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Research shows that only one interview is granted for every 200 resumes received by the average employer. Research also tells us that your resume will be quickly scanned, rather than read. Ten to 20 seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read further. What this means is that the decision to interview a candidate is usually based on an overall first impression of the resume, a quick screening that so impresses the reader and convinces them of the candidate’s qualifications that an interview results.

As a result, the top half of the first page of your resume will either make you or break you. By the time they have read the first few lines, you have either caught their interest, or your resume has failed. That is why we say that your resume is an ad. You hope it will have the same result as a well-written ad: to get the reader to respond.

FOCUS ON THE EMPLOYER’S NEEDS, NOT YOURS

Imagine that you are the person doing the hiring. This person is not some anonymous paper pusher deep in the bowels of the personnel department. Usually, the person who makes the hiring decision is also the person who is responsible for the bottom line productivity of the project or group you hope to join. This is a person who cares deeply how well the job will be done. You need to write your resume to appeal directly to them.

Ask yourself: What would make someone the perfect candidate? What does the employer really want? What special abilities would this person have? What would set a truly exceptional candidate apart from a merely good one?

If you are seeking a job in a field you know well, you probably already know what would make someone a superior candidate. If you are not sure, you can gather hints from the help-wanted ad you are answering, from asking other people who work in the same company or the same field. You could even call the prospective employer and ask them what they want.

Don’t make wild guesses unless you have to. It is very important to do this step well. If you are not addressing their real needs, they will not respond to your resume.

Putting yourself in the moccasins of the person doing the hiring is the first, and most important, step in writing a resume that markets you rather than describes your history or her story.

Every step in producing a finished document should be part of your overall intention to convey to the prospective employer that you are a truly exceptional candidate.

PLAN FIRST

Focus your writing efforts. Get clear what the employer is looking for and what you have to offer before you begin your resume. Write your answers to the above mentioned question, “What would make someone the perfect candidate?” on notebook paper, one answer per page. Prioritize the sheets of paper, based on which qualities or abilities you think would be most important to the person doing the hiring.

Then, starting with the top priority page, fill the rest of that page, or as much of it as you can, with brainstorming about why you are the person who best fulfills the employer’s needs. Write down everything you have ever done that demonstrates that you fit perfectly with what is wanted and needed by the prospective employer.

The whole idea is to loosen up your thinking enough so that you will be able to see some new connections between what you have done and what the employer is looking for. You need not confine yourself to work-related accomplishments. Use your entire life as the palette to paint with.

If Sunday school or your former gang are the only places you have had a chance to demonstrate your special gift for teaching and leadership, fine. The point is to cover all possible ways of thinking about and communicating what you do well. What are the talents you bring to the market place? What do you have to offer the prospective employer?

If you are making a career change or are a young person and new to the job market, you are going to have to be especially creative in getting across what makes you stand out. These brainstorming pages will be the raw material from which you craft your resume. One important part of the planning process is to decide which resume format fits your needs best. Don’t automatically assume that a traditional format will work best for you.

Read more at http://www.rockportinstitute.com/resume_02

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