Top 16 Tips for Planning Your New Resume For Acceptance

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Every year corporations, from the Fortune and Inc. 500 to local Ma/Pa professional shops, have a single and shared complaint: New hires cannot communicate in either written or oral formats. This was verified for me as I reviewed over 170 resumes and cover letters of applicants for a middle manager position at a high tech company.

Misspellings, poor grammar and bad attitudes were the norm along with embellished experience, education and personal potential. With unemployment rates expected to exceed eight percent before the current economic crisis begins to abate, applicants who are professional and knowledgeable are the ones who will make the first cut.

There are some rules that you should take with you as you sit in front of your computer, preparing your search strategies. Chronological, functional, targeted or executive summery forms of the resume, along with cover, thank you, follow-up and acceptance letters all retain some commonality in style and professionalism.

1) Resumes and cover letters are nothing more than a tool to reject you from contention. A resume will never “get you the interview,” but can eliminate you before you reach the starting line.

2) Use bright white paper (103+ brightness is perfect). ONLY! I suggest a 24-lb stock. Like a fresh white dress shirt or blouse, the white and weight extrude professionalism. Pink paper does not.

3) Use a common letterhead. Keep it short and simple (K.I.S.S.) and professional. Your name, address and contact information are all important. Graphics are not. Nor is your picture. Use the “Header/Footer” to develop a common letterhead. In MS Word 2007, you will find this function under the “Insert” tab on the top tool bar. Make sure that you check mark “Different First Page” so that subsequent pages show only your name, telephone contact number and page number. I usually suggest that your name be in 16-point font on the first page and 14-point on all other pages. Save this as your “Letterhead” file and do not use it sparingly.

4) Another “K.I.S.S.” rule. Stick to Times New Roman or Arial in 10- or 12-point for the body of the letter. One-inch boards all around.

5) Write a Curriculum Vita. This is a wonderful exercise that will help you focus on your future. What is a CV? It is a resume that includes everything from the day you graduated high school; jobs, organizations, volunteer work, publications, achievements, everything. The CV is required by many colleges and universities for full-time employment. It will also allow you to standardize your one or two page resume.

6) Create a “Resume Template.” Much like a CV but should show your experience for the last 10-years. Include all degrees, professional designations, publications and awards no matter how old.

7) If your experience shows your knowledge and experience in a specific field is older than 10-years, show it in your cover letter. This goes along with continuing or professional development programs you have taken.

8) Proof read, spell check and make sure you are addressing the letter to the correct company and contact person. Have someone else proof your work, or; leave your letter for 24-hours before you proof it.

9) Use the job title as it is shown on the request for applicants along with the classification or reference number.

10) Use the same language in your resume and cover letter as the company used in their announcement. If your correspondence is being scanned for a computer evaluation and elimination, which is more common than you what to believe, these are the key words the program will be looking for.

11) Rule of the Left thumb – A one page resume is always preferred. A second page is acceptable if you have more than 10 years in the industry, are listing publications as an attachment or have an advanced degree.

12) Rule of the Right thumb – Employers do not care what you want. They care if you can do the job. Think like the potential employer. Do you want to read “I am looking for a position that…,” or “I bring to your organization proven professional experience…” Show how you can make money, save money or save time for your new employer.

13) Even when you submit an electronic resume, mail an original to the company. Address your letter to the highest ranked person you can find, short of the president or CEO. By addressing the letter to a senior vice president, the letter will be sent down to the Human Resource department. And if it comes from above…

If you cannot locate a name of a person to mail your letter, use “Dear Hiring executive:” as your salutation.

14) Your cover letter should say something that is not in your resume. In marketing this is called call “added value approach.” Do not repeat what is already on your resume.

15) The first paragraph of your cover letter needs to indicate the position that you are applying for. The second paragraph your added value (“In addition to the information found in my resume…”). The final paragraph is always a thank you.

16) Keep a file of all of your correspondence so you can retrieve the information when you get THE call. Have the specific resume used and cover letter for each application. Keep notes of your conversations with the name of the person you spoke with, and remember to send a thank you note.

This is a short list of the “Dos” for a professional application. There is also a list of “Don’ts,” but those will be discussed in the next installment.

In the long run, be and appear as professional as you can and you will reduce the likelihood of being rejected in the first round.

David Rosman is a award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Human Resources, Ethics, Business and Politics. David is also a featured columnist for the MissouriTribune.com, the Columbia Missourian and TRCB.com. He welcomes your comments.

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