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The Resume Formula

The Write Stuff

There is a formula to blending art and science to create an impactful, results generating resume. The trick is incorporating targeted keywords which are relevant to your career pursuits into your document while making it easy to scan, parse, read, and comprehend for recruiters who may be filtering through dozens - or even hundreds - of resumes for a single job. How to make yours stand out? Well, we can't give away all our trade secrets, however, here are some essential tips:


Your resume should be visually distinctive - in a good way. Make it interesting without being ostentatious. Make it stand out and be eye catching and organize your information effectively. Modest use of color and interesting formatting elements are no longer verboten, but you must be careful not to render your resume ATS (Applicant Tracking System) incompatible with certain usage of boxes, columns, or other interesting but complicating features. 

Organize your thoughts and information clearly, concisely, but with impact. Highlight key accomplishments first, followed by essential functions. Recruiters and hiring managers are more interested in the impact you made rather than the mundane daily aspects of your job.

Job Descriptions

Our clients often fail to see the forest for the trees. They get stuck in the monotony of their daily functions and they ignore the big picture. That's where having an expert who can decipher the appropriate level of specificity can be advantageous. But, for your own purposes, don't assume a prospective employer will know the exact nature of your job or previous employer. Spell out things which may not be common knowledge. Also, to jump start your writing, scan the job description for your current or most recent job - if available - and use that to inspire your bullets. 

On that same note, be sure that you've highlighted how you've done what the job you're applying to requires. Do a deep-dive scan of the job description and ensure those functions are highlighted within your resume. 

Format & Flow

The most common style of resume in play today is a "Hybrid" which combines a chronological list of your experience with your relevant skills and areas of experience. 

Our resumes typically incorporate the following:

  • Professional Profile

  • Areas of Expertise

  • Professional Experience

  • Education

  • Military Experience

  • Awards/Associations

  • Note - "References" are no longer included in the main document. Nor is an "Objective." That's been replaced by the Professional Profile. 

For more insight and information, please contact us for a complimentary critique of your existing resume. 

Cover Letters

The functionality of the Cover Letter has evolved in the digital age. What was once a formal document included with your paper application, the Cover Letter is now dynamic, multi-faceted, and adaptable. It can retain its erstwhile functionality as a formalized introduction to yourself and your application, but more often now, it's utilized as the body of an e-mail or a blurb included in your resume upload. 

Format & Flow

As with the resume, the Cover Letter should have a format and flow. We recommend creating it as a formal Word Document that you can then cut, copy, paste, and customize from as needed. 

There are a variety of styles and schools of thought, but a universally safe bet is the 3 paragraph formula. The first paragraph is an introduction. It says "hey, I saw you have an opening... I would be awesome at that's why!" Though, you might want to employ a more professionalized tone - something like "Greetings, in my current career pursuits, I found your opening for a POSITION TITLE and have enthusiastically included my resume for your consideration. Based on my last XX years as SIMILAR POSITION TITLE, I am confident I would quickly be able to create meaningful impact in this capacity."

The second paragraph is a more detailed account of your professional exploits. It could also be a bullet list laden with accomplishments and relevant skills. Again, prudence dictates you borrow keywords directly from their job description to bolster your cause. 

The third paragraph is short, sweet, and direct, and asks for an interview. 

Be careful not to rehash your whole resume and keep the document to one page max. Anything more and you'll leave the recruiter or hiring manager yawning and clicking to the next application. 

For more insight and information, Contact Us and we'll be happy to discuss Cover Letter strategy with you. 

How To Write a Cover Letter

The New York Times has some ideas on how to write an impactful cover letter in this article. 

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Resume Writing - Ryan Ulm
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