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Power up your Resume
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

The person who evaluates your resume spends an average of 45 seconds to decide your fate. How do you get yours noticed?

Resumes are designed to market and sell YOU, and to snatch the attention that lands you an interview. What gets your resume read?

Customize every resume, and begin with the question: "What's in it for me?" "Me" is the prospective employer, not you!

Make it clear why they need you:

  • Match key words to the job posting or position you desire
  • Describe what the company will gain from your skills & experience
  • Identify your core competencies as they relate to the job
  • Make it clear what you will contribute that will compel them to hire you
What to include, and what to leave out

Create an image with words that fit the position and salary you're seeking. Review key words used in desirable job descriptions to help you create power words and strong skill descriptions.

From top to bottom in no more than two pages:

  • Contact: Name, phone, email, and address. FoxyRoxy might not be a good email choice. Make sure your phone is answered professionally.
  • Career or Job Goal: Be specific. If you are open to relocation, say so or list a specific geographic area.
  • Profile: Short paragraph summary of overall experience and skills, as they apply to the company and job. Bullets work best.
  • Job Experience: Match titles and skill headings to the jobs you want and to the market. Highlight your most important work experience and skills as they relate to the job you seek. Quantify and qualify accomplishments and successes. List the most recent 10-15 years. Explain gaps and leave out negatives.
  • Education: Show only higher education. Omit graduation date, high school, age inferences, class lists, or grades.
  • Certifications, Professional Affiliations or Awards: Use only when it substantiates or highlights leadership skills or experience. Don't list a certification as pending-either you have it or you don't.

Formatting Tips

  • Shorter is better.
  • Organized and easily read
  • Print and review, run spell and grammar check, and remove special formatting before it's submitted.
  • List months and years, not just the years, for job experience.


  • Prepare references ahead of time, but do not mention them otherwise.
  • Get permission from each, along with best phone and email contacts.
  • Let them know when an employer may be contacting them and what skills to emphasize.

Cover Letter

It's as important as the resume. It's shorter but more powerful, and almost always gets read-which is exactly what you want. Include it for any resume you submit.


  • Personal addressing
  • Specific to the company and position
  • Why you want to work for the company
  • Why you are the best person for the position
  • Substantiate this in 2-3 bullets

Best ways to get the word out

  • Network, network, network. Let people know you're looking and for what.
  • Send your resume to friends, family, colleagues. Bring it with you everywhere.
  • Post your profile on business networking sites like LinkedIn.
  • Search job boards like Monster, Dice, or, which also allow you to post a resume.
  • Visit industry trade groups in person and online for posted job openings
  • Apply online to organizations at their web sites-most post their positions
  • When applying, submit your resume in multiple formats: Web, email, fax and snail mail. Only send email attachments when invited.
  • Posting video resumes is new. Choosing this medium can work, depending on the field, position and how well you "show" online.
  • Business cards are required. Print them yourself if necessary-with name, phone, email and a web site if you have one, or a tagline or title. 80% OFF Premium Business Cards & FREE Return Address Labels


    If your resume isn't landing calls or interviews, it's make-over time. Bulk up the muscles with "What's in it for me?" Customize every one. Sell yourself!


    "Frequently Asked Resume Questions, "43 Power Resume Tips", "Power Verbs, or any career question, send your request now to

    Coming Next: Is your voice holding you back? We interview an expert on how you can power up your voice, to increase your career success.

    Debbie shares 20 years of Fortune 500 management experience across the US, Europe and Asia. She consults, speaks and writes on security, technology and career growth strategies.

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    Meet Debbie Christofferson

    Debbie Christofferson

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