Careers Issue

Powering up your resume

In tough times, spamming the world with the same old resume just doesn’t cut it. Don’t give up -- change your strategy.

By Michael Fitzgerald
March 7, 2010

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Your resume must offer more than just the standard one- to three-page list of jobs and responsibilities. It has to pop with accomplishments. “Don’t say ‘excellent writing skills.’ Say, ‘ghostwrote speeches for the CEO’ or some other thing that demonstrates your skill,” says George Zeller, senior employment specialist at Boston’s Jewish Vocational Services.

Resumes today also need to be searchable. Companies will often parse resumes by searching for terms that match the job skills and experiences they want. Instead of a generic “objective” or “summary,” start off your resume with the title of the job you want and a few sentences focusing on your main strengths and goals. Underneath, put a few keywords or phrases (four to 12 total), such as “effective deal closer,” says Marg Balcom, principal at MBM Career Management Services in Natick. Tailor accomplishments and skills to include phrases from the job description. Balcom says that most people will find it takes only 10 minutes or so to customize a resume for the job they’re seeking.

You can’t stop with a customized, amped-up resume. You need a profile on LinkedIn, a networking site for professionals. LinkedIn is “almost as, if not more, important than the traditional resume,” says Colin Moor, an executive at career management firm Keystone Associates in Burlington. Add the URL for your LinkedIn profile to your actual resume. Moor says most people don’t get hired after they respond to a help wanted ad; more often, they get jobs because someone vouches for them. So instead of blindly firing off a resume, use the search function in LinkedIn to see if you know someone who knows someone at the company, who might then get your resume in front of the hiring manager.

The importance of networking means you also should have a networking profile or outline. Instead of handing out business cards, which say very little about you, hand out a page that includes your contact information, titles of your past jobs, and your wish list: industries, positions, and companies you’d like to work for.

Pulling all this together might sound like a lot of work. But that’s what it can take to get a job these days.

Michael Fitzgerald is a freelance writer in Millis. E-mail him at

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