How to Write a Résumé to Remember
Following nine tips often will help you paint a picture of yourself and the value you bring
By Russell Jipson, executive recruiter, and Beth Wilson, human-resources manager, Residential Finance Corp.
Not long ago, mortgage
companies struggled to fill expanding departments with skilled
sales professionals. The real estate market
was hot, and the mortgage business was
even hotter. Many people were attracted
to the industry, but they often jumped in
Today, few companies are hiring, and
even fewer have plans for growth. Many
thousands of the best mortgage professionals — and the worst — are now unemployed and wondering what to do next.
Even brokers currently employed face the
looming possibility that a layoff could hit
them when they’re least-prepared. Is it wise
to stay and try to find another job in the
mortgage industry? Or is it wiser to seek a
With so many experienced and talented
people in market, the task of standing out
from the crowd can be difficult. Complicating this is the fact that most people
have a difficult time “selling themselves”
No matter what boat you’re in, it’s imperative to make your résumé stand out
from the crowd. Many résumés reflect
prior employers, dates worked and basic
details such as education, position applied
for and contact information. But yours
should paint a picture of who you are
and the value you bring. Emphasize your
strengths, skills and accomplishments to
help employers understand how you could
bring similar value to their organization.
The following nine tips can help you
compose a résumé that best represents
you and your skills — no matter where
1. Remember the ABCs of résumé basics:
A is for aesthetics. Your résumé should be
aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eyes.
Visual appeal, a proper balance between
text and bullets, clear organization, and
professional presentation are key.
B is for being honest. Never lie or exaggerate about your skills, achievements or
C is for contact information. Use a
professional e-mail address and ensure all
contact information is valid and visible on
all pages, in case they are separated.
2. List your successes by quantifying
tangible results: List key accomplishments
by including noteworthy numbers and
statistics that illustrate your achievements.
Instead of saying: “Implemented senior-level initiatives and managed completion,”
try: “Implemented and managed senior-level initiatives that directly increased
productivity levels by 200 percent, reduced
cycle times by 425 percent and improved
quality ratings by 170 percent through
3. Be specific about your experience,
using facts and figures: Actions speak
far louder than words, especially on your
résumé. These examples speak volumes:
■ Management: “Managed 350 front-end
■ Sales: “Generated 1,200 referrals in first
year while closing an average of eight loans
per month, compared to company average
of four loans per month.”
■ Training: “Developed training programs
for software and hardware for end-users
that included training more than 7,000 sales
Russell Jipson is executive recruiter, and Beth Wilson
is human-resources manager, for Residential Finance
Corp. A former loan officer for the company, Jipson is
a graduate of Ohio State University. Wilson has more
than 20 years’ experience in recruiting, employment and
human resources. Reach Jipson at firstname.lastname@example.org
and Wilson at email@example.com.
agents; training resulted in 98-percent fewer
support requests and a 12-percent increase
in information-technology security.”
4. Put success in dollar terms that show
the net impact on the business: If you
can’t quantify in dollars, use percentages to
paint a vivid picture of your achievements.
Instead of saying, “Negotiated 30-percent
savings on vendor costs,” try, “Negotiated
30-percent savings off vendor-marketing
costs. This translated to $55,000 savings
per month, which was reinvested in revenue-generating marketing that yielded $4.4
million in incremental revenue.”
5. Make employers’ jobs easier: One example is to include a list of references on a
separate page, featuring quotes from prior
employers, co-workers, subordinates and
even vendors — with the contact information for each. This can make you appear
organized — you likely will be anticipating
the potential employers’ needs — and your
reference list can build instant credibility.
6. Never send your résumé with a generic cover letter: Personalize the letter
to demonstrate that you’ve taken the time
to research the company.
Are you a perfect fit? Highlight how
your previous position was similar, some
of the issues you faced and how you overcame them.
Your experience doesn’t fit the position? Draft a personalized cover letter
that clearly outlines how your experience
will transfer beneficially to the position for
which you’re applying. Don’t assume the
reader will figure it out otherwise.
7. Don’t provide a “laundry list”: Instead
of offering the standard list of skills, show
examples of how and when you applied
those skills in previous jobs or projects.
Include beneficial results. For example:
“Used Excel to create pivot tables to provide
executive-management team a dynamic
view of performance-results data that allowed for ‘on-the-fly’ manipulation to see
which factors affected pull-through rates.
Used this information to develop key performance indicators and measured against
those monthly to achieve 13-percent fallout
reduction in three months.”
8. State who you are: Be creative and describe yourself without using clichéd résumé
phrases. You might want to include a quote
that defines or motivates you. This shows
your working style and defines your work
philosophy. For example, broker applicants
could include a quote from a motivational
speaker whom they found compelling.
When appropriate, consider including
a short list of your favorite books and why
they are relevant. This shouldn’t be long,
but it can let employers know that you’re
an avid reader as well as motivated, career-focused and aware of the importance of
9. Follow up: Unless an organization requests otherwise, it’s often worthwhile to
follow up after submitting a résumé. But
do it with finesse.
The general rule is to place one follow-up call, one personalized follow-up note
via postal mail, and one follow-up e-mail
sent no later than a week after. Don’t call
repeatedly; you never know what’s happening on the other side of the phone and what
other issues the employer is handling.
Once your résumé makes it to the “yes”
pile, be prepared for a thorough screening.
Remember, practice makes perfect; be sure
you are well-prepared. This includes showing genuine interest in the company and
the position, verifying the name and contact information of the individual contacting you and asking about the next steps in
It might help to think of the process in
terms of a sale. The employer is the buyer,
and you are the seller and the product. Can
you make a compelling case for the value
that this product can offer the buyer and
the benefits it will provide?
Above all, ask for the sale — ask for the
Illustration: Dennis Wunsch