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Image: Photos of SF State alumna Bonnie Rose Hough, professor Frank Bayliss and other images from Fall/Winter 2009 issue of SF State Magazine

Alumni & Friends

The World's Best Resume Writer

Photo of Cliff Flamer, CEO, Brightside Resumes. Photo by Dylan GlocklerCliff Flamer, CEO, Brightside Resumes.
Photo by Dylan Glockler.

For many people, the eternal question is something along the lines of, "What is the meaning of life?" Or, "Does God exist?" In Cliff Flamer's world, it's "One page or two?"

"Ah, yes, the eternal question," Flamer (M.A., '06) says during an interview from his home office in Oakland. "It's either, 'Mine is two, is it supposed to be one?' or 'Mine's one. Should it be two?'"

Job hunters may have guessed that the oft-posed question has to do with resumes, about which Flamer knows a thing or two. He's been writing them professionally for nearly a decade through his successful one-man company, BrightSide Resumes.

So adroit is Flamer at transforming dull recitations of titles and duties into job-winning showcases that the professional association Career Directors International earlier this year crowned him "World's Best Resume Writer." Flamer's resume for fictional job seeker Marilyn Boucher outpolled rival entries from 14 countries, based on voting by professional resume evaluators and visitors to social networking Web sites.

Flamer allowed himself two pages for Boucher, a seasoned pro in retail sales management. For the benefit of busy recruiters who might not read past page one, he summarized her career highlights in four bullet points at the top of the first page. "Never underestimate the power of a summary," he says. On the subject of bullet points, Flamer is evangelical.

While Boucher's job history warranted two pages, Flamer cautions that one page will usually do for recent college grads, entry-level job seekers and career transitioners. Flamer urges the latter not to dwell on the past. "If somebody reads five times that you were an event planner but you want to be a paralegal, you're making an argument away from the new job," he says.

The most common mistake Flamer sees in resumes is that the writer lists job descriptions rather than job accomplishments. "Show the impact of what you do," Flamer says. Use hard numbers wherever possible.

A tight job market like this one presents unusual challenges for resume writers. Do you leave out that stint as CEO if you're going for a middle-rung job? What about the Blockbuster job?

Honesty is the best policy, Flamer says. If you're working a low-paying job to tide you over until something better comes along, "be unapologetic about it," he counsels. "Say something like, 'accepted temp position managing video store while re-evaluating career goals.'"

While resume writing is Flamer's stock in trade, since earning a master's at SF State, he's branched out into career counseling and job-search strategies.

"I'm realizing the dream I had when I went into State's counseling program," he says. "I can take clients from start to finish in their job search ... I get to see somebody go from really unsure about themselves to being a qualified applicant. It's a joy to be part of something like that."

To read the winning resume, click on the thumbnail image on this page: http://www.brightsideresumes.com/resume-writing/management-resume-writing.php


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