Resume Tips or Résumé Tips or Resumé Tips

I was recently laid off from my job as Marketing Manager, and the first thing I did, after eating 10 litres of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream upon realizing I have to find a job, was look over my résumé. I spell résumé with the accents because:

  1. It’s the right way to spell it
  2. I live in Quebec so I have a French keyboard with all the accents
  3. It’s the right way to spell it

In any case, no matter how you spell it, writing a résumé/resumé/resume is a time-consuming, and often painful, process. I’ve been working in marketing for over 5 years now, and before that, I worked in administration for about 8 years. I vetted hundreds of résumés during that time, done phone and face-to-face interviews, I’ve hired people, I’ve even fired people, so you would think this would be an easy process that would take me a couple of hours. It took me two days.

Why? Because writing a résumé is not just about listing your education, experience and responsibilities. It is about marketing yourself and making sure you stand out among the competition. To be honest, my first tip would be to consider résumé writing services. They can write it from scratch or rework your existing CV to ensure its attractiveness to employers.

If you really want to write your own, then there are a few things you should know first.

Tip #1 – Do NOT use a template! There are a ton of sites offering templates for free, but there are also thousands upon thousands of people using these same templates and just “tweaking” it by adding in their personal information. You may think the chances of an employer receiving 2 nearly identical applications is slim, but I can tell you first hand, it happens. I can also tell you that I automatically discarded those 2 applicants. I don’t want to read generic résumés, I want to know what you can do and so do most employers searching for the perfect candidate.

Writing an original résumé is like writing a blog, except without the 12 loyal followers who leave comments about how beautiful, smart and incredibly talented you are. Ok, so it is exactly like writing a blog. You need to include the right keywords.

husky, dog

Also loyal, but can’t take dictation.

Tip #2 – Think about what an employer is looking for!! You may very well be loyal and hard-working, but those are not typically the words recruiters, hiring managers and employers look for. What are the keywords they are looking for? Read the job announcement. Done that? Good! Now do it again. What are the first criteria they ask for? Do they repeat, or emphasize, certain strengths, experience or skills? Those are the things you should be focusing on. Use those keywords when describing your responsibilities and accomplishments.

Ok, so you’ve read the ad, you’ve noted their desire for, let’s say, someone with management experience, and the repeated references to excellent communication skills. You believe you’re an excellent communicator and can even demonstrate examples where you talked your way out of a prison sentence, but you’ve never been in a management position, although you’ve been carrying your boss’ ass long enough to know you can do the job. Awesome! But you can’t say that. Or can you?

Tip #3 – Transferable skills and experiences are your friend! You may never have been hired as a manager BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean you never managed a project at your last job. Or maybe you were the team leader for a group project in school and received an excellent grade or you were a volunteer who organized a fundraising event. These experiences count!  On their own, perhaps they don’t seem impressive enough, but combined with your work history and the keywords you’ve used to describe it, they can garner you the attention you are looking for.

playground ride

Actually, if you led this horse to water, I would be impressed.

I hear you, you know. Yes, it’s a gift I have – I hear blog people. You’re saying “Um, Nicky? What if the only thing I’ve led is a horse to water? Or what if this is my first job because my parents are finally kicking me out of their basement? I don’t have a great work history or a ton of transferable skills!! What do I do?!” Well, I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do:

medical degree, harvard medical school

In my spare time, I dabble in brain surgery.

Tip #4 – Do NOT lie, exaggerate, or “take creative liberties” with your résumé!! Keep it real, because employers do check your references and they will find out if you’ve made stuff up. The key here is to be realistic in the jobs you are applying for. Whether you’re a student looking for your first job, a stay-at-home mom looking to get back into the work force, or you’re looking to change careers, try applying to job opportunities requiring less years of experience, less specialized knowledge and more competency-based elements. Then use Tips 2 & 3 to show how you have demonstrated those competencies in other situations.

Like I said, not an easy task, even for someone with experience! If you do decide to tackle it on your own, take your time, spell check regularly and then ask at least 2 people to read it over. My final bit of advice; unless your mom is an HR manager, don’t make her 1 of the 2 people. Ask people you trust, who have experience hiring people or who own their own businesses. Then ask them if they need a Marketing Manager. Thanks!




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  • SP

    CV tips … no accents!

  • All 3 versions, with and without the accents, are accepted as correct. It depends on what is acceptable form in your area. Here in Quebec, the accents are mandatory.

    CV tips…no abbreviations!

  • I love to read the resumes and cover letters of incompetent people. When we’re hiring we put our add on Craigslist, it always specifically says “bring your resume in person” and 8 of the 10 people that reply daily email it. I love it when the cover letter and resume are full of grammatical errors, or the formatting is all wonky with mismatched margins. And I always always take the people who spend a few bucks on expensive paper and envelopes into consideration.
    The company above us was hiring, and a dude came into our office and asked to pull his resume because he forgot to bring his own copy, inventive, sure, but he left it up. And it was the description of himself from it was three lines, and he’s only been self-employed as an entrepreneur. He was dressed like a Guido in a trench coat and striped suit.
    I think they gave him the job, but he didn’t last very long.

  • Madge, one time I got a résumé from a guy for an admin assistant position. His cover letter went on and on about his “faculty” with the “english” language and how in his spare time, he “tutoured” students learning “english” as a second language. 4 unforgivable errors, not for an admin asst. but for a person boasting about his language skills! I never even called him for a phone interview!

    I can’t believe they hired that guy!! A 3-line résumé??? They must have been desperate!

  • Thank you for the generous offer BonyMike. I truly appreciate it. Sincerely. If I hadn’t already finished my c.v., I would definitely have asked for your help.

    BTW, how do you know I’m way less perky than her? I can be perky, even when sober. Yes, I can. Ok, no I can’t. Whatever.

  • I like to call my résumé a curriculum vitae because nobody reads Latin. If a lot of people suddenly started reading Latin, and I don’t know why they would, then I would switch to Sanskrit, especially if I wanted a job as a technical support operator for Microsoft Windows Vista, the worst operating system in the history of operating systems. I still believe William Henry”Bill” Gates owes me a refund for that one, I don’t care how good Windows 7 is. In fact, he probably owes me a job forscrewing me around for about three years with Vista. I could write speeches for him, or even a curriculum vitae, which he needs now that he’s not the CEO of Microsoft anymore but a doting stay-at-home dad/philanthropist. I would be very creative with his curriculum vitae, so much so that I could almost guarantee to get him a job. But I would never start his cover letter with the sentence, “I love organic meat.” Although that
    sentence once got me a job as the editor of the legendary Organic Times magazine, I don’t think it would work for my good
    friend Bill, not because he’s a vegetarian — that’s his brilliant competitor, Steve Jobs — but because he probably doesn’t care all that much about whether his cows get their shots, and neither do his prospective employers. Instead, I might try something more pointed, like, “Give me the job, or I’ll buy the company and fire you.” I think most human resource managers would find that sentence very credible and motivating. Anyway, if you need any help writing your
    resume, let me know. The only idea I have for you right now is, “Hi, I look like that woman in the T-Mobile ads, but I’m WAY less perky than her unless I’m drunk.” It’s not terrible, but it might not be the best approach, especially since T-Mobile is about to get bought up by AT&T and you don’t want to be out of a job again if that happens.

  • SP

    Here we can’t find accented key boards!
    CV abbrev.. Ha

  • “… but you’ve never been in a management position, although you’ve been carrying your boss’ ass long enough to know you can do the job.  You have no idea how those words ring true with me.  Oh, sure, I was basically masquerading as my boss for a few years and would probably have continued to do so if it weren’t for the stress (not so much the pretending part but the deadline part) – that and I’d have to have passed the Bar.  Details.

    Seriously, your advice is very good!  You apparently have great marketing skills – so much so that you might even be able to make Quebec pay its fair share of federal levies.

  • When working in the engineering field, I found most engineers wanted to write a proposal starting with “We are pleased to submit this proposal”.  Say what?  A client does not give a shit about what you are pleased about.  It’s all about “the client” or “the employer” and their needs.  And then how you can supply the perfect solutions to those needs or problems.  You obviously are well equipped to do your own resume.  I take a little more leeway with the cover letters.  Sometimes shock value is good.  Sometimes it isn’t.  It’s a judgment call.  I have sometimes suggested that I spent a summer dancing in the chorus line at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.  That always got me an interview.

  • Nothing like a Bar exam to make you reevaluate your priorities! LOL

    Thanks Dozo! I may be good, but I’m not that good…pay federal levies…hahahahahaha! You crack me up!

  • Cover letters are where you can allow more of your personality to show through, as well as some of your “extracurricular” accomplishments….like being a showgirl in Vegas! So, tell the truth…did you or didn’t you?

  • Get the interview?  Every time I indicated a shady lady past I got an interview.  They wanted to take a look!

  • I wish I had all those accents on my keyboard. Is there such a thing as accent envy?

  • There is now! 🙂

  • Nicky, clearly you need to set up your own shop writing resumes (U.S. keyboard – can’t find accents) for people.  You’re a natural.   Not only that but you should definitely submit this post to some magazines.  

  • Wow, thank you Jayne! I appreciate that a great deal.

  • Do it!  I’m totally serious.  

  • Yes ma’am! 🙂 Ok, the link in this post is to the new Tribal Blogs writing & SEO services. I would be one of the freelancers available for many of the services, including résumés. As for the magazines, why not? Thanks for the encouragement!

  • i have been out of job for more than a year now and your posts really helps me conceptualize my resume…thanks!

  • Glad I could help Rovie and good luck with your job search!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome tips and advice.I like most..Thanks for sharing!
    Administration Resume Objectives

  • Pingback: There Will Be Cheese » We Work For Cheese » Blog Archive()

  • Thanks for sharing this nice resume tips.


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