In the rush to get your resume in front of employers, stop for a minute (or a few hours) and consider whether you’re giving an accurate picture of your capabilities. All too often, candidates unload a mixed bag of skills, job duties, and meaningless phrases (take "self-motivated team player" – please) on employers, and then wonder why they’re still job hunting months later. It’s important to map out a resume strategy BEFORE writing anything! Get a clear picture of your goal, the skills you plan to market, and the audience you’re targeting. Then, run your document past these critical tests to ensure that it produces RESULTS: 1 – Are you thinking like a recruiter? Hold every word up to scrutiny–and I mean EVERY. Does it have relevance to the job you are pursuing? Does it show the level of leadership ac.plishment that you want to sell to employers? You’ll know the answers to these questions if you’ve done your homework. Peruse job ads, not just to apply, but to see if your content matches what employers are seeking. Think about it: if you’re trying to hire an operations manager, do you really want to see a list of college coursework for engineering on a resume? Probably not. Conversely, that list of process analysis, efficiency improvement, and metrics evaluation skills should be front and center – within the top half of the first page, if possible. Employers are interested in your work style and the pattern of achievement you bring to the table. The more you can articulate what those contributions look like, the more captivated your audience will be. 2 – Did you remember to add success stories? Most job hunters realize that they’ll need to discuss their achievements in the interview, in order to demonstrate their ability to handle challenges and solve problems. But did you know that you can also add these stories to your resume? Consider looking at the results of your work when writing your resume, using the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) strategy. To do so, first describe the situation you faced at work (Challenge), then what you did when faced with it (Action). Last but not least, the out.e (Result) that you achieved is the critical part. The C-A-R formula is a popular solution to BOTH resume writing and interview situations, and for good reason. When you describe your reaction to business problems, and the way in which you solve them, you give employers a clear picture of how you’ll handle similar issues. Here’s some examples: Original Sentence: Grew revenue 21% in 3 different markets. C-A-R Strategy: Grew revenue 21%, adding $1.7 million in 3 markets by training new sales representatives in benefit selling techniques. Original Sentence: Improved operations efficiency for production plant. C-A-R Strategy: Added 20% more operational output, despite use of outdated equipment, by developing training manual to increase employee efficiency. As you can see, using this method allows you to reframe your achievements and describe the context in which they occurred–all key information for employers. 3 – Are you making employers read a book? In my recruiting days, we simply tossed resumes that were 4 or 5 pages long–especially when they began with long, self-important paragraphs. If your strategy for updating your resume has always been to add your latest job, and then add the next, and the next… it’s time to STOP. Hiring authorities don’t have the time to wade through pages of your career to find out the relevance to their requirements. Summarize your credentials up front, and then chop–ruthlessly–from the back, until you’ve narrowed it to 2 or 3 pages at the most. 4 – Are you still using an outdated presentation? Job hunters who want to get hired in 2009 have learned to skip objective statements, tiny fonts, and outdated, 1-page formats. They gain key information on what a masterpiece resume looks like by visiting reputable websites that contain cutting-edge resume samples. A Google search can turn up a surprising array of styles and provide you with great starting points (NOT phrases to copy) for your own resume. Presentation is a critical piece of marketing yourself, yet very few people pause to consider this factor. The style and tone of a document will speak volumes about your qualifications and business savvy. Move outside fonts like Times New Roman and Arial, and experiment a little. Try out Book Antiqua or Garamond to shake things up a bit and help your qualifications stand out. 5 – Did you invite age discrimination? Most employers don’t care what you did 25 years ago! They consider achievements from the past 10-15 years to be most relevant. Even though you’ll want to show much-needed progression up the career ladder, the focus should be on what you’ve achieved lately. However, if you just can’t let go of that Senior Engineer or Banking Manager title from the 80’s, add it (without dates) in a one-liner at the end of your professional history. Also, consider that including "…over 30 years in sales…" isn’t the best way to describe your .petencies. Your strongest qualifications are demonstrated by describing how you generated profits, cut bottom-line costs, or retained customers. Overall, the best way to get attention during your job search is to throw out the excess wording, overused fonts, and worn-out phrases. Instead, focus on what employers need when they hire a new candidate, and how you can market THOSE capabilities using a fresh, direct approach. 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