The Power of Your Résumé

Based on a PowerPoint Presentation

Your résumé is a sales document designed to get you the interview. A common mistake is to try to tell everything you have done, to SELL the company on you, before they have even seen you


Most hiring managers today look for an achievement-based résumé – what you can do for a company. Deluged with more résumés than ever before, they will spend five seconds or less deciding whether to read further. Why would a hiring manager NOT look at your résumé?

You’ve broken one of the rules…

  1. Résumé mistakes include:
    Using unprofessional paper colors, cheap typewriter bond, or patterned paper
  2. Trying to be “cute” – it cheapens the impression you are trying to make
  3. Using funky or unreadable fonts
  4. Using all CAPS. This makes readability difficult and is akin to SHOUTING!
  5. Attempting to fill every square inch of the paper telling about yourself
  6. Using margins less that 0.5 inches
  7. Using unpopular word processing programs (unless you never intend to distribute your résumé electronically)
  8. Using slang or difficult abbreviations
  9. Expecting your reader to know what you mean
  10. Expecting that the employer will even LOOK at your third page
  11. Expecting the employer will make any effort to find out about you

Résumé Rule #1; PRESENTATION

  1. Use white or ivory, classic, granite (recycled), or parchment papers
  2. Be professional in your presentation
  3. Be scrupulous in your spelling and punctuation
  4. Read and re-read your document
  5. Put it aside and read it with fresh eyes
  6. Have it reviewed by friends

Résumé Rule #2: ORGANIZATION

  1. Name, Address, Phone, Cell, e-mail
  2. Business Philosophy
  3. Objective
  4. Core Competencies
  5. Education
  6. Training
  7. Experience
  8. Awards/Distinctions
  9. Affiliations
  10. Military Service
  11. Computer Skills
  12. Languages
  13. Presentations
  14. Seminars
  15. Relocate

What is the impression?

  • Is your résumé clear?
  • Is your résumé concise?
  • Is your résumé powerful?

Résumé Rule #3: FONT

  1. Use Times New Roman or other standard serif font for readability
    A less preferred option would be a standard non-serif font such as Helvetica or Arial
    Use a font size of at least 12 points so your résumé is readable and doesn’t look “crammed”
  2. Mixing multiple fonts is the kiss of death
  3. Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be

Résumé Rule #4: STYLE

  1. Use one, or at the maximum TWO fonts, with bold, CAPS, SMALL CAPS, or italics for emphasis
  2. Establish a style for your resume
  3. BE CONSISTENT in your pattern
  4. Use the same style, including header, for your cover letter

Résumé Rule #5: SECTIONS

  1. Use CAPS for emphasis, to delineate your name, or for important sections
  2. Use white space to rest the eyes of the reader and give importance to the various ideas presented
  3. The pattern should “waterfall” down the page to lead continued reading

Résumé Rule #6: FORMAT

  1. Organize your résumé so that it is visually pleasing
  2. Make sure that what is important for your desired job is listed first
  3. Most companies are using Word; very few are using WordPerfect
  4. Files saved in .rtf (real text format), may lose formatting

Résumé Rule #7: WORD CHOICE

  1. Use key words for your industry. If your resume is scanned, these may be what the program picks up
  2. Be clear and concise, using power verbs to create a dynamic overview
  3. Use partial sentences, starting with power verbs appropriate to goal

Résumé Rule #8: NUMBERS

  1. Use numbers to show reality…You say large, but does that mean 10, 100, or 10,000?
  2. How much? How big? How many? The employer is asking WIIFM… What’s In It For Me?
  3. You need to show how you will make a positive impact on the company

Résumé Rule #9: LENGTH

  1. Get the greatest impact from your first page…your “first impression”
  2. The second page is supporting documentation
  3. A third page DOES NOT EXIST unless you are doing a Curriculum Vitae for an academic position
    Aside from that, it will count against you

Résumé Rule #10: FOCUS

  1. Make it easy for the employer to find out about you.
  2. Readable résumé
  3. Important things first
  4. Résumé tailored for the listed job
  5. What to put in your résumé…and what to leave out…


Include as many ways to contact you as possible, including: name, street address, city, state, zip, phone, cell phone, and e-mail.

Use a font style consistent with the rest of your résumé in a size that makes it stand out.


Hiring managers need a reason to read the rest of your résumé, so you need to give a reason for them to continue reading.
So why are you better than sliced bread?


The most powerful ‘STOPPER’ is a small quote you glean from a letter of recommendation. The alternative is stating your philosophy to show why it will benefit the company to hire YOU


  1. Match your objective to the title of the job you are applying for
  2. Do not have a generic objective – e.g., ‘To increase my knowledge’ or ‘to get a starting position.’
  3. If your objective is to get a position, what happens when you’re hired? – you’ve accomplished your objective…


  1. Are there some very important skills you could not include in your OBJECTIVE?
  2. Alphabetize your list to avoid differences in perspective regarding importance.
  3. Don’t repeat information from your OBJECTIVE.


  1. High school or less…leave it out
  2. College degree over 20 years old–leave off the date
  3. Usually further down your résumé unless it is the most relevant information for the position
  4. Degree, institution, city,  state, and optionally…date
  5. If the degree raises questions that would be hard to answer…such as the case where a Masters in Social Work was a cab driver for 15 years after that…leave it out


For either category:

  1. Relevant to your OBJECTIVE:
  2. Have you taken TRAINING courses?
  3. Have you attended SEMINARS?
  4. Name of the Training/Seminar, Who presented by, City, State, Year


For any of these categories:

  1. Relevant to your OBJECTIVE, have you received Awards/Certificates/Licenses?
  2. List Award/Certificate/License, the organization that presented it, City, State, and Year


  1. List your jobs from the most recent to no more than 20 years back…you don’t want to look OLD
  2. Use job titles that describe your responsibilities, the name of the company, the city, state, start and ending YEAR


You may need to split experience into RELEVANT EXPERIENCE, followed by OTHER EXPERIENCE

EXPERIENCE (Specific 1)

  1. Write a brief paragraph describing what you did. Use résumé shorthand…
  2. Start your phrases with action verbs –managed, supervised, analyzed
  3. Use present tense if you are still working at the job, past tense for jobs completed
  4. Omit ‘filing’ or ‘database entry’ unless that is what you really want to do

EXPERIENCE (Specific 2)

  1. Quantify your achievements in a short, bulleted list of up to 4 accomplishments
  2. Use numbers to show what you can do, e.g., managed staff – how many? 2 or 20?


  1. Do you have a blank?
  2. If you get into an interview, how are you going to deal with it in a way that sounds like you were actually DOING SOMETHING.
  3. Why not put that SOMETHING in your résumé to start with?
  4. Blank years raise questions you may not want to answer.
  5. Volunteer work can be listed a JOB! Often, you are providing the skills, you just aren’t paid.
  6. Volunteer work can be an invaluable tool to access the job you want.
  7. Blanks – Alternatives
    Consultant – For the period you have blank, did people ask you questions about your area of expertise? Again, you may not have been PAID, but you were still called upon for your knowledge


  1. What types of computers are you familiar with?
  2. Operating systems?
  3. Software?
  4. This can be a brief or extensive section depending on importance to your OBJECTIVE. Location in your résumé also depends on relevance.


  1. Are there professional organizations you belong to?
  2. Are there non-professional groups that tie in with corporate interests?
  3. Don’t list every organization–Political or religious affiliations should not be included unless they are directly relevant to the job.


  1. Optional
  2. May use if you were in the service and the information is not included in your EXPERIENCE section
  3. Branch and Year (Optional)
  4. Notes


  1. Have you served as a volunteer or a sponsor?
  2. This can be a very important piece to tell the hiring manager that
    you ‘give back’ to the community.
  3. What your interests are (do they tie in with your objective?)


  1. Relevant to your OBJECTIVE, have you given any speeches or presentations?
  2. Specific years may not be necessary…e.g., if you did a weekly sales presentation in your last job , you can just list, ‘Sales.’


Do you have any language skills?


LEAVE IT OUT! I don’t care if you like swimming, sports, or machine-embroidery. Unless you are applying for a job stitching monograms on team towels, it’s not relevant!


  1. The order on your résumé is based on the importance of the item to a particular position.
  2. And most importantly: FOLLOW UP!
  3. Remember – the purpose of your résumé is to get the interview, not the job!
  4. If you are having difficulty… Consider hiring a professional to prepare your résumé
  5. You are probably NOT a résumé professional – you are a professional at doing YOUR WORK!
  6. Quite often, you are too close to objectively analyze what the hiring managers need

Be prepared to…think about what your objective is:

  1. Provide dates (years only!) for the positions you have held
  2. Describe what you did in each job, how many people reported to you, how much money you saved the company


  1. What you want, and what you will settle for…
  2. What your strengths are and what interests you…
  3. Where you are going long term…

Your Résumé

  1. Is not a one time expense
  2. Is a growing document
  3. Is an investment to help you get the right position
  4. Can change the way others look at you

Are you ready?