Top 10 Tips for Writing your Resume/CV (Part 1)

It goes without saying that we are currently in one of the most challenging hiring environments that we have seen in decades. This environment will require you to be even more creative in the way you market yourself to a prospective employer. It is more important than ever to clearly demonstrate how you are solutions-driven and to be viewed as the one who can make it happen. More than ever, you will need to focus on your unique qualifications, skills and accomplishments. The good news is that with a little extra effort, you can create a resume/CV that makes you stand out as a superior candidate and will help you land that job.

What is a resume/CV, anyway?

Remember, a resume is a self-promotional, marketing document that should present you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited for a second look. Think of your resume as a marketing tool and think of yourself as a product. The potential employer is your customer and your resume is the brochure about you. What are your features and benefits? What makes you unique?

Today’s hiring managers have endless applicant choices. We are seeing a major increase in the number of resumes we get for every open job we have. I recently posted a senior level position, with very specific requirements to intel.com/jobs. Within days, I had over 350 responses…I had to quickly scan each resume and make my decision on who would move forward in the process. Here are my ten tips for ensuring that your resume gets to the head of the pack.

1. Focus – Know the purpose of your resume. Determine your job search objectives prior to writing it. Once you have determined your objective, you can structure the content of your resume around that objective. A targeted resume is much stronger than a generic resume, so write a different resume for each different job target. Tailor your resume and your cover letter to each employer.

2. Put accomplishments first – I am not a big fan of leading with an OBJECTIVES statement. I prefer to see a QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY that allows you to highlight your strongest credentials or “value proposition” to the resume reviewer – right at the top of the resume. Lead with your strengths and convey key messages early in the body of the resume where they are more likely to be read. Sell the experience that reflects your ability to help the company make more money, save money, figure out specific issues, solve problems, save time, be more competitive, build strategic relationships, expand business, and attract and retain customers. Make sure you let them know how you can help them. And, don’t forget to document past measurable results – identify areas that demonstrate value. Instead of creating a long, boring list of things you have done, try to connect them with real life and work experiences. Be sure to include any awards or recognitions you earned if they are applicable.

3. Show what you know/Show who you know – Use your resume to highlight your breadth of knowledge and use the interview to provide more detail and expand on what you stated in your resume. If you have reported to or worked with someone important such as a vice president or department head or someone well known in the industry, say so in your resume. Clearly explain the benefits of your skills. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself.

4. The 3 S’s – simple, short and sweet – A resume should be a brief “snapshot” of your qualifications. Strive to be clear and concise. Most employers don’t have the time or patience to read long paragraphs of text. Use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background, achievements and professional objectives. And, anything beyond a page (or two at the most) probably indicates a lack of clarity and direction. You don’t need to list everything you have ever done or go into detail about every accomplishment…stick to the critical points. Going back 10-15 years is usually enough, unless your best work experience is from farther back. Mentioning that you cleaned cages at the pet store when you were 16 is probably not going to help land you that executive level position.

5. Language – Start each sentence or performance statement with a vibrant action words like managed, coached, planned, prepared, monitored, developed and presented. Make yourself sound like a doer and talk about achievements instead of responsibilities. Most companies these days will run search queries based on specific key words so use strong key words, but don’t be generic. Even if you are very well qualified, if your resume does not contain the key words related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game begins. Check the job description and related job ads for clues on what the employer might be look for.

These are just five of the top ten tips I have for you. Check out the blog next week where I’ll finish the list and share tip number six through ten!

Find your opportunity

24 Responses to Top 10 Tips for Writing your Resume/CV (Part 1)

  1. Tim Hunkler says:

    Great stuff. I think point 5, second to last sentence should read “if your resume does not contain…”

  2. bonnie says:

    It’s such a catch-22, especially with contractors who do the same relevant work, for multiple employers over the years.
    If you have two pages they think you’re verbose, and if you have one page they wonder about the missing time gaps. Either way, recruiters pass over your resume.

  3. Sathish says:

    Dear Ms. Storm,
    Thank you for sharing your valuable suggestions!
    You mentioned that “A targeted resume is much stronger than a generic resume, so write a different resume for each different job target. Tailor your resume and your cover letter to each employer.” I agree with you. However, most of the companies are posting their jobs on their website and says “All attachments are associated with the candidate profile and are not specific to a position to which we may be applying.”
    Do you have any suggestions to find out the point of contact for such jobs and submit a targeted resume apart from submitting online?
    Thanks in advance for your consideration.
    Sathish

  4. @Bonnie, Yes, I agree that it can be a bit of a Catch 22…but I would always err on the side of being less wordy and more concise. For example, when you have done consulting work for a series of different companies, I would list the type of work that you did and include some of the highlights, and then list the companies below. Hopefully, if you get the interview, you can elaborate on exactly what you did and the impact it had.
    Example:
    November 2002 – August 2009 – Contract Recruiting Consultant
    On a contract basis, provided full-service recruiting for sales and marketing professionals, resulting in an improved time to fill and a cost savings of 20%. Clients included:
    Sun Microsystems, Inc., Santa Clara, CA – Nov 2002 – Jan 2004
    Intel, Santa Clara, CA – Jan 2004 – Aug 2008
    Bank of America, San Jose – Sept 2008 – Aug 2009
    (Sorry, the formatting might not come across on the blog.)
    @Sathish, Thanks for your note. I agree that it can get sticky when you are dealing with a company’s website…usually the process is that you create and post a generic “profile” that will be used for each of the jobs you are interested in. In most systems, you are not able to create a specific profile for each job that you would like to apply to. I would suggest that you read each job description carefully and try to include as many of the keywords in your profile as you can. This will broaden your appeal for the various openings you are interested in and should give you a more favorable result.

  5. @eric Glad you’re finding the tips helpful! I agree that a lot of resumes seem to land in a “black hole” somewhere. It’s unfortunate that some companies don’t do a better job of acknowledging submittals and I know it can really be frustrating for those who are looking for their next job. My fellow Jobs@Intel blogger, Dani, talks about this in the comment section on her blog post, “Yes, students, having your resume online really does matter.” At Intel, we’ve recently made several improvements to our Jobs at Intel applicant tool, with more on the way! You can now browse and apply to jobs using ‘My Job Cart’ and periodically check the ‘Job Status’ and ‘Submission Status’ for those jobs by logging into your Candidate Profile and viewing the tab ‘My Jobpage’.
    You would also know if you were on the short list (i.e., under consideration for an interview) for a specific job, because an Intel representative would have contacted you to gauge your interest and availability. A Staffing representative or the hiring manager also notifies all candidates who were on the short list (and beyond) when a job position is filled.

  6. Great article. Point #4 is key….short and sweet….too much info kills.
    Our non-profit organization has seen many, many CVs that looked like a 5th grader wrote them. Too bad they didn’t find your website.
    Also, I think that most of the new job seekers are getting more and more web savvy and using blogs and social networking more and more.
    Blogs can be great exposure for virtually anyone, yet certain careers are more blog inclined than others.
    For most traditional jobs (engineer, accountant, attorney, etc.) there is no substitute for a traditional resume.
    Our non-profit organization recommends people get a “real” resume to augment their blog or website.
    Our non-profit organization uses a great service that also sets people up with their own blog for promotion. This is not advertised on their website, yet this is a service they do for us and I think they do it for anyone asking for it. We thought this was very original, as none of the resume services we had contracted with in the past have offered any blog assistance.
    For info on getting a traditional resume and your own custom blog, go to http://www.careerpathresume.com
    Please mention that you heard about them from the Community For Advancing Urban Minorities (CAUM).

  7. Sample cvs says:

    I agree with the commenter David ” its important to design a resume.Some good sites is always been an open source for freshers to search for a suitable resume or cv.

  8. CV template says:

    Here are some more practical tips on writing an eye catching resume or CV:
    Read the job advert carefully – make detailed notes of the key skills the employer is looking for. Then focus on demonstrating your key skills and experiences that relate to the vacancy.
    Target your resume at the job you are applying for – by targeting you resume at a individual employer you stand a better chance of getting noticed. Do this by researching the job role, industry and company. Use industry related key words and terminology to impress the hiring manager. Also mention their products or services and also details of their competitors. A recruiter will be impressed by the fact that you have written something especially for them. The downside of this off course is that it can take time, however as it can greatly increase your chances of getting your dream job it is time well worth spending.

  9. Sejal says:

    @CV template, I shared your comment with Barb and here are her thoughts: “I agree…taking the time to customize your resume for the specific job you are seeking can really payoff in the long run. It’s always a good idea to do a bit of research on the company to see if you can find some areas where your skills specifically align. Thanks for your post.”

  10. Ramakrishna says:

    I applied for around 13 jobs in Intel India through this website till now since April 2010 and was getting an automatic system generated mail saying that my resume has not been selected for interview to that position. I took care to mention my skill set and customized my resume to suit the job description. It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t get atleast one interview call but I haven’t lost hopes yet. I have a few questions to ask and I’ll be very grateful if anybody can help me out.
    1) No longer accepting applications/submissions – does this mean the position is filled up? or does it mean that a few resumes have been selected and the interview process has begun? or something else?
    2) Is it ok if I upload my resume in pdf format? I suspect that my resume is not showing up to recruiter when he runs a search with some keywords.
    3) Anybody knows how an intel hiring manager runs a search for resumes/candidate profiles in this job site?
    I’ll be very thankful if someone can clear my doubts. My email: bhargava.086@gmail.com

  11. Sejal says:

    Hi Ramakrishna! I talked to two of our awesome bloggers who are a source and recruiter (Valerie and Tiffany!) and here’s what they shared:
    1) This means that someone has accepted our offer and we are no longer recruiting. It doesn’t change to this status until that time though.
    2) Yes, PDF’s are great! not a problem with our system. We see them regardless of format and they are still searchable in PDF.
    3) Hiring managers do not runt he searches, recruiters do! We run them based on key words. Make sure you have all of your skills articulated on the resume. If we run a VLSI, System Verilog search and those words aren’t on your resume, you won’t come back in the search. Also carefully read the required qualifications area, if they are required, you must have all of the listed experience and/or credentials (degree, years of experience). If you do not, it could be why you’re not chosen. Many times candidates feel they are a good fit because they have 1 or 2 of the required qualifications, remember, required means must have!

  12. tushar dwivedi says:

    sir,i am a b.tech 3rd year student of electronics and communication at NIT(national institute of technology) surat(gujrat,india). i have a serious interest in microprocessor’s and microcontroller’s programming (in both assembly level n’ HLL) and also want to increase my knowledge about embeded systems.i have worked on intel 8085,8051, AVR atmega16 and arduino duminalove till now in different projects and robotics contests. sir,i have heard that intel provides summer training in india for b.tech 3rd year students or the students who have completed 3rd year.
    but,unfortunately i don’t have much idea about it.i have heard that it is only possible if you have some contacts or something, but again i am unfortunate with this.so,please can guide me with this?
    thanx in advance.
    :)

  13. Sejal says:

    @Tushar, Thanks for your interest in training with us! We go to various colleges in India & select our batch of interns through a rigorous procedure.. Rest assured, it has got nothing to do with personal contacts! Alternatively, you could also look for opportunities on our Jobs at Intel website periodically and apply for the internship positions. Good luck!