The Flabby Resume | Online CollegesWith the holidays right around the corner, folks are dreading the inevitable holiday pounds that will find their way to waistlines everywhere.

Today, however, I speak of a more subtle glutton, a so-called friend who is supposed to help you get a job but instead just lays there, unimpressive and ineffective. This flabby good-for-nothing is your resume.

How do you know if your resume isn't pulling its weight? If you've sent your resume to several employers and not one has replied, you may have a flabby resume. If your network sees your resume and stops returning your calls, flabby resume. If you ask a friend to critique your resume and it comes back drenched in red ink, flabby resume. If your grandma reads it and gets a migraine, flabby resume.

Your resume is your first introduction to a prospective employer. A sloppy, flabby resume tells them it came from a sloppy, flabby person and soon finds its way into the circular file (that's a trashcan, by the way). Before they've even seen how you dress, speak, or otherwise present yourself, your chances of getting that job have been narrowed to zero. For this reason, flabby resumes cannot be tolerated. Below are five steps to helping your resume drop unwanted pounds and become a lean, mean, job-attracting machine:

1. Control your white space. White space refers to all the space on your resume not covered with ink. Interviewers agree that the initial appearance of the resume can go a long way toward keeping employers reading. Huge chunks of white space tell an employer that you don't have enough good points to fill one piece of paper. Too little of it just overwhelms the eyes. Your goal should be to find a good middle ground where your resume is covered evenly with ink and just enough white space to make it comfortable to read.

You can employ a few simple tricks to achieve this balance. Avoid using the justify function in MS Word as it blankets the page in words. Provide double-spacing between sections to break up the information. Each line of information should extend close to the right margin.

Also, while attempting to use your white space properly, do not resort to obvious tactics, like fonts larger than 14 pt or extemporaneous words thrown in just to make a line reach the right margin. These will be obvious to recruiters.

2. Use active verbs. In short, active verbs highlight dramatic action. The following words are active verbs: "increased," "created," "supervised," and "spearheaded." They show strong action taken. They are much better than words like "got," "was," or "had." The more powerful active verbs employers can see in your resume the more likely they are to consider you.

The key to getting these verbs noticed is to place them at the beginning of each bullet point. For example, instead of writing "Had 12,000 new signed clients within a year's time," try this: "Signed 12,000 new clients within 12 months."

Imagine an employer is skimming down the page. If they are from a Western country, they skim down the left side. As they skim down the left side, they will see the word 'signed' stand out and any other active verbs you've placed there. They may not even read the rest of the sentence; but they will forever associate you with signing clients. A lot better than being associated with something so vague as 'had.' In their mind, you have established yourself as an employee of action and accomplishment.

3. Tailor your job experience. You may find yourself in the position of entering a new industry or job. You may not feel that your job experience matches what they are looking for. With some word massaging, however, you can quickly tailor your job experience to catch the eye of the employer.

Let's say, for instance, you've worked as an accountant, working with a client and handling their needs for a few years. Now, however, you want to transition into a marketing role. In truth, the two jobs have little in common. But there are some elements and experiences that do translate over. For example, your job has centered around knowing and managing your client's needs. Marketing, at its most basic level, is all about reading consumers' needs and meeting them. Can we make a connection here? Certainly. For several years you have been practicing Marketing and you didn't even know it.

How would this look in practice? The job description may read something like this: "Monitored and met needs of clients…" If you worked with any kind of forecasting, planning, training, or supervising, translate it to Marketing. With a few changes, your resume can be changed to de-emphasize your transition and highlight your translatable skills.

Of course, don't make stuff up. If you haven't done anything even remotely close to your desired job, be honest and highlight your willingness to learn, passion, good looks, whatever. These are a good start.

Your resume should be looking better already. But don't let that guy rest on his laurels. Check out Part 2 this Monday for three more steps to get your resume in tip-top shape.

About the author

Marcus Varner earned his BA in English from Brigham Young University with a Creative Writing emphasis. He is currently in his second year at BYU's lauded MBA program studying Marketing. He blogs, writes fiction and screenplays, loves movies, and can't resist playing superheroes with his kids.

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