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How to Get Your Resume Noticed

July 5, 2011
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You’re a great person and a great speech-language pathologist, and your clients know you do great work, so why aren’t you getting a better response to your job applications? Is there something wrong with your resume? It may be time to rethink, even rewrite, your resume. Giving it a fresh look may help you get results. Here are some tips to increase the chance that a prospective employer will give your resume the serious consideration that it deserves.

Resume Format

Perhaps you need to use a different resume format than what you’ve been using. Chronological resumes list your work experience in sequence, the most recent work being at the top of the list. Functional resumes focus on the skills you possess that are required for the job you’re applying for. You may need numerous functional resumes, each one tailored to the job you’re interested in getting. Use a functional resume if your work experience includes absences from the workplace (e.g., for maternity leaves). Then there’s the combination resume, which melds a chronological and functional format. This is ideal for people who don’t have a lot of work experience or all the relevant skills specified by a prospective employer. List your skills and where you developed those skills. You can still list your work history, but you don’t need to put the job description in this combo format.

Remove the Empty and Overused Lingo

Terms such as “team player”, “multitasker”, “results-oriented”, and “going forward” are all overused and are often thrown in just because they’re expected. People routinely add them into the resumes, so their meaningfulness is gone. Check that each sentence and each term actually reflects some skill you possess. If not, replace the wording with something meaningful that is relevant to the job for which you are applying.

List Your Achievements as Well as Your Duties

After listing your job duties, you can add a section entitled “Achievements”. This gives you a chance to describe what you achieved as a result of your duties. If you can, provide some quantification for your achievement, such as “96% of my clients, when surveyed, rated the outcome of their speech-language therapy services as above average to excellent.” Or, perhaps your highly reputable work has resulted in a significant increase in referrals to your present workplace.

Do You Have an Objective?

If you have an objective, be sure to include it. As an alternative, you could write a summary statement or paragraph about who you are as a professional. Write this section in a manner that shows how your expertise will be beneficial to the prospective employer. Be specific and note particular achievements or qualifications that support your claim to have skills of value to the employer.

Are There Gaps in Your Resume?

It’s not a sin to be out of work, but many employers do hesitate when they see chronological gaps in resumes. If you were unemployed but available for work, a functional resume might be a better selection because it focuses on your skills and experience and less on chronological lists of jobs. You can even fill in the gaps with information about what you were doing: on maternity leave, caring for a sick relative, writing a novel, travelling, and so on. It shows employers that you are not hiding anything.

Simple Elegance

Choose a layout, paper, and fonts that are elegant and easy to read. Huge fonts, too much bold typeface, bright colors or bright paper just look like a bad business ad and will end up in the recycling bin before anyone bothers to read your resume.

Final Editing

Be sure that your name, address, phone numbers, and email address are all correct. Also, check for consistency throughout your resume. If you indented info with a specific bullet, be sure that this indentation is consistent in size throughout your resume and you use the same bullet. If you put a period at the end of some bullet points, put one at the end of all bullet points. Run the spelling and grammar checker, but re-read your resume and even ask someone else to read it to find those mistakes that the spell checker misses. Be sure to use the same format, fonts, and layout in your cover letter as in your resume.