Specific Advice for a Standout Resume

When it comes to your job search, a good resume isn’t good enough. Executive recruiter John Paul Engel comes to us today to share specific advice on how to craft not a good resume, but a great resume.

Write a great resume to climb the corporate ladder

What is the chief difference between a good resume and a great resume?

A good resume is well written, with no mistakes, and is formatted in a pleasing way. A great resume is all those thing but also features bullet points that give measurable accomplishments, starts out with a summary with five really attention getting bullets related to the job, and I want to see something special about the person. For example a recent candidate worked with the Navy Seals. Another won an award from the Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. A third financed his entire education working 3 jobs while going to school full time. I want to find candidates for my clients that are determined to be successful and have reached high levels of success.

How can a job seeker know if they’ve written a great resume?

An example of an exception resume

The biggest mistake job seekers make is they don’t show their resume to people they know. Show it to everyone who will take a look and give you feedback. Everyone knows someone who works in HR or is a recruiter. Everyone has a friend or relative that is an English teacher. Get as many opinions as you can. Look for great examples.

Click to see John Paul Engel’s resume »

You deal a lot with executive-level recruitment. Are the strategies or expectations different for resumes at the executive level verses at the entry level?

I’m looking for people with clear career progression and success in their roles. They should have grown in their career with clear progression. I expect executives to be able to give me P&L related information related to their tasks. How many millions did they save? What was the growth in customer satisfaction or revenue under their watch? How many people have they managed? What is the size of the budgets they’ve managed?

What is your top tip for job seekers who have received few or no bites on their resume?

People hire people, not bits of paper or bytes. Make a list of the 5 employers you want to work for and then use LinkedIn to find the hiring managers. Offer to do an hour of volunteer work at their favorite charity for every minute of their time they give up you to 10 minutes. Offer to take them to lunch. Get involved with industry association by volunteering for any task until you can do the one most related to your career. The answer is always “No” if you don’t ask. If you ask enough people someone will accept your invitation. I followed this advice 20 years ago and it landed me a job on the research staff of the Federal Reserve Board preparing briefing materials for then Chairman Greenspan.

Is there anything else you would like to say about this topic?

Don’t approach networking as what you can get but what you can give. One of my mentors was one of the four founders of Accenture. He taught me the more you help other people the better your life and your business becomes. Focus on how you can be of service to others. The more you are of service the more opportunities open up for you. People like to help people who help them. Always be willing to give time in the service of others.

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Related: How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job »


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About the Author

John Paul Engel is an executive recruiter to high growth companies in the cable and payment industries. His advice has appeared in CNNMoney, US News, INC Entrepreneur, AOL Jobs, MSNBC, and over 150 leading publications. He is highly sought after speaker on career and business topics. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with an International distinction.

Visit John Paul at www.knowledgecapitalconsulting.com and www.projectbethechange.com.


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  • Ignacio Gomez-Vazquez

    I find it hard to get hired after age 50 younger isnot always better. Older workers have better work ethics They tend to show up regularly and on time HR needs to look at a workers work habits not their age.

  • http://www.marcellahotspot.com Marcella

    Great tips:)

  • Rhonda Anderson

    I can’t get my resume to upload. I’m using my iPad for this

    • Rachel Dotson

      Hi Rhonda — I’m sorry for that you’re having troubles getting your resume to upload. Do you mind contacting our support team with more details (like the error message you’re seeing)? They should be able to assist you. You can reach them at support@ziprecruiter.com or at (877) 252-1062. Thanks and sorry again!

  • Susan Ward

    Why cant I upload my Resume on LinkedIn ?

    • Rachel Dotson

      Hi Susan — Are you trying to import your resume from LinkedIn? There could be a couple of things going wrong. The best thing to do is contact our customer support with more information. They’re great at fixing these issues. You can reach them at support@ziprecruiter.com or at (877) 252-1062. I’m sorry for the inconvenience and hope we can resolve it soon. Thanks for your patience!

  • Tony Schwab

    Please help me with the bullets on my resume. Some of them are out of order and I don’t know how to align them in word Thank-you.

  • Salvador pichardo

    I m was bartender in geisha house Hollywood for 4 years we used micros sistem I work so hard and happy every day
    I work before in colony night club this club is part of the group sbe I was a barback there my bar manager was Timm ferrero
    I work in Loteria grill restaurant bar there a was busser and runner my bosa and owner was Jimmy Shawn.
    So the good thing I know most all positions in night club and restaurant I think this is good because in busy days I can help to everybody if someone need help! !

  • abderrahim zouhair

    i would like someone to help writing great resume that will get me interviews ASAP
    Thank you

  • Bruce Shipper

    How do I delete page two of my resume – completely…(?)

    • Rachel Dotson

      Hi Bruce,

      Do you mean in your jobs.ziprecruiter.com account? If so, then you’ll have to go into your account, delete your resume, and upload a new one without the second page.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if it’s unclear :)

      -Rachel

      • jatana wylie

        I need to edit my cover letter anyone know how to accomplish this after it has been completed?

        • http://blog.ziprecruiter.com Scott Garner

          Hi Jatana – You can update your cover letter by logging in and visiting your jobs page, and uploading a new version there. Good luck!

      • Amy Philbert

        Jobs.ziprecrutter.com has added a blank second page to my resume. How do I delete it?

        • http://blog.ziprecruiter.com Scott Garner

          Hi Amy – You can update your resume by visiting your profile and uploading a new version there. Good luck!

    • Keith George Hetrick

      Isit possible to speak to someone> I have beginning Parkinson;s, have business experience, trainer, marketer, co-founder of Mlocal chapter of Meeting Pofessionals International This job of Executive Director for the Parkinson;s Association was meant for me, Can and will you help me?
      Keith George Hetrick 480-532-2201

  • Catina Blue

    I need new keywords to make my resume great. I use words like prepare, process and assist. I need a new technique. I think my resume can get better. Also, the summary needs to be stronger.

    • Jennifer Rainbolt

      Im looking for a job that is hands on and i have degree in culinary arts and business office technology

  • James Russell

    I would like to know if there is a resume online that I can download and fill out. TY

  • paul

    is any one else having a problem uploading their resume……
    everytime i try to upload my resume it blanks out the field HELP

    • http://www.ziprecruiter.com/ Scott Garner

      Hi Paul-

      Our Customer Service team would love to help you with that! You can reach them here 7 days a week: (877) 252-1062