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Effective Resumes

Gain helpful hints and tips from a career expert on how to improve the effectiveness of your resume.

Simplify Your Resume

by Kevin Donlin

About 150 years ago, Henry David Thoreau had two things to say that can help you write a better resume today. They are: "Simplify! Simplify!"

You've heard many times that you have only 15-30 seconds to impress readers of your resume. So, the simpler and easier-to-read you can make it, the better.

Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Begin with clarity.

I'm always amazed by the number of resumes that begin with no objective or summary statement. As a result, the employer is forced to start reading without knowing what the applicant can do.

Many resumes begin by listing education, for example. But even if your degree is in high demand, such as computer science, you're still leaving room for misinterpretation (Does this person want a job in network administration? Telephone support? Internal help desk?)

Instead, try opening with an objective such as this: "Position in network administration where my computer science degree and technical skills will add value."

If you want to be more flexible about the job you're after, you can say: "Position where my computer science degree, troubleshooting skills and customer service experience will add value."

2. Group information logically.

Hurried readers want to quickly scan through your resume. You can help them by breaking things down into logical groupings. Don't jumble things together, as in this example:

Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows NT 4.0 Server, MS Exchange, DOS, Windows 95/98, MS Word, MS Excel, MS Access, MS Outlook.

Break longer lists into smaller bits and give them a clear heading, like this:


* Operating Systems - Windows NT 4.0 (Workstation and Server), Windows 95/98 and DOS.

* Applications - Microsoft Exchange, Word, Excel, Access and Outlook.

3. Focus on results.

To make it easier for your reader to picture you achieving results on the job for him/her, clearly show how you've done it for others. Be as specific as possible.

Avoid dry language, like this: "Responsible for maintaining accurate inventory, acquisition and delivery of supplies."

Try saying this, instead: "Vastly improved customer service while cutting costs 24% by accurately managing inventory, acquisitions and deliveries."

Simple is good. When you begin your resume with clarity, group your information logically and focus on results, you'll enjoy a simply wonderful job search.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. This article and hundreds like it on topics ranging from networking to resume writing to finding internships also appear in The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need, a self-help job guide.