Are you landing interviews for jobs you know you can perform? If not, it may be time to tune up your resume.

There are two points your resume must make to be successful:
1. Tell the employer what you want to do for them.
2. Prove you can do that job better than other applicants.

That’s it!

To ensure your resume is the best it can be, consider why employers ask for a resume in the first place. Business people are very busy, and need a way to reduce the list of those interested in the job to those that are the most qualified (i.e. those that get the interview).

Remember that a resume is a brief snapshot of a person’s experiences and abilities, not your life story. Develop your resume knowing that an employer will scan it for a few seconds to see if they want to read on. Your opening statement and experience summary need to be brief and to the point.

Unless you are applying for a high-level management position at a large firm, your resume should be no more than two pages. Those with limited work experience should keep it to one page.

Task #1 — Tell employers what you can do for them.
Some people leave off the objective or summary statement from their resume, hoping the employer will consider them for any job that’s open. This may work if you’re hand-delivering your resume, but isn’t a good idea if you mail it or if the person you talk with at the worksite isn’t the one screening the resumes.

Imagine your resume in a pile with 200 others, about to be read by a frantic manager trying to fill a specific position. Set out to make it easy for the employer to find your resume. List the job title of the position you are seeking in your Objective section.

Next, resist the temptation to create a single resume for all jobs. You’ll be more successful if you study the requirements for each position and revise your resume to stress the skills you have that relate to each job. Where possible, use the same language on your resume that employers use to describe their job requirements. If it’s easy for the employer to find your related experience, you’ll get more interviews.

Consider this poor example of a resume opening: “Seeking a challenging position with a hard-working team, in which I can apply my IT experience and training.” You must be more specific about what exactly you want to do in the Information Technology (IT) field. Do you want to be a Help Desk Technician? Software Developer? Systems Administrator? Be specific. Quantify your experience for more punch. And, by the way, do not use acronyms in the objective or summary statement.

Try an opening like this, instead: “Seeking position in network administration to utilize five years of experience and training in network design and technical support.

Task #2 — Prove you can do the job.
Spell out clearly and obviously why you should be hired. Focus on achievements and results from previous positions that relate to and are transferable to the new position. Begin by focusing on the skills and experiences that are most important to the employer. You can often determine the most important tasks from the job description, as it often lists the more important elements first.

Here’s an example of a poor Work Experience write-up:
Addressed staffing and budgeting issues for IT/IS department for start-up firm. This included recruiting & hiring IS/IT professionals.
You have to focus on your successes and results! Try revising as follows:
Planned and managed all staffing and budgeting for the Information Technology (IT) department. Recruited and hired 12 new IT professionals, four of whom were promoted. Achieved 100% overall retention. As a result, the start-up company earned $1.2 million in first-year revenue.” – See the difference?

While your skills and experiences will vary, the important point is to be specific and consider, “What information would I want to see if I were screening resumes for this job?” Telling employers what you want to do and proving you can do it takes effort. But, your career is worth it!