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You can (and probably will) read all kinds of advice about preferred page length, desirable font size, format, style, white space, organization, and structure with regard to resumes. I’ll be sharing my own opinions on all these topics in the following chapters. But in preparing your resume, most of the decisions you’ll make are subjective; they can be argued either way, with no answer being absolutely wrong or right. How, then, do you know what to do? To reduce resume writing to its essential core, I’ve developed three rules that, if you follow them, will yield a resume that captures the interest of employers because it respects their jobs as hiring authorities and responds to their business needs.
1. Be clear and focused. Don’t leave readers wondering about the kind or level of position you’re interested in. Instead of taking time to figure it out, or to speculate where your skills might be used within their organization, busy hiring authorities will quickly consign your resume to the trash. Don’t muddy the waters with unrelated, irrelevant information or write your resume so generally and broadly that the reader is puzzled as to your professional interests. Make sure your skills, expertise, and potential are crystal clear and sharply focused.
2. Be correct. Carelessness can cost you a job offer—or a job. Make absolutely certain that all the facts in your resume are correct: dates of employment, contact information, company names, numbers, and results. An obvious error will send your resume immediately to the scrap heap; lies or distortions discovered during a reference check or even after hiring will cause you to lose the job.
3. Prove it. In a survey I took among my sales and marketing clients while writing this book, the factor they felt was most instrumental to their ability to generate interviews was the inclusion of measurable accomplishments and sales results in their resumes. This experience is borne out by the opinions of recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers (details of this survey appear in chapter 14). When writing your resume, don’t make unsubstantiated claims of greatness; back up your statements with evidence in the form of measurable, verifiable results that you’ve achieved for past employers.
With these three “absolutes” in mind, let’s discuss how to get started on preparing your resume.
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