As the owner of an executive resume writing company, I am extremely proud to have four writers on my team, including myself, who have won coveted TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) awards for their Executive Resume, Finance Resume, International Resume, Sales Resume, and New Graduate Resume entries.

On February 9th, Laura DeCarlo, President of Career Directors International, author of Resumes for Dummies, and my personal resume writing and business mentor, presented a teleseminar on how to win these competitive awards. While her presentation was targeted toward resume writers and executive resume writers who wish to compete for TORI awards, some of the points she raised apply to any executive or job seeker creating a career-winning resume.

Here are some of the points to keep in mind if you want to write a resume or executive resume that rivals the TORI winners from this past year:

1. Create a compelling format.

First of all, know your industry and adjust accordingly. For instance, you can take more creative license as a marketing or sales executive than you can as an insurance or finance executive. Once you determine your industry’s comfort level with design, as well as your own, create something that “pops” while not going overboard.

You don’t need fancy graphics programs to design a great looking resume. You might be surprised by how much you can do with Word!

For instance, use edge-to-edge design, different backgrounds (with discretion), color saturation variations, etc. Include a little smart art if appropriate – it’s all in Word – or create a chart in Excel and paste that into your resume. Include plenty of white space, as text-dense resumes are not well-received. Print it out before sending – and run it by some colleagues in your industry for their opinion.

2. Watch your language!

Use smart word choices, dynamic and varied verbs, and good sentence structure. No misspellings or run-on sentences please! Many hiring managers will dismiss a resume out of hand for a single grammatical error. And if they start getting bored because you started every bullet with the verb “led” or “managed,” you could lose them fast.

3. Deliver “power and punch.”

Keep the reader engaged. Pack your executive resume with measurable achievements – metrics and concrete/tangible results. Also, deliver a clear description of the scope of your responsibilities. Share your CAR (Challenge/Action/Result), PAR (Problem/Action/Result) or STAR (Situation/Task/Action/Result) stories that show how you have tackle challenges and what results you have created. These accomplishments will demonstrate what you’re capable of creating for your next company.

4. Convey your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Tell us what makes you stand out as opposed to anyone else applying for this position. Do this in the first few lines of your resume! Don’t be scared of selling yourself by dropping names and numbers directly into your resume summary. Make yourself shine!

5. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes.

Imagine yourself reading your resume as your future employer. What would you be looking for? Would you hire you?

As someone reading a resume, you would of course want to see some of the keywords that are essential to the position. That’s just the basics. Once that threshold is past, is this resume enjoyable to read? Do you have to squint to read it? Are you bored? Do you really get who this person is and the difference they could make for your company? Be rigorous in asking – and answering –  these questions.

6. Do your homework.

As the time to write your new resume approaches, start looking for formats and content that you like. When you come across something that impresses you, put it in a file on your computer. You can use this file whether you create your own resume or hire someone to do it. At The Essay Expert, we will always be happy to create the type of format you like. I believe any good resume writing company will do that, while steering you gently in the right direction.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, get some good books on resume writing or executive resume writing. I recommend my e-books, How to Write a WINNING Resume and How to Write a STELLAR Executive Resume, as well as Laura DeCarlo’s Resumes for Dummies.

Overall, your resume or executive resume requires high-level storytelling that knocks the reader’s socks off with both an appealing format and impressive language. I can’t tell you how many of my clients come back to me and tell me they’ve received feedback from employers that “this is the best resume [they’ve] ever seen.” That means you have done something no one has ever done before. That’s what’s required to win a TORI award, and that’s what can get you your dream job.

Want to view this year’s TORI Award-Winning masterpieces? Click here.

TORI Award Categories are as follows:

  • Best Accounting & Finance Resume
  • Best Executive Resume
  • Best Healthcare/Medical Resume
  • Best Hospitality Resume
  • Best Information Technology Resume
  • Best International Resume
  • Best New Graduate Resume
  • Best Sales Resume


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