Basics First: Building a Strong Resume

18 07 2009

Let me start off by saying two things.

  1. This is going to be hard work.
  2. But I’m here to help.  So read on…

There’s no such thing as the perfect resume.   Each employer and every role requires different skillsets and strenghts, so drafting a perfect resume is almost impossible.  However, there are some key things that you should do to make yourself stand out.

Make yourself desirable in 5 seconds or less.

Finding the right role is like dating.  You want to make yourself as desirable as possible at first glance and a well-written resume is the first glance.  Here’s how you can do this:

  • Show them you’re intelligent. If you’ve done well in school, provide a GPA and/or standardized test score on your resume.  Employers want to know that you’re smart and that you took school seriously.
  • Show them the impact you’ve made in past roles. Employers want to see how you’ve made an impact on your past employers.  Whether you worked at Pizza Hut or in a corporate office, what have you done to dramatically improve the business and what does that translate to in numbers, percentages, awards, or recognition?  Write it out in a “Situation, Action, Result” format.
    Improved a process:  Built an internal website to house work announcements, schedules, and contact info [Action], increasing communication efficiency [Result] between teammates with different work schedules [Situation].
    Improved customer experience (and brand):   Created social network platforms for the business [Action] creating a means of measuring our customer loyalty base [Situation] and increasing repeat customer base by 47% [Result].
    Saved the company money:   Reviewed and re-negotiated vendor contracts services [Action] to save the company $120,000 in annual expenses [Result].  (The implied situation is overspending.)
  • Show them you’re more than just work and school. What really makes you unique?  Are you a boy scout?  In a professional dance company?  The world’s 2nd Place Texas Hold’em Champion?  Show them how you started something, lead a group, project, movement, picked up a skill or hobby, or volunteered your time towards something that helps to shape your overall character.

Format to perfection (this part can be perfect).

Often times how you organize a resume reflects your natural abilities to organize your thoughts and put them on paper.  Put some thought into how you’re structuring your resume and if you’re using the right tools to make it easy to read.  Things to think about:

  • Font size –  Too small?  Too big?  They’re not going to read it!  Stick to a size 10-12 font.
  • Alignment – Do your dates line up?  Do your sections, subsections, and bullets line up?
  • Grammar – Make sure your content is grammatically correct.  If it’s a past project, all the text should be in past tense.  If it’s a current project, the text should be in present tense.  Notice that the Situation, Action, Result examples above are almost complete sentences without the subject (you)

Take these tips.  Format your resume and if you want me to take a look at it, shoot me an email with some context for your situation and your resume at awesome.and.unemployed (at)




2 responses

6 08 2009

Good article. Thanks. I’d like to add: if you’re a creative or applying for a creative job, make sure that your CV / resume looks ‘designed’: clear, neat and plenty of white space.

22 06 2011
Jobs Career Resume

Fantastic Article and discussion. Really helpful. I have been following this for some days now and found it very good. Great Job !!!

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