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 »


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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Rachel Dotson

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Rachel Dotson is a former digital marketing manager and blog contributor at ZipRecruiter. She is based in Venice, California.

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