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How to Write Your Resume for the Right Audience

By Susan Ireland

Your resume is about your future, not your past.

Based on this principle, keep in mind while writing your resume that your audience is the hiring manager for the position mentioned in your job objective statement.

Hit the Target

A targeted resume can get you considered by a hiring manager or search committee, while a general resume is apt to get lost in the pile of competing resumes.

The key concept in writing a winning resume is to keep the focus on your job objective, which means you may need to tailor your resume each time you apply for a different job. Don't groan… revising your resume isn't that much work, and it's well worth your energy when you consider how much more effective your document will be in today's tough job market.

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Consider Your Audience

In order to sell yourself to this potential employer, create statements that are meaningful to him or her. In some cases you may need to:

Use more generic terminology to downplay the differences and emphasize the similarities between your previous position and your job objective.

Example:

Brenda was a salesperson who wanted to make a career change into elementary school teaching. She tried to bridge the gap between her two careers by emphasizing the common denominators of the two experiences.

Preferred version:

• Made presentations to multicultural audiences, incorporating small group activities and individual coaching to ensure that each person understood the subject matter.

Instead of:

• Made marketing presentations to corporate executives, achieving an average of 34% more sales than fellow presenters.

Select the aspect of the achievement that relates to the job objective.

Example:

As a horticulturist, Patty was surprised to learn that the part of her job she liked the most was answering client questions. When she wrote her resume for a job as a travel agent, she emphasized her customer service skills and downplayed her scientific expertise.

Preferred version:

• Assisted customers in selecting from over 2,000 options by patiently answering questions and educating them about costs and benefits.

Instead of:

• Provided scientific information on thousands of plant species, as the lead horticulturist of the country’s most prestigious botanical garden.

Prioritize your statements so the one most relevant to your new job is first.

Example:

In her former job as office manager, 75% of Andrea’s time was spent processing administrative paperwork, and less than 25% on training and supervision. She wanted to get a job as a corporate trainer. So she prioritized her achievement statements to stress the training experience even though it was not her primary responsibility.

Preferred version:

• Trained 13 employees on new automated accounting system, providing classroom sessions, individual coaching, and written instructions.
• Led office to achieve “#1 Team” award by motivating staff to take a customer service approach to all internal and external interactions.
• Supervised administration of firm’s largest litigation department with over 300 cases per week.

Instead of:

• Supervised administration of firm’s largest litigation department with over 300 cases per week.
• Led office to achieve “#1 Team” award by motivating staff to take a customer service approach to all internal and external interactions.
• Trained 13 employees on new automated accounting system, providing classroom sessions, individual coaching, and written instructions.


About the author...

Susan Ireland is the author of four job search books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume. For more information about writing your resume, read Susan's books or visit Susan's website SusanIreland.com.


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