Dear Sam: What are some of the tips and tricks of professional résumé writers? – Sharon

Dear Sharon: When I first started to write résumés and would ask my mentor questions, she would often respond with the comment, “it’s not rocket science, it’s just common sense.” At first I was somewhat frustrated with the lack of “rules” to follow, but then I began to understand what she was really saying: résumé writing strategies have to be tailored to each candidate’s background, current objective, and key strengths. As a candidate or a beginner writer this is not really what you want to hear. Instead, you want to know the “rules.” Well, there are a lack of rules in the résumé writing business, and while some feel this is unfortunate as it makes résumé writing much more difficult, subjective, and strategic, it stems from the need to craft individualized résumés based on the specifics of each candidate and their current career interests.

So, to answer a question about the “tips and tricks” of a professional résumé writer is somewhat futile as each résumé is unique, built on an individualized strategy to serve that client and achieve his/her career goals. Having said that, the fundamental efforts of a professional résumé writer begin with a clear understanding of what the client wants to do. Only when this is understood can one build an effective strategy to present, prioritize, and relate experiences, education, and strengths to garner the attention of the target audience. Similar to a brochure for a product, each résumé should reach out to the target consumer (the hiring manager), telling them why they should “buy” the candidate. To do this well you really do have to use common sense, performing diligence in identifying your career target, understanding the core skills sought for those roles, and incorporating value propositions to “sell” your candidacy.