How To Sell Yourself: Resume Writing Tips

When you learned how to write a resume, perhaps you were taught to list every position ever held (with precise dates), and chronicle minutiae like being the treasurer of the church choir (six years ago).

The result of this is a document two pages long (at least), resembling the supervillain’s dossier from a James Bond movie.

That is not how to write a resume.

A resume is a sales pitch—you are selling your ability to function as an employee. Car salesmen don’t boggle you down with engine statistics right off the bat; they know that showing off the vehicle as a whole gets the buyer interested.

So, your resume must present the “whole” of you:

Emphasize skills. No one cares what your job title was (or where) if you give no indication of your abilities. Transferable skills are like a common currency, especially if you’re trying to break into a new field. And once you tell what you did…

How did you do it? Say you were the “executive sales manager”. Did you actually make sales? Did profit improve while you were employed? Did you get good ratings? No one knows if you don’t tell them.

Research the position. Nothing is sillier than applying for a job you know nothing about. Yet HR personnel receive hundreds of resumes that aren’t even remotely geared for their position. Know what you’re applying for, and emphasize your resume accordingly.

Make it easy to read. White space is a good thing. While a one-page resume is preferable, don’t try to cram everything in. Arrange the information on the page for comfortable scanning. Finally…

Don’t lie. Obvious, right? I’ve heard of excited employers interviewing prospects and discovering midway that their resume was as fictional as The Wizard of Oz. Nothing says “unprofessional” like invalidated claims—they show that you’re not just unqualified, but also a liar.

Resumes have it tough: large HR departments subject them to computerized scans for before they ever meet human eyes. To float above the food, you must focus on the big picture: What does the employer want? How do I prove that I can fulfill that?

It’s that complex and that simple.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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