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March 4, 2009 > Counseling Corner: Creating a fantastic resume

Counseling Corner: Creating a fantastic resume

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

It's a tough job market out there and employers are being choosy about whom they hire. This makes it all the more important to have a top-notch resume that showcases your accomplishments and gets you an interview.

As a career counselor, I have spent many hours working closely with folks from all walks of life. I have seen every kind of resume out there. Quite often, people come in discouraged because they apply for hundreds of jobs without getting a response. I can usually pinpoint the reason - they have amazing skills and talents, but their resumes don't do them justice. I really enjoy helping people craft their resumes. It's a joy when I present them with the final version that truly showcases their skills. I can almost see their self-esteem and confidence rise as they behold a summary they are proud of.

I strongly recommend getting one or two people to review your resume. Writing it yourself is incredibly difficult - it really helps to have someone else offer a fresh perspective.

There are many ways you can format your resume. However, there certainly are better and worse ways to present yourself on paper.

Here is my list of top Don'ts:
* Don't write in the first-person, e.g. "I filed papers." Simply use a verb to start each point, e.g. "Filed papers...."
* Don't include hobbies, activities and interests unless they are somehow relevant and/or appropriate for the job you are applying for.
* Don't include personal information like age, gender, marital status, and number of dependents.
* Don't give a cell phone number unless you are prepared to answer it in a professional way.
* Don't put "References Available on Request" - this is obvious. Instead, use the space to highlight an accomplishment.
* Don't use the same resume for every job you are applying for. Tailor your resume for each employer.
* Don't write long paragraphs.
* Don't use too small a font size - you want to make sure the employer can actually read your resume!

Here is my list of top Do's:
* Do use the formula "Verb + Action + Results" whenever possible, e.g. "Reduced customer wait-time by 50% by initiating and implementing a tracking program to alert staff when average wait time exceeded 3 minutes." Using this formula makes for a powerful resume statement.
* Do use numbers and specifics when describing your accomplishments, e.g. "Increased sales by 40%."
* Do stick to one page if possible. A two-page resume is appropriate if all your experiences are relevant to the job you are applying for.
* Do take out what is NOT relevant, even if you are very proud of your accomplishments.
* Do target your resume for your reader; tailor your resume for what the employer is looking for.
* Do make sure the company's information is spelled right.
* Do use good-quality white paper if you are sending a hard copy.
* Do make sure your resume is easy on the eye - bullets and white space help your resume look crisp and professional.

If you're looking for a job right now, do take the time to review and revise your resume. This is critical for a successful job search. The time you spend crafting your resume will be worth it - especially when you get the call inviting you to interview!

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find maximum satisfaction in their careers and relationships. She can be reached at (510) 744-1781. Her website is

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