Q: I was laid off from work a few weeks ago and just got around to polishing up my resume. I worked for the same company for almost 20 years so I'm not sure if the resume says enough to land me another position. I've seen so many different approaches so thought I'd see what you've got to say. -- Jerry Jobless
A: Dear Mr. Jobless: Let's change your last name to "NewJob," shall we? A well-written resume is the first step to those all-important contacts and that new position.
Over the years, I've written a number of resumes for clients and, in fact, just completed one for a person working part time with TSA. While resources abound from which an applicant might choose, several important steps run throughout all take-a-second-look resumes.
* To whom are you applying? Sounds like a silly question, huh? Unfortunately, many folks make the mistake of writing a generic resume and assume this shoe fits all companies' feet. Be sure to thoroughly research the company -- its products, its opportunities, its vision, and gear your resume towards these needs. Obviously, some of your info remains the same regardless of each company to which you're applying.
* Be honest. Don't say you're experienced in customer relations if you've always worked as a back-office technician. Along this same line, if you've acted as a event planner, certainly state this expertise but don't overuse the term.
* Keywords are important. Look through classified ads in newspapers and online. Check the websites of companies in which you're interested. Words that jump out at you mean something, so use but don't abuse them. I never use the same verb twice. See an example from the TSA person previously noted:
-- Engages in threat mitigation activities to protect all transportation modes
-- Improves security screening processes and personal performance
-- Communicates with the public in a professional and courteous manner
* Be concise. Just like a professional complaint letter, keep most resumes to a page if possible. Not only will your prospective employer not appreciate wading through several pages but, more than likely, your resume will end up in File 13.
To be continued next week.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.