It's graduation season, (Congrats grads!) which is very exciting time but it can also be stressful with a number of applicants flooding the job market. 

The good news is job hiring is up this year!

In fact, employers plan to hire 10.7% more Class of 2019 graduates than they did from the Class of 2018, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

So, how do you stand out from the pack and get your resume and cover letter to the top of the stack?

It's all in your writing skills!

Washington, D.C.-based writing expert Carla D. Bass, Colonel, Air Force (Ret), is the author of the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning book Write To Influence!

Carla has advice for new graduates and job seekers on how to hone their writing skills and gain that critical edge over the competition in today’s thriving job market.

1) Gather data on your skills and accomplishments; highlight your impact 

Convey the “so what.” For example, how did your contributions enhance success of a previous employer? What was your value added?

You capture the accomplishments as they occur and it’s not just the accomplishment it’s the impact. For example: One resume bullet may say ‘Developed and proposed a new marketing campaign.’ That’s great, but where the impact?  The impact would be the boss implemented it and the sales jumped 30% in the next month. That’s the full story Action-Impact.

2) Verbs are your friends -- Rely on them! 

Verbs add voice to your resume

In explaining your accomplishments, you want to avoid words such as “Responsible for” … “Supported” … “Contributed to” … “Assisted.”

Why are these bad? Because they actually detract from the message your trying to convery. They force the perspective employer to think “How did you do those? What did you do?” That's not what you want the reader to be thinking when they have your resume in front of them.

Instead go for crisp impactful verbs like "Developed" ... "Created"... "Led" ... "Managed" ... "Organized." Those types of verbs go straight to the heart of the story you are trying to tell.

3) Frame the story

Infuse the resume with details to set the context. Detail transforms a bland item into one that pops! Details also provide a mental yardstick that help employers understand the scope and significance of your accomplishment.

Example: Named Employee of the Month

Better: Named Employee of the Month in a 300-person organization -- 3rd time this year.

Example: Mary processed many job applications.

Better: Mary processed 54 job applications this month alone, twice the office average, and three times that of her peers.

4) Play the match game

There are three steps to this.

  1. Know the employer. Do the research on the employer. Know the mission, know the products, know the customers. Read the job announcement carefully and note the key words.
  2. Do an inventory on yourself. What are your skills, your experience, your background. What do you bring to the table.
  3. Do the Match Game. Try to make as many correlations as possible between what the employer needs and what you can offer.

To learn more about Carla's tips for a standout resume, check out her interview here on Great Day Washington.

 The first edition of of Carla's book Write to Influence and her workshops these past two years have been tremendously successful. That prompted the second edition. New material includes several new chapters and more:

  • “Solid Framework: Critical for a Home … and Writing”
  • “Know Your Audience: Psychology of the Catch”
  • “The College Application: Essays That Open Doors”
  • “Grant Submissions: Robust and Compelling”
  • “Elevator Speech: Essential Tool to Influence”  
  •  “The Dirty Dozen: Most Common Errors in Professional Writing”

These strategies and tools in “Write to Influence!” apply to much more than just resumes. The ability to precisely convey a message … with impact … is precisely what employers seek. Learning to “Write to Influence!” is a skill that can open unimaginable doors to opportunity … for a lifetime.  

For more information on Carla D. Bass visit her website www.WritetoInfluence.net

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