Extreme Makeover

By Laura Egodigwe
Catherine Mackel, an information technology expert, is employed, but her current resumé hasn’t landed her any interviews. “My resumé isn’t working well for me at all,” says Mackel, 35. “[It’s] posted on at least five different resumé sites. Since January, I’ve had two calls.”

Though the job market is improving, the hunt for employment is more competitive than ever. According to Jeevan DeVore, vice president of operations for CareerPerfect.com, a global resumé and career services firm based in Bellingham, Washington, a resumé must accomplish three tasks: “It gets you in the door, it supports you during the interview, and it supports you in your absence when an employer is making the hiring decision.” It’s your “personal marketing document,” she elaborates.

Mackel prepared her resumé on her own. She’s an IT consultant with a Fairfax, Virginia, technology firm that helps the government use the Internet and other advanced technologies to improve productivity and information sharing. “As I objectively look at my current resumé, I realize that my bulleted lists do not speak to the vast knowledge that I’ve gained in the past 12 years.”

1 Many says that a resumé should be kept to one page, but forget the “one-page myth,” says Jeevan DeVore, vice president of operations for CareerPerfect.com. A resumé should have a brief yet compelling summary to catch an employer’s interest within the first 10 seconds, then have enough depth and detail to hold his or her interest. DeVore advises putting information where it is most relevant. People with a broad range of experience might want to consider having more than one resumé so that each resumé can target a specific industry or job, Buffkins says.

2 Resumé writers advise adding a summary or highlights section to quickly capture an employer’s attention with easily digestible information selling your skills, abilities, and experience. A summary also gives your resumé focus, and if you’re in a highly technical field, like Mackel, it can provide an area where specialized jargon will make sense. If you’re responding to a specific job listing, make sure your summary targets that position by including skills, training, and accomplishments that are related to that listing.

3 Hiring managers are less interested in titles and more concerned with job performance. How have you positively affected your company’s bottom line? When describing your employment history, don’t simply list your job description. Describe how you overcame challenges to complete a project or assignment. Quantifying your achievements in terms of percentages, dollar amounts, or timeframes “will give your accomplishments more authority,” says DeVore.

4 You can’t proofread your resumé too many times. Enlist a second -or even third -set of eyes if possible. Having to review so many resumés, employers look for reasons to eliminate applicants. “Once [employers] see that first misspelled word, that resumé is gone,” says Meldron Young, human resources practice consultant at the American Management Association in New York City. Even small mistakes lead employers to believe that a candidate isn’t conscientious, he says.

5 Employment-related Websites like Monster.com,