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6 Resume Writing Strategies That Will Make You Shine In The Job Market

6 Resume Writing Strategies That Will Make You Shine In The Job Market

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What is it about resume writing that sets people’s knees to knocking, anxiously sweating? In a competitive job market, the anxiety only deepens.

Is everything worded correctly?

Am I remembering every detail?

I know I’ve missed a simple spelling error. Wait–I spelled my name wrong?!

Related: Improve Your Resume Results With These 5 P’s Of Resume Writing

The truth is, before the resume ever reaches the hiring manager’s desk, prospective employees are first in competition with their own way of thinking. Getting past fears and insecurities is the groundwork that must be laid.

Settling the debate in your own mind that you’ve presented yourself at your very best is a starting point toward presenting a captivating, confident option to employers and generating interviews that result in dream-job offers.

So the question is: how do you get to that point? How do you get to the point where you are confident that your resume is effective in helping you stand out from the crowd?

After all, you don’t want to ‘almost’ be the best choice: you want to be THE person who can meet the challenges, solve the problems, and excel at the offered job.

Let’s take a fresh look at your resume, to look through the lens of some of the best strategies and solutions and determine what can be done to transform your resume from flat and boring to fully the best.

Strategy Tip #1: Know Your Resume Goal

Understanding where you are going on a journey makes the ride more satisfying. The same is true of your professional resume: why are you writing it? What is the purpose of applying? Do you understand the job, what the company stands for, how you will fit in the corporate culture?

In essence, the GPS for your career journey can be skewed if you don’t answer these questions before listing past experience or education. If nothing of what you write applies to the job at hand, the chances are higher that your resume will be nothing but tossed aside.

Strategy Tip #2: Know Your Resume’s Audience

Nearly every hiring manager or human resources personnel could easily give you their “Top 10” list of the worst mistakes that an applicant can make. I wager that somewhere on that list is the complaint of impersonal resume writing, as if the sender copied their information without taking into account the actual position needing to be filled.

Think about your resume’s audience. The hiring manager is looking for someone with not only the skills and qualifications to meet the basics of the job, but also the person who has taken the time to understand the work involved and has real value to add. They seek the candidate who understands the goals of the position and has taken the time to align their own qualifications to those goals, submitting a resume that emphasizes those relevant qualifications.

Can you imagine the main problems or challenges that may come with the job? Do you envision ways you can solve those problems or meet those challenges? Can you increase something (increased sales…increased customer satisfaction…increased cost savings) and improve in places that need a little extra attention (improved efficiency? improved profitability? improved productivity?)

Thinking about your audience and what their needs are can change your perspective and afford you the opportunity to shine where others fall short.

Strategy Tip #3: Know Your Competitor’s Resume

It would be illogical to say ‘know your competitor’; you obviously can’t be privy to the individuals also applying. Every successful professional is, however, well aware of what the competition is bringing to the hiring process. Their qualifications, experience, education, and personality will be in the ring right alongside yours.

Don’t underestimate the reality of the situation. Unless you own the business, no one is a shoe-in for any job in any company. So take your resume and its potential effectiveness seriously. Go ahead and promote the baseline qualifications for the position, which are likely similar qualifications to those which your competition brings to the application process. But to really shine, showcase the qualifications and potential value add that make you stand out.

Strategy Tip #4: Know The Challenges & Problems On Your Resume

With the first three strategy tips, you’re well under way in creating a stellar resume that secures the job you want. You’ve set your goals, identified your audience, and assessed your competition.

Recognizing problem areas on your resume is a critical next step in the process. Perhaps your education isn’t quite what the job post listed, or maybe your skills don’t exactly match up with the expectations mentioned for the position. Is there a gap in your work history, or a period where you changed jobs frequently? In assessing your competition, did you discover ways that your own history might come up lacking against someone more experienced?

Defining the problems will lead you toward a realistic plan of solution and resume writing success. Oftentimes the solution will require rethinking the structure or format of your resume to minimize the problem areas. That’s okay. The traditional reverse chronology isn’t best for everyone. You must be meticulously honest and must structure your resume so that it is clear, well organized, compelling, and easy to read. Beyond that, there is room for creativity.

Strategy Tip #5: Know How To Color Outside The Lines Of Your Resume

While structure and order–and above all, honesty–are critical components of resume writing, never forget that you must be able to shine. When the hiring personnel has been looking at a sea of black and white portraits all day, opening yours to a cornucopia of personality and originality will make you stand out.

Differentiate yourself by infusing your resume with your personality, enthusiasm, and distinctive experiences, without using worn clichés or tired jargon. Give examples of what you have achieved, and illustrate your accomplishments with specifics.

Strive to make your resume professional but not stodgy, honest not wordy, neat not boring. Make your words bring your unique qualifications to life.

Strategy Tip #6: Know When It’s Time For A Remodeling Project

Remodeling isn’t just for drab kitchens–it’s also a great way to freshen up your resume and draw attention to what makes you a winning candidate. Just like any remodeling project, there are a dozen ways you can attack the job: a full demo, slight modifications, and everything in between. Look honestly at your resume and determine what can stay and what needs to go.

Based on the job description, and on all that you’ve learned about yourself, your audience and your competition, decide which aspect of your resume needs to be switched around or freshened up to shine a spotlight on the best possible version of you.

Resume writing is not for the faint of heart–but it is for champions of the job market, and it is a way to show that you have what it takes to be every hiring manager’s dream. More to the point, remember that your remodeling does not need to be a DIY project, and perhaps shouldn’t be. Hiring a truly skilled professional resume writer is a great investment. But what if you aren’t sure you need the help of a professional resume writer? Book a resume evaluation with me and I will be happy to review your resume and offer my recommendations.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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Michelle Dumas Michelle Dumas founded Distinctive Career Services, LLC (formerly Distinctive Documents) in 1996, one of the Internet’s longest-standing resume writing, personal branding, and career marketing firms. As one of only a handful of multiple certified professional resume writers, including the prestigious NCRW, CPRW, CPBS, CEIP, and JCTC credentials, Michelle is widely respected as an authority in the resume writing and employment services industries.