Recreating Your Resume in 10 Simple Steps


August 21, 2010   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

I like opening blog posts with something that everyone can agree with me on. I think I learned that technique from some “how to get people to like your blog post” article or book or something. So here we go — job searches suck.

With me so far? Okay, let me do it again. Writing a resume sucks. (The author of that article or book or something would be proud of me).

So, yes, searching for a job universally sucks, especially when it comes to that stupid little piece of paper that employers get to judge you by. And man do people freak out about resumes. Despite the 18 trillion articles about resumes on the internet, most of them totally drop the ball when it comes to creating an effective resume. Let’s try to improve on that.

The way you need to think about your resume is that it is a sales tool. An effective resume should quickly communicate your strongest attributes to an employer who doesn’t know a thing about you. For most people and most jobs, a standard resume format (you know, listing a work history) doesn’t do that very well. Seriously, have you ever had to read a bunch of resumes? Even the good ones are boring. I don’t know about you, but if I’m hiring someone I really don’t care where they’ve worked, I care what they can do, what they achieved, and what they can bring to my organization.

So, that’s where this great resume in ten steps comes from. I’m going to teach you how to very quickly build a highly effective resume that focuses on selling an employer on your best skills. Your resume will no longer be a boring biography; it will quickly tell an employer exactly why they should interview and find more about you.

So, let’s build your new resume:

Gathering Your Selling Points

    • List your top three most marketable skills
      Think about all the skills you can offer a company like “management,” “communication,” “leadership” and things like that. Decide what your top three most valuable skills or talents are (only the top three, you’re trying to build the most effective selling resume you can). 
  • Write down ten things that “prove” you have each skill
    Remember, employers don’t know you so you need to prove your skills to them. You can do this by mentioning past job experiences or responsibilities, education, successes, awards, and any other support fact. Take the time to write ten support points for each of your top three skills. 
  • Select the top three or four support points for each skill
    After you’ve got ten for each, you should have at least three or four strong points to support each skill. Pick the strongest ones. Again, stick with the top three or four because they’ll be your most effective selling points. 
  • Rewrite each support point
    Rewrite each of your support points so they are specific, in the active voice, and result oriented. (Bad example: “Responsibilities included bookkeeping, accounts receivable, and budgeting”; Better example: “Streamlined financial management at XYZ Company by efficiently managing budgets, maintaining accounts, and keeping accurate books.”) 
  • Rank your top three most marketable skills
    After you have your three skills and your three or four support points for each, you need to decide which skills are your best selling points for the job you’d like to get. Rank them. 
  • Rank the top support points
    For each skill, order the three or four support points by their strength. 

Writing Your Resume

    • Qualifications Summary
      The first thing after your name and contact information should be a qualifications summary. This should only be three or four lines long and should give the reader a highlight of your best selling points. In slightly more professional language it should communicate “I’m awesome because I can do X, Y, and Z.” If someone reads only one thing on your resume, these are the three or four sentences you want them to read. 
  • Skills and Support Bullets
    The main body of your resume, the section that most resumes list each job you’ve had, should be about your top skills. Each skill should be in bold with the support points in bullets underneath. Put your best selling points first on the page, so that’s the reader’s first impression of you. 
  • Work History
    Yeah, the reviewer still wants to know your work history, but it comes after your skills because you want them to focus on your best selling points and what you can bring to their organization. This should only show company, location of the company, dates of employment, and job title. You can discuss the details about these work experiences during an interview. 
  • Education and Miscellaneous Information
    It’s depressing, but a college degree doesn’t tell an employer anything about your qualifications. Degrees are generally just used to weed applicants out, so it belongs at the bottom of your selling tool. If there is any other bit of information that you’re dying to include in your resume, but it didn’t make it into your support bullets, and cannot wait for an interview, put it at the bottom too. But remember, if it wasn’t impressive enough to make it into your top support bullets, it probably won’t add to your selling points all that much.

Tada, you have an effective skills resume. This style of resume will help you in a few important ways.

  • First, it makes your resume look distinct and refreshing compared to most of the other ones in the resume pile.
  • Second, it forces the reviewer to consider your strongest selling points and your best selling messages first. That way you can directly tell the employer exactly how you can add enormous value to their company.
  • Third, it forces you to weed out weak support points.
  • Last, by not divulging your entire work story, it encourages an interested reviewer to call you for an interview to learn more.

So that’s your quick and highly effective resume. Remember, your resume should convince an employer to interview you and learn more about you, so don’t give them your life story without a bit of face time. Hope this is helpful and feel free to click “comments” and ask any questions.

Written on 8/21/2010 by Joey Weber. Joey is an expert in career development and marketability. For more on what he does check out Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks

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