Greece will have no relevant impact and that allergy you have to Himalayan giraffes will not swing it for you! Only include information which is relevant to the job or is business-related. This means that you could mention activities you have partaken as a team building exercise or professional bodies you belong to.

The go-aheads:

Think positive
Your resume is your chance to sell and promote your abilities to executive search firms and executive recruiters. So emanate a feeling of confidence, high self-esteem and positivity throughout. A positive image has an infectious quality and will equally have a positive effect on your potential employer. So, even if you are picking your bottom lip up off the floor whilst you are constructing your resume, start replacing those negative statements with positive ones and include sentences that include words or phrases such as “supportive of others, honest, reliable, strategic thinker, hard worker, high level professional, team player, high energy, results oriented”.

Blow you own trumpet
Use an active verb tense rather than passive in your sentence construction. This means losing the “me, myself and I” and replacing those sentences with action verbs to strengthen your writing, especially when talking about your achievements. These ‘buzz’ verbs add that extra vital ingredient which makes executive recruiters take notice of you. Use them to make strong, bold statements and give power and direction to your resume. Sentences using these verbs emanate a person who is self-motivated, someone who knows how to present themselves in a businesslike manner and someone who is likely to succeed within in a variety of work areas. Remember to use these verbs in the past tense to convey that sense of achievement. Using the present tense gives a feeling of something which has not been entirely completed and as a result; loses its power. Some good action verbs in the past tense are: achieved, controlled, created, delivered, and directed ideas.

Mind your Ps and Qs
The people in executive search firms have to sift the weeds from the chaff so don’t play into their hands. Spell check every word and ensure that your grammar is politically correct. A poorly spelled word shows sloppiness and is a prime candidate for the bin, this is even more important if you are applying for a job which requires excellent communication skills. One good tip is to send the email to yourself or to a family member so as you can read it from an employers’ perspective to see if it grabs you. Are you instantly drawn to it? How about layout? See how the format and style will look when it reaches your potential employer. If you are sending your resume as an attachment, make sure that you save it with your name, job title and company name such as, “Jim Summers resume for IT Consultant position with Computer Genius Ltd”. You will also need to make your subject line stand out from the crowd. Take advantage of this opportunity by emphasising a phrase that the company would like to hear. For example, if the job you are applying for needs a senior executive with five years experience for an immediate start, phrase your header along the lines of: “CEO with five years experience available immediately for senior executive position”.

So there you have it a trio of do’s and don’ts to help ensure that your resume is faux-pas free and ends up on the top of the interview pile and not in the trash can!

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