Highlighted strengths on resumes get noticed

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article saying to add some humanity to your resume. My advice was this: If you have an interesting career progression, tell your story in a way that seizes an employer’s attention. I included an example about a job seeker who had built his career from supervisor to senior executive, and I offered a few tips about presenting this kind of work history in a resume.

But not every job hunter steps up the corporate ladder rung by rung. In fact, most people have non-linear careers. Maybe you started in customer service. Leapt to retail management. Switched over to bartending and worked at three restaurants in a single year. Sold real estate. Supervised a call center for years until you were laid off and accepted the next job that came along.

Luckily, you don’t need a fancy career evolution to stand out in a crowd of job seekers. What you need is an understanding of your own strengths and the unique contributions that you bring to the table. This is your story. Highlight it on your resume in a way that inspires hiring managers to stop what they’re doing, pick up the phone and call you for an interview.

When it comes to developing content for your resume, I suggest a two-tiered approach:

The more focused your resume, the better. With your diverse background and wide range of goals, it can be difficult to create a document that points toward a specific industry or position. Try anyway. If your resume is too broad, employers will probably shrug their shoulders, set your document aside and look for someone else.

To narrow down your resume, think about the type of jobs that interest you and try to separate them into categories. Let’s say you would accept a customer service or bookkeeping position. If you cram these unrelated goals into one resume, employers probably won’t respond. Split them apart and write two distinct documents.

In the customer service draft, emphasize your outgoing personality and communication skills. At the top of the first page, choose a title that matches your objective or experience, such as: “Client Relations &Account Management” followed by: “Dedicated to increasing sales and customer loyalty by providing friendly, knowledgeable support.”

In the bookkeeping resume, showcase your meticulous attention to detail and talent for working with numbers. Select a suitable title, like: “Bookkeeping Professional,” or keep it general: “Qualification Summary.” Include a follow-up statement, like this: “Able to calculate, track and report on financial data to improve accuracy and boost cash flow.”

Then, in both versions, write some bullet points that accentuate your relevant qualifications for each role.

Tie your accomplishments to dollars and cents. The next step in creating a job-winning resume is flashing your achievements throughout your career. If possible, illustrate your feats using percentages or dollar amounts so that hiring managers can visualize your bottom-line contributions.

Like this: “Assisted the sales team in landing 11 new accounts by identifying prospects and placing 25 cold calls each day,” or “Discovered invoice discrepancies that reclaimed $18,500 in income.”

Don’t worry about a haphazard work history. Just write a resume that broadcasts your strengths and zeros in on a particular goal. And make your accomplishments fly off the page.

Send questions to Eve.GetaJob@gmail.com.

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