How to Streamline Your Resume and Make It Stand Out

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

By Dan Scalco

Your resume is essentially your first impression to an employer. It’s your chance to show off your skills, your education, and all the experience you have that makes you the perfect fit for a job. However, many mistakenly think it’s acceptable to just list all of that essential information in a document and call it a resume. To be honest, that’s not the best move! You need to consider the structure of your resume to make sure you draw attention to what’s most important, make it easy to read, and more. To help you out, I’m sharing a few tips on how to streamline your resume…

Include your contact information first.
The whole point of your resume is to show off your awesome skills and to then get an employer to give you a call for an interview. Well, how can they call you if they’re searching your resume, struggling to find your contact information? Instead, you should make it very easy for them see. Present your name and contact information right at the top of the page.

When adding your contact information, include your first and last name, address, phone number, and your email address. If you have a website, you can include that as well if it’s relevant to your skills and the job you’re applying for. You might want to skip showing off a website that isn’t top-notch or is totally unrelated to the work you’re aspiring to do. This could do more harm than good, so only include a URL to a great website you’re proud to show off.

Write a succinct opening summary.
If you really want to grab attention with your resume, you should include an opening summary. This is the preferred option to a career objective. Use this as an opportunity show off why you are the most qualified person for the job you’re applying for. Share one or two achievements and your most recent experience in this section. Be sure that you don’t ramble on. Keep it succinct instead because you don’t have long to grab their attention and keep it.

When you consider that employers are receiving so many applicants for each open position, you want to make sure your resume stands out from the rest. And you want to keep in mind that they won’t always take the time to read the entire thing. An opening summary on your resume is the best way to showcase your top qualifications and to entice them to keep reading.

Don’t list every job you’ve ever held.
Many people make the mistake of listing every single job they’ve ever held on their resume. While it may seem like a good idea because you’re showing off your diverse experience, the reality is that employers only want to see relevant experience.

Instead, you want to streamline your resume by cutting out the outdated stuff when it comes to your work experience. There’s no need to go back any further than 15 years because that’s often overkill and it’s likely it won’t be needed. All you need to do is to focus on your most recent work experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Showcase the skills you used on the job and put the most emphasis on the skills that would also come in handy for this job you’re trying to land. This is also the opportunity to share any accomplishments you had at each job, as opposed to writing a generic job description that’s likely to be overlooked.

Photo Credit: Andrew White

Photo Credit: Andrew White

Share your educational background.
If you have a college degree, you will want to show that off on your resume, of course. Many employers like to see what kind of education you’ve received and it sometimes makes or break whether or not you get the job.

One thing to keep in mind when creating this section is that you don’t have to go into the specifics. All you need to include was the school you attended, the years you attended, and what kind of degree you received. This helps you save space and keep the resume streamlined.

What if you’re fresh out of college without any work experience? If this is the case, feel free to elaborate on your college education. Share any classes or coursework you have done that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, plus any internships or leadership positions you’ve held. This will help to bulk up your resume until you get more “in the field” work experience.

Cater your resume to the job.
It may sound tedious, but you should always cater your resume to the job you’re applying for. Each job obviously has certain qualifications they’re looking for in their candidates. If you have the skills, work experience, or education they’re looking for, you’ll want to craft your resume in a way that draws attention to that.

Keep in mind that employers likely won’t read your resume thoroughly. They’re going to skim, looking through the document for specific information. This is all the more reason to highlight what will look particularly impressive to them.

Format your resume for readability.
As mentioned above, anyone who views your resume will likely skim through the information you’ve provided, as opposed to reading it in full. That’s why it’s so important to streamline your resume and focus on what’s most important, as opposed to rambling on by listing every work experience detail.

In addition to cutting the fluff from your resume, you’ll also want to consider ways you can increase its readability. Here are some tips…

  1. Use clear headings to separate each section of your resume. You can also make them bold to draw the eye to those headlines. This makes it much easier for an employer to find what they’re look for and keeps the resume organized.
  2. Use bullet points for lists and italicizing when appropriate. It may seem simple, but these tweaks help to break up large chunks of text, which can often appear overwhelming to read.
  3. Try to keep everything the same font. This makes it easier for the readers eyes to bounce around the page. If you need to make any text a different size, make it your name and contact information.

Wrapping up.
Now that you know how to streamline your resume for maximum results, you can start making changes. With these easy adjustments, your resume is sure to stand out from the crowd and get you those coveted calls for interviews.

Think you’re a resume pro? Showcase your skills by volunteering at our offices and helping our women improve their resumes. 

Entrepreneur Ceci Johnson Shares Her Most Important Business Advice

Photo by Allan Zepeda Photography

There’s a lot that goes into running a successful company and Creative Director and Founder Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York knows just what it takes. The Southern California native has positioned herself as an expert in the design field since 2004. Her company, Ceci New York specializes in custom invitations, not just for weddings but for all kinds of special events. She launched CeciStyle Magazine in 2010, a resource for invitation inspiration and style tips, plus she has been recognized as “Invitation Innovator” by WeTV and named Tory Burch’s “Woman to Watch.” Her client roster ranges from entertainment, corporate companies and A-List celebrities.

Ceci Johnson is a risk-taker, trendsetter and philanthropist. Johnson also uses her passion for design to give back to charities that are close to her heart, like Dress for Success. Our 20th Anniversary “Celebrate the Journey Gala” save the date and invitation are all thanks to her and her commitment to helping others through her creativity. Johnson is a mother, designer, entrepreneur, and a mentor all while running a luxury design empire and donating her time to worthy causes. We tapped Johnson for her business savvy tips and how she’s kept her company on the path to success.

Q: Were there some risks that you had to take when you first started Ceci New York? What are some risks that you feel every entrepreneur might have to take when launching their business?

Ceci Johnson: In order to launch your own business, I feel you have to always take a risk. You have to muster up the confidence to go for it and not look back. Sometimes, that’s really hard and truthfully, really intimidating – especially when you’re on your own. But it also could be incredibly rewarding at the same time. When I started, it was about passion and a relentless drive to create something special for my clients (truthfully, that’s what still drives me today). I studied the event industry and realized there was a niche I could fill with my couture invitation design, so I risked everything, and focused on this full time. However, before I did, I had been designing on the side and people kept telling me I should really think about doing this as a business because there was no one doing what I can do. After hearing this so often, it gave me the confidence I needed to take the risk and start my business.  

I think you have to always try otherwise you will die wondering. “Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.”

Photo by Allan Zepeda Photography

Q: What quality do you believe that those in leadership roles should possess in order to run a successful and thriving business?

CJ: Being a good leader is about confidence and decisiveness. If you’re lacking in those departments, you better brush up on those skills if you want to be a strong leader. Lead by doing and always lead by example. Be the kind of entrepreneur that inspires your own self. Someone you are actually proud of and respect and others will too. I am right there in the trenches with my team helping out, supporting and collaborating every step of the way. It’s not about micromanaging, it’s about empowering and working together like a well-oiled machine. I think it’s also about honesty, listening to your team and being fair. Treating others with respect and common courtesy goes a long way in life and in business.  

Q: What would you say is the driving factor behind the success of Ceci New York?

CJ: Well, despite the fact that I live and breathe my business and will always be pushing it forward trying to achieve my dreams for the company and my team, Ceci New York is made up of extremely strong, talented and smart people. Without them, we would not be able to be the company we are today. Each client is special and treated like they’re our only one because we truly want and know how important each experience is. Reputation is everything for a small business. In our business, and in many others out there, you’re only as good as your last client says you are so you better make sure they’re singing your praises!

Q: How do you create a business that attracts and retains talented and motivated employees?

CJ: I believe in work hard, play hard. While we hustle every day, I also believe in stopping to celebrate the little things in the office too, like birthdays, baby showers or company milestones met. Ceci New York is a team of A-Team players that if the company wins, we all win. We’ve cultivated a unique environment of top talent, the best of the best, that not only gets to make our clients dreams come true every day but we actually enjoy working together and coming to work each day. That’s special and rare. I’m very proud of that. This is more than just a job for Team Ceci.

I think as a business owner and even a senior manager, while it may seem really hard, you must take time to take care of your people. Set up consistent reviews and career objectives for your employees. Help them to understand the vision you have for the company and how their role really helps to make a difference each day. Make sure you have an open communication policy that you always make time for them no matter how busy you are. I will always drop everything to listen to my employee. Team happiness is a top priority for me.

Q: What are the values that are instilled in Ceci New York that you believe are imperative to its brand?

CJ: Aside from what I mentioned above, our logo is made up of 4 C’s that interlock and represent our core values. Ceci New York offers more than groundbreaking designs, we provide an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. An exceptional passion for creativity, color, customer service, and care has resulted in our own exclusive version of The 4 C’s. These standards have defined the unmatched level of service we strive to provide for each client, every day.

The 4 C’s of Ceci New York:

  • Creativity – We are pioneers of Innovation – we always look forward.
  • Customer Service – We cater specifically to your unique requirements and wishes.
  • Color – Be Bold! We aren’t afraid to make a statement with color.
  • Care – Our passion is what drives our perfection.

To learn more about Ceci Johnson and her design work, follow her on Instagram @cecinewyork) or visit www.cecinewyork.com. Take a look at 20th Anniversary save the date and invitation by clicking here

Behind The Seams With Kleinfeld’s Mara Urshel

Mara Picture

Mara Urshel is assuredly a highly respected executive, having co-founded and managed Kleinfeld Bridal, New York’s iconic and the largest bridal boutique in the country for 17 years. Urshel began her journey with Kleinfeld as a business consultant from Gordon Brothers. Six months in, she brought in a proposal that required a crucial amount of spending to be made, but the management at the time decided to put the company up for sale instead. Urshel saw this as an exciting opportunity to take a chance and to revive Kleinfeld, shaping it into a massive bridal retailer that would eventually make the dreams of thousands of brides-to-be come true. She brought up the idea of buying the company to Ronnie Rothstein, her business partner and together, they’ve established Kleinfeld into a renowned bridal retailer, where brides-to-be travel from all over the world to receive the ultimate wedding experience.

Kleinfeld carries the largest selection of bridal gowns from top American and European bridal designers. They receive new styles nearly every day and Urshel says that they are constantly searching the world to seek out designers to add to the merchandising mix. They are staffed with close to 200 dedicated professionals which includes on-site stylists and bridal consultants, and custom fitters, sewers, beaders, embroiderers and pressers. The bridal store also has its own reality show on TLC­­, Say Yes to the Dress, a series that allows viewers to witness the private experience of the bride’s search for the right dress.

With around 10,000 gowns sold a year, Kleinfeld is unquestionably a leader in the bridal industry under the leadership of Urshel and Rothstein who call the store and its employees, their family. Urshel recently sat down with Dress for Success to discuss how she revived Kleinfeld to become a leader in the bridal industry, the growth she experienced as a senior executive at Saks Fifth Avenue and the importance of the customer experience when a bride-to-be shops for that perfect wedding dress.

Dress for Success: You were the Senior VP at Saks Fifth Avenue for 19 years prior to Kleinfeld. Did you find yourself having to fight for this role at first? Were there difficulties to overcome in this position? How did that experience influence your role when you took ownership of Kleinfeld?

Mara Urshel: My 19 years at Saks were exciting and gave me great pride in the initiatives I started and left behind. I was extremely dedicated and driven to success never realizing any obstacles. Promotions for Assistant to the VP of Couture to Senior VP of 55% of the stores volume came as anticipated. In my sportswear divisions I developed a strong classified business that led me to one day desire a “niche” business in a classification. Then one day I received an offer to be a business consultant for Kleinfeld in a turn-around situation. And voilà there was my classification waiting for me. I am as excited about Kleinfeld’s development and growth as I was in all my years at Saks.

DFS: What strategies have you implemented over the years in order to establish Kleinfeld as the leading brand for wedding fashion? How have the designers you carry and invested in influenced your growth as a major retailer?

MU: Strategic merchandising and unparalleled customer service are the most important strategies at Kleinfeld. It is important that we stay ahead of the market and competitive by offering the largest selection of designer bridal gowns in the U.S. The designers we carry directly influence our growth. We travel the world to seek out exclusive designers you can only find at Kleinfeld in NYC. This, plus our customer service, positions us as the leader in bridal retail.

DFS: Kleinfeld is known as the largest bridal retailer, catering to more than 17,000 brides a year. You’ve said that a reason for the success is the customer service, that you give clients your cell phone number to ensure that they can reach you at any time. What other ways do you continue to establish a service that is satisfactory for your clients?

MU: Every day we discuss new ideas and suggestions to improve the Kleinfeld experience. We are dedicated to making every bride happy and to stay on the pulse of bridal and listen to our customers. We are currently building a new website which will be optimized for mobile – since 60% of our web traffic is mobile. We are also working on creating more content to position ourselves as the leader in weddings – not just bridal fashion.

kleinfeld

DFS: When a client walks into the store, walking out with a wedding dress is the obvious goal. You’ve said that it’s the wedding dress that can bring tears to the client’s eyes and a fluster to her face. How do you and your sales team help identify the right dress for the customer?

MU: Sales consultants must be great listeners and know their product! The conversation our bridal consultants have with the bride is very important. The consultant must listen to the brides’ requests and how she envisions herself on the wedding day. Taking her requests, wedding location and budget into consideration, the bridal consultant must find the right dress to say ‘yes’ to.

DFS: When your clients leave with the wedding dress, what do you hope they take from their experience working with your staff?

MU: We hope the bride remembers us as the first and last (and favorite) stop of her wedding preparation. After a bride purchases a dress at Kleinfeld, she has at least 3 more visits to the store to alter her wedding dress. Along the journey she meets with a team of  Kleinfeld employees to bring her vision to reality – from her bridal dress selection appointment to her accessory selection, her fittings and her press and pick-up appointment – all 200+ employees are involved in making the process memorable.

DFS: How has the success of Say Yes to the Dress impacted the brand and your business? Are you grateful for the continued success of the show? In your opinion, what has made the show so successful?

MU: As we enter into the 16th season of SYTTD, we believe that the success of the show is not only because of the talented production company and network, but because of the brides and the dresses they select. The dress is the ‘star’ of the show. We are thankful that the show has turned a national brand into an international brand promoted in over 200 countries around the world.

DFS: Your business is continuously expanding into product offerings outside wedding fashion. What are the areas you have expanded in that you are most proud of? What more do you envision in terms of expansion? What’s next for Kleinfeld?

MU: Kleinfeld continues to expand our exclusive and private label dress brands. As well as support Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay located in Toronto, Canada. We also have expanded into stationary. Kleinfeld Paper offers wedding invitations, save the dates, thank you cards and day-of stationary such as escort cards and menus. Kleinfeld has also added a hotel room block booking service – Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks. They find and negotiate the best rates for your out of town wedding guests. As well as, Kleinfeld Name Change, Hitch Switch, a unique free service to easily change your name, driver’s license, credit cards, etc.

DFS: What does it mean for you to take part in the experience of finding the dress for a woman in such a monumental stage in her life? And is there a particular client’s experience in the store that is most memorable and why?

MU: We are honored to be a part of the most important day in a brides’ life. We meet with over 17,000 brides annually and we love receiving wedding photos from every one of them!