Is your resume stuck in '90s?

Job Coach Jane Purdue

A West Coast gal pal sent me her resume, asking that I review it. She's been looking for a job for six months, has sent out more than 200 resumes and has had only two interviews.

Resumes are a lot like fashion: certain elements go out of style. The last time she had looked for work was 1995, and her resume content and format were vintage 1995.

If you're in the same situation as my gal pal, pull out your resume and compare it to this list of 1995 oldies-but-not-goodies and see how your resume stacks up.

--Objective statement. If the first thing after your name and contact information is a sentence that reads, "I'm looking for a company where I can use my project management skills to advance my career," your resume is in trouble. Objective statements are about your personal goals. Employers today want to know what results you can deliver for them.

--Paragraph formatting. If there's a six- to 10-line single-spaced paragraph under the name of each employer containing information about what you did in that job, well, that's a no-no. Recruiters and/or hiring managers may have hundreds of resumes to read. Documents that look like a novel aren't going to pass the 30-seconds-to-grab-my-attention test.

--Accomplishments that are really job descriptions. Does your resume contain items such as, "Regularly attended management meetings," or, "Responsible for handling the budget"? If you're seeking a management job, of course you attended meetings and worked with a budget. Today, with the unemployment rate hovering between 9 percent and 10 percent in the tri-county area, your resume must distinguish you from the crowd. Do so by writing that you, "Instituted new budget controls that reduced office supply expenses by 5 percent."

--Imprecise language. Does your resume contain statements such as the following: "Assisted with new product report preparation," "responsible for correspondence," or "coordinated schedules"? Broad statements like these don't paint a clear picture in the reader's mind of what your contribution was. While you know what sort of work you did, your resume reader doesn't. You know that you spent days pulling together data about the new product your team designed and launched to record sales. All that grand detail is lost on the reader who sees only "assisted with new product report preparation."

--A memoir. Listing your hobbies, 20-year-old awards from the high school science fair or that you were a cheerleader in college most likely aren't relevant to the job for which you're applying. You need key words to both get past the automated resume reader systems and to get on the hiring manager's radar screen because your experience is relevant to their needs.

--References provided upon request. It goes without saying that you'll provide a list of references if or when the prospective employer asks for them. Use that extra line or two of space to include another accomplishment.

Submitting your resume to an organization is much like meeting someone for the first time -- you have only one chance to make a good impression. Make yours a good one!

Jane Perdue is principal/CEO for the Braithwaite Innovation Group. You can reach her through her company's website, www.braithwaite innovationgroup.com.

If you're seeking more in-depth information about writing your resume, the Center for Women is offering a three-hour "Power Resume" workshop at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9. $20.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women's Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make a counseling appointment; a donation of $35 is requested.