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Your Career Alternatives. Welcome to The Powerful Resume Workshop Targeting Your Career & Audience Formatting For Maximum Impact Marketing Your Resume Scan Technology Cover Letters “IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHEN YOU GET THERE?”. Resume Tips.

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Your Career Alternatives

Welcome to

The Powerful Resume Workshop

  • Targeting Your Career & Audience

  • Formatting For Maximum Impact

  • Marketing Your Resume

  • Scan Technology

  • Cover Letters


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Resume Tips

A resume is defined as a “recapitulation or a summary

In the business world, a resume is a document that is scanned, not read, and is used to either create interest or screen outcandidates

The purpose of a resume is to get an interview

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Targeting Your Career & Audience

Pinpoint Your Goal

Before you begin, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you making a lateral move?

  • Are you seeking a promotion?

  • Are you career transitioning

    The most effective way to begin targeting your resume is to search openings that appeal to you on job boards, internal company postings, and newspaper classifieds.

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Targeting Your Career & Audience

Match Yourself to the Job

  • When you look at a job listing, highlight the qualifications that are required and the duties that you would be expected to assume.

  • Every match in terms of required qualifications and your experience should serve as a keyword in your resume.

  • The more closely the content of your resume matches the content of these postings, the more likely you will be asked to interview.

  • Be careful, though, not to simply repeat phrases found in a job listing. Your goal is to demonstrate your understanding of the role and your applicable experience.

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Targeting Your Career & Audience


  • Keywords can include industry-specific jargon or acronyms, such as the following:

  • You should employ other nouns or phrases that indicate your qualifications and knowledge of required tasks.

    Companies that employ scanners require a set number of hits on keywords before the hiring manager will personally review a resume. For that reason, it is always wise to incorporate as many keywords as possible into your resume.

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Formatting for Maximum Impact

When your resume is reviewed, it must be appealing, while accurately reflecting your industry or career goal. If it’s not — no matter how brilliantly it is written — it will likely be added to the rejection stack.

To ensure that your resume receives the attention it deserves, it’s important to adhere to certain formatting guidelines, which address:

  • Template and font choice

  • Effective use of white space

  • Prioritization of data

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Formatting for Maximum Impact

  • Template & Font Choice

  • In all cases, templates and font choice should:

  • Be easy to follow

  • Accurately reflect your career or goal

  • Be easy to read

  • When in doubt about font choice, always err on the conservative side. Two good choices are Times New Roman or Arial in 11 points — no smaller, or the text will be difficult to read.

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Formatting for Maximum Impact

Effective Use of White Space

  • There’s no quicker way to get your resume ignored than to use narrow margins, or block after block of uninterrupted text. No one wants to read a text-heavy document with sentences that run on and on.

  • The goal is to get your point across quickly, with a minimum of words. Use bulleted sentences within special sections (Experience, Qualifications, etc.), separated by well-placed white space.

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Qualifications Summary & Skill Set

What is a Qualifications Summary?

  • It’s a brief paragraph that showcases your most effective skills and experience.

  • It’s your chance to convince a hiring manager of the skills you can bring to the position. This is essential — hiring managers generally afford no more than 10 seconds to your resume, unless they’re compelled to read further.

  • Note that personal pronouns are not used here. In business writing, which includes resumes, personal pronouns such as I, me, or my are never used.

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Qualifications Summary & Skill Set

What is a Skill Set?

It's a list of your core competencies, as they relate to your career goal.

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Accomplishments & Special Skills

There is nothing on your resume more important than your Accomplishments. Why?

Think of it this way: you’re a hiring manager with one position to fill and 10 qualified candidates. Each candidate has the same basic educational and professional background. So, who gets the job?

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Accomplishments & Special Skills

What is a Quantified Accomplishment?

A quantified Accomplishment should include dollar figures, percentages, and time periods.

For example: An accountant has streamlined procedures, realizing a $2,500 monthly savings for his company. A dollar figure quantifies the accomplishment, while noting "streamlined procedures" explains how he did it. If he achieved those savings within three months of hire, it might be written this way:

  • Achieved a $2,500 monthly savings for XYZ Company within three months of hire by streamlining procedures.

  • Imagine the hiring manager’s reaction to the above, as opposed to this entry: “Streamlined procedures for XYZ Company.” Doesn’t say much, does it?

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Accomplishments & Special Skills

Special Skills

Special Skills should be presented up front so that a hiring manager knows what you can do. In some instances, a special section (i.e. Computer Skills, Languages, Office Procedures, etc.) should be created to showcase these Special Skills.

Special Skills include:

  • Computer proficiencies

  • Office procedures such as answering multi-lined phone systems, taking dictation (include speed), transcription, typing (include speed), 10-key, etc.

  • Linguistic capabilities (fluency in a foreign language, ability to translate, etc.)

  • Any skill that’s industry-specific

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Education & Training

The Impact of Experience

  • If you’re an entry-level candidate with little or no professional experience, your education should be presented immediately after the Qualifications Summary and/or skills area. The reasoning for this is that education is currently your most marketable asset. Here, you would include:

    • GPA (if 3.5 or above)

    • Awards/scholarships

    • Dean’s list

    • Coursework relevant to job search

  • If you’re a professional with five or more years of experience, Education should be listed last on your resume. GPAs, awards or scholarships, and mention of dean’s lists are not generally provided in a professional or executive resume, except for those used for entrance into graduate school programs.

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Education & Experience


Include all specialized training that is transferable to your new job target. If you have not attended college, definitely include all specialized training in your target field. Hiring managers generally prefer to see some post-secondary education. 

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Scannable Resume Design

Part One: The Basics

  • When you send your resume to the HR department of major corporations (and even some smaller companies) they employ special software to scan applicants. Because many candidates apply for one opening, this software is used to “weed out” those who don’t match the job criteria.

  • To make the most of your job search, it’s essential for your resume to be in a format that can be read by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

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Scannable Resume Design

OCR Technology

  • With OCR, it’s a computer, not a human being, which will be scanning your resume for appropriate content. Since machines are not impressed by font styles and other formatting enhancements, content is all-important, as is the presentation of your document in a scanner-friendly manner.

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Scannable Resume Design


It’s wise to put your name on each page of your scannable resume. Why?

If one of the pages gets separated, it will be nearly impossible to know where it might belong. It’s best to avoid this situation by putting your name at the top of each page, along with a page number.

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Scannable Resume Design

Contact Information

  • In addition to your street address, include an e-mail address. Choose an address that’s businesslike in tone, rather that one reflecting a special interest or a nickname. For example, the following are inappropriate:




  • Always be professional — and avoid using work e-mail addresses. Hiring managers are rarely interested in interviewing someone who is using their current employer’s time to look for another job.

  • It’s wise to include a cell-phone number along with your home number, especially if that’s your easiest point of contact. However, be certain of the quality of your phone and service before offering it. Nothing is more frustrating to a hiring manager than to conduct a conversation through static and breaks in conversation.

  • In modern resumes, fax numbers are rarely provided. Also, never include current work numbers.

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Scannable Resume Design

Scanner-Friendly Fonts

Since scanning equipment may differ from company to company, it’s best to err on the conservative side when choosing fonts. Avoid all "designer" fonts and stick with classics like Arial or Times New Roman. Other good choices are Garamond, Bookman, Courier New, and Century Schoolbook.

Don’t make the software work extra hard to read all the characters in your resume, as this may lead to mistakes and missed keywords. It’s best to use a font size between 9 and 12.

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Scannable Resume Design


Unlike resumes being read by a human audience, scannable resumes must be easy to read by computer software. Stick to basics and avoid formatting headaches. Your best choice is to:

  • Be certain all type is flush left.

  • Separate sections with white spaces, rather than dashes, dots, or tildes.

  • Not use tables or graphics.

  • Put section headers in ALL CAPS.

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Scannable Resume Design

Part Two: Keywords

  • Keywords are nouns or noun phrases indicating your skill set or qualifications. For some federal job openings, a resume must have a 95 percent or higher hit rate for a candidate to be given serious consideration.

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Scannable Resume Design

Working Keywords In

  • To work keywords into your scannable resume, you have two options. You can create a list at the beginning of your resume, or you can sprinkle them throughout.

  • Remember, the more closely your background matches the qualifications of the new job, the more likely it is that you’ll be invited to interview.

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Keyword Optimization

  • Please. Hire. Me.Keyword-Optimized Resumes

  • Those in the Web business know that optimizing a site page is essential to getting it on the search-results lists of major search engines like Google. Nowadays, with the combined impact of online resume-posting and the increasingly prevalent use of scanning technology, even by small companies, the same principle applies to your resume: optimization is essential!

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Market Your Resume

Target Your Resume

  • Determine which jobs you're interested in and target your resume to each one.

  • Don't submit the same version of it for every job you apply for — change words and move things around so your resume uses some of the same lingo as the job descriptions.

  • Use keywords to highlight your experience and accomplishments that best match those sought for each job. Your goal should be to match the content of your resume as much as possible to the qualifications and duties described in each job notice.

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Market Your Resume

Make It Stand Out

  • A visually appealing and easy-to-read resume gets attention.

  • Skip the fancy fonts, long paragraphs, and flowered stationary.

  • Use as few words as possible and make creative use of white space, bold letters, sectioning, and bullets.

  • A potential employer should be able to scan over your resume quickly to determine if it deserves a longer look. You want them to notice what's great about your resume, not the color of the paper.

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Market Your Resume

Shift Your Priorities

  • For each job you apply to, shift items around on your resume so that the first thing any potential employer sees is exactly what they're looking for. If they're specifically looking for someone who speaks Swahili, put it at or near the beginning of your resume (as long as you actually speak it, of course!) It's a simple strategy — the things they want go first, the things that are less appealing or less important to the job go last.

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An Updated Resume

The Importance of Keeping Your Resume Updated

  • Whether or not you're on the hunt for a new job, keeping your resume up-to-date is important. There's nothing worse than scrambling to come up with an accurate and interesting resume when you have two days to make the submission deadline for a job opening.

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Design Techniques

Power Verb List

  • Though keywords may impress a computer enough to get your resume to the hiring manager's desk, you still have to impress that live human being enough to keep it out of the trash. As any writer will tell you, the key to compelling prose lies in the action words: verbs. 

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Resume Tips

Your resume should catch the attention of the employer within the first 20 seconds or you may lose that opportunity

  • Your resume is the most important bit of information about you.

  • List your quantifiable accomplishments up front, and relate them to the position you are applying for.

  • List your accomplishments in bullet form and include facts, numbers, percents, rankings, dollars that make you stand out.

  • Make certain everything in your resume relates to the position you are applying for. If not, consider leaving them out.

  • Do not include salary, references or reasons for leaving.

  • You do not have to go back more than 15 to 20 years unless the information is used in your accomplishments or objectives.

  • Use one page if possible but never more than two.

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Resume Tips

Showcase your competencies and quantifiable accomplishments

  • A resume should be no more than 2 pages – preferably 1

  • Tailor your resume to the position you are seeking

  • You have 20 to 30 seconds to create interest with the reader, so list your accomplishments and qualifications first

  • Be brief and quantify each accomplishment – preferably in bullet form

  • Your resume should be `what your employer wants to read’ – not `what you want to write’

  • Use 11 or 12 point font – Times New Roman or equivalent

  • Make certain everything in your resume supports your future focus. If there is a question about relevancy, leave it out

  • Use action verbs to create vivid, favorable impressions, such as: “improved, exceeded, streamlined, attained, saved” etc

  • Begin with a draft and continually revise it until your resume contains the essence of “who you are” and “what you can do for the company”

  • Proof read, proof read and proof read until there are no flaws

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Cover Letters

Cover Letter

  • First impressions count.

  • Your cover letter sets the tone for your entire application package.

  • Get it right and your resume will be given the attention it deserves. Submit a cover letter that’s not compelling and your chances of getting an interview could be affected.

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Cover Letters

The Art of the Cover Letter

  • Hiring managers often receive hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for a given job. To avoid having your resume sink in a sea of paper or electronic files, it’s essential to write a cover letter that stands out and makes a great first impression.

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Cover Letters

Rule #1: Keep Up Appearances

  • Your resume and cover letter must be aesthetically pleasing and consistent in appearance. This includes formatting with the same heading and fonts in each and using a high-quality printer and paper, if documents are being "snail mailed."

  • Also, keep it tasteful and save the designer stationery and stylish fonts for writing letters to friends. A professional employment package never sets a casual tone.

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Cover Letters

Rule #2: Target Your Audience

  • Always use the hiring manager’s name in the salutation.

  • If the contact’s name isn’t provided in the job posting, a bit of Internet research or a well-structured phone call can produce results.

  • In using the contact’s name, the cover letter is personalized, while also showing your interest in the company.

  • Remember, a letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or worse, "To Whom It May Concern," has the same impact as one addressed "Dear Occupant."

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Cover Letters

Rule #3: Craft a Strong Opening Statement

  • A dynamic opening paragraph is essential to capture and retain a hiring manager’s interest.

  • For a quick and effective read, it should include a reference to the position sought and a brief statement as to why you are qualified to fill the job.

  • Emphasis should be placed on what you can do for the company, while also providing quantifiable proof.

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Cover Letters

Rule #4: Showcase Your Accomplishments

  • Include a bulleted area to emphasize accomplishments pertinent to your targeted job.

  • Not only does this break up large blocks of text that can be daunting to read, but it also draws the eye toward the most important part of the cover letter — what you have to offer.

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Cover Letters

Rule #5: Create a Proactive Closing

  • Always initiate further action at the end of a cover letter.

  • A proactive closing indicates that you will call within a few days to see if a time might be scheduled to meet.

  • To wait for a hiring manager to take that first step is to risk losing the opportunity to another candidate.

  • If a job description asks that you not call, however, it’s in your best interest to respect their wishes.

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Cover Letters

Types of Cover Letters

  • Depending on the type of job posting to which you are responding, there are generally three types of cover letters: those sent to a specified person (i.e. the hiring manager), those sent in response to a "blind" advertisement (i.e. only a P.O. Box or a job-reference number is provided), and those sent to recruiters.

  • Depending on the situation, there are certain things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your letter.

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Cover Letters

Cover Letters Sent to a Specific Person

  • Use the information you have to your best advantage.

  • When you have the hiring manager's name, use it in the salutation — without exception. This personalizes the letter and shows attention to detail on your part.

  • In the opening paragraph, be sure to state the job for which you're applying, as a hiring manager may post numerous openings in a given week.

  • In the body of your cover letter, detail all of the qualifications and skills you have that relate to this new job opening.

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Cover Letters

Cover Letters Sent in Response to a "Blind" Posting

  • Newspaper ads often request that you send resumes and cover letters to a P.O. Box, with no indication of the company's name or hiring manager's identity. Similarly, job reference numbers are often the only identification provided in an online posting. When this is the case, keep the following in mind:

    • Showcase your experience and qualification as they relate to the new position.

    • Rather than using "Dear Sir or Madam," or even worse, "To Whom It May Concern" — drop the salutation altogether. Instead, write: “Re: Job Reference #” or Re: “Assistant Store Manager Position.”

    • After that reference, leave a blank line, and then begin the cover letter's first paragraph.

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Cover Letters

Cover Letters Sent to Recruiters

  • Companies hire recruiters to find the appropriate employee for a certain position. Because of this, your cover letter must be clear about your preferred industry and position, your travel or relocation preferences, and your salary considerations (if they’re negotiable, include this information).

  • The remainder of your cover letter will contain the same data as a cover letter you would send to a hiring manager or a "blind" posting — that is, you should include your skills and qualifications as they relate to your preferred industry and position. In this case, though, you will be selling yourself to a recruiter, rather than to a hiring manager.

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Professional Resume Editing

The competition for a professional position can be fierce and the candidate who lands the interview has the most impressive professional resume and professional cover letter.

You need a well-crafted document that communicates the qualities companies look for: experience, leadership ability, and character.

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Workshops & Other Services

Visit our web site for other services to aid your job search.

  • Resume development (written and oral)

  • Work behavior profile

  • Time Management and Organizational Development Tips

  • Interviewing techniques (preparation and control)

  • Networking