Part III: Finding the Write Words for Your Resume

You carefully drafted and crafted your resume. You targeted, translated and revised it more than a few times. Before you send it out into the cold, cruel world, understand one important thing about your resume.

You spent way more time on it than a potential employer will…at least initially. It’s no secret that the competition for existing jobs today is beyond stiff with employers sometimes receiving hundreds of resumes for one job opening.

This rather dismal fact of life means your resume has to stand out. It has to outshine the others big time. It has to truly grab the attention of the person reading it. And, as if that isn’t enough already, it has to manage to do this in 30 seconds or less. That, sadly, is about all the time it will get before an employer decides to keep it for follow-up later on or toss it into the ever-growing thanks, but no thanks stack.

Even when the unemployment rate is not hovering near the 10% mark, potential employers just don’t take or make the time to read your sterling document of qualifications word for word on the first round of resume eliminations.

Granted, it doesn’t seem fair. Alas, dear job seeker, it is what it is.

Once you’ve accepted the painful reality of it all, go the extra step to increase your chances of making it to round two and a potential interview.

How? You can do this by giving your resume one last thorough inspection to make sure it impresses and not distresses, the reader.

Doing this will ensure your resume is not just a good like so many others one but a great one that can’t be ignored.

Great resumes outshine good or mediocre ones.

Go for the shine.

Use the following “Go/No-Go Checklist” to put the finishing touches on your piece de resistance and you will move you closer to a real opportunity.

Did You… Go No-Go
Use the best format of resume (chronological, functional or combination) for the situation? ____ ____
Target your resume to a particular job opportunity, using key words from the vacancy announcement? ____ ____
Avoid using confusing military terms and acronyms? ____ ____
Emphasize your relevant skills, abilities and work experiences? ____ ____
Avoid using the same power verbs repeatedly? ____ ____
Avoid making the work experience narratives read as through copied directly from a personnel manual? ____ ____
Quantify your accomplishments and responsibilities? ____ ____
Illustrate a gap-free work history timeline or account for gaps? ____ ____
Use the correct tenses in the work narratives? ____ ____
Write the resume in 3rd person, leaving the personal pronouns such as I, me and my out of the picture? ____ ____
Run a spell check using your computer? ____ ____
Run a spell check using human eyeballs and intelligence? ____ ____
Avoid using random acts of capitalization and repeated use of the ever present semi-colon? ____ ____
Limit your resume to two pages or less? ____ ____
Use an easy to read font size (10, 11 or 12 points) and style (Times New Roman or other sans serif font)? ____ ____
Use bullets, bolding, italics and underlining minimally? ____ ____
Maintain a one-inch margin on the top, bottom and sides? ____ ____
Include your name and page 2 on the second page? ____ ____
Omit unnecessary information on your resume, such as your age, height, weight, religion and marital status? ____ ____
Omit ancient military training and academic courses? ____ ____
Write a cohesive resume that clearly tells an employer what you have to offer? ____ ____
Include accurate contact information in the heading? ____ ____
Ensure that every line on the resume supports the objective of the resume, whether it is physically, stated or not? ____ ____


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Janet Farley is the author of the Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc, 2012). She writes the JobTalk column for the Stars and Stripes newspapers.