Build Your Resume to Guarantee an Interview

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You have approximately twenty-two seconds for your resume to grab the reader and guarantee you an interview. Your resume is a summary of your career highlights and history, but also needs to be your marketing material. To make sure your resume hits the mark, here are some basic tips to follow:

Get Straight to the Point

Do not put anything in your resume that could knock you out as a candidate. Leave off the “objective” because they tend to be too specific. Employers read resumes until they read something that doesn’t fit with the job posted, then it goes to the reject pile. Begin your resume with a summary of your qualifications. Give a brief overview of your skills in a few short sentences, such as:

Manager with strong background in human resources, training, strategic planning, budget, benefits and compensation, process improvement, organizational development, and all operations.

The next item to list on your resume should be your professional highlights. What have you accomplished over your career? All of your professional highlights must be quantifiable. The sort of items you list here (in bullet form) include:

  • Increased sales by 38%
  • Achieved “Employee of the Year” Award two years in a row
  • Lowered scrap parts by 52%
  • Developed program to shorten lead time by two weeks

Now you can list your work history. Show your work history chronologically with the most recent job first. Give the dates you worked for the company, the name of the company with their address, and your title.

2007 to Present ABC Company, Manager of Operations
2200 DEF Lane, City, State
1004 to 2007 Widget.Com, Web Developer
123 Internet Dr., City, State


Your education comes next on this target resume. You should list the name of the schools you attended and the degree you received. If you didn’t complete a degree, list the dates attended and the major emphasis of study. You can list your education first on your resume if you believe it is very important to the job for which you are applying. If it is not that important, or you think it could hurt your chances, list it in this section so the reader has time to get to know your other qualifications before reading your education.

Finally, list any professional organizations you belong to and your status in each. Also list if you are an officer. And last, but not least…list your keywords. Many companies today use applicant-tracking systems. When they enter your data into the system they usually have to enter keywords under which to look you up. It is much better for you to list your keywords, than to depend on a personnel clerk to figure them out.

To Lie or not to Lie?

Is it ever okay to lie on your resume? Absolutely not! If you are not completely honest on your resume, the chance the employer will find out is very great. If you are honest and straight, forward on your resume, it will impress the employer. If it doesn’t, then you should just move on to the next opportunity.

What About Printed Resumes?

Here are a few general guidelines for printed resumes:

  • Keep your resume to one page if possible, and don’t go over two pages. Remember, you get only twenty-two seconds read time on the resume itself. You can always take additional information to the interview.
  • Use plain white resume paper. The employer will be making copies of your resume and white reproduces nicely.
  • Avoid linen and recycled papers because they do not provide good copies.
  • Make sure you have a one-inch border all the way around your resume. This will be very appealing to the reader’s eye.

Once you get your resume completed, don’t keep it to yourself. Always carry copies of your resume with you. Hand them out strategically at professional meetings, to friends and relatives, and to others who could assist you in your job-hunt. Targeted resumes are invaluable in any job market. Build yours and see how the interviews start pouring in.

Cheri Swales is the author of ‘Revolutionize Yourself’ and ‘The High Performance Success System’.  A contributor to various industry publications, Cheri was a regular writer on

This article was written in 2002 for the launch of by Cheri L Swales. Cheri is the mother of Chris Kidd (owner of

Cheri passed away in 2010 but her impact on is still felt today.

Chris Kidd is the owner of,,, and

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