How To Restructure Your Resume To Get The Job You Want

Job Seekers Readiness Guide

Your Résumé
Restructuring your résumé can get you the job you want with the skills and experience you already have.


Out of Work: Anthony Owens, a 44-year-old father of two, was laid off from a local government job as the Treasury Director for the Texas Water Development Board in 2008.

New Position: Executive director of procurement at Austin Community College, where he oversees all the colleges’ contractual obligations including contract negotiations and purchasing activities, assuring adherence to all state purchasing rules and regulations. In addition, he manages warehouse operations including central receiving and shipping, campus mail services, and fixed asset management.

His  Challenge: With a background in finance and accounting, Owens pigeonholed himself to jobs in just those areas, but at the time, “those jobs simply were not there,” Owens recalls. His résumé presented a challenge because it showcased limited abilities. “The revamping of my résumé was out of necessity in order to compete.”

His Strategy: Owens chose career coach Catherine Jewell, author of New Résumé New Career, (Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; $16.95) to restructure his résumé. “That was the first time I had ever gone through any kind of layoff,” says Owens. “Having Catherine as a sounding board really helped.”

The Result: After a line-by-line revamping of his résumé with Jewell, Owens realized he had a wide breadth of experience from past jobs that included a few years as a business development manager at a local private college, where he honed his administrative and managerial skills. “Catherine was able to play up on experiences so there was less emphasis on the finance and more on the administrative side of things.”

Three months later, a friend called about a temporary position in the contracts division at the local community college. During his six-month stint, Owens developed a relationship with the executive vice president and learned of the executive director opening. When asked for his résumé, Owens felt comfortable that it communicated his qualifications for the job.

What You Need to Know
At a time when many job seekers are asking if résumés are still relevant, Jewell asserts that résumés are still the calling card for any job seeker. “The way to maximize your résumé is to see it as a marketing document,” says Jewell. “Remember the résumé’s purpose: to get an interview. A great résumé gets an interview; a great interview gets a job.” Jewell advises her clients to be strategic when choosing a résumé format: chronological, functional, or combination. Chronological résumés detail work history, beginning with the most recent position. Jewell explains chronological résumés work best for those who can show steady growth with a continuity of either functional or industry success. Functional résumés focus on the professional skill sets related to the job you seek, grouping your skills in three to five broad categories and highlight what you can do rather than former job duties. This format is often used when a job seeker has large gaps in their work history. The combination résumé blends both styles, allowing you to list important skills along with your achievements in each area.

Jewell advises to always begin your résumé with ” a billboard,” a quick sales message. Also, tailor your résumé to a specific job. Jewell says the most common mistake that people make on their résumés is not connecting to the job description. Another big mistake is detailing all experience. “It becomes a distraction to include too much detail about jobs that aren’t relevant,” she says.

Jewel also suggests hunting for key words to include on your résumé on sites such as Career Builder, Monster, and Indeed–the three big boards–and collect position descriptions. Highlight the terms that keep repeating: “90% of companies today screen résumés by machine. If you have the right words on your résumé, you’re a match for the job,” Jewell says. You need to rewrite your résumé so that those skills appear.”

For social media sites, Jewell says to abbreviate your résumé to just 100 to 150 words. This means giving yourself a descriptive title such as “Marketing Professional,” adding five to seven major career achievements, and a short list of key job competencies.
– Annya Lott

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