If you’re sporting the traditional two-page résumé, nicely formatted and meticulously proofread, you’re already beating half the field. The next step is to consider your messaging strategy. When putting together a marketing-style résumé, it can help to think of yourself as a product and this document as your sales brochure. In other words, what is a company really buying when they agree to pay your salary? (Hint: companies care about their bottom line.)
Consider your key transferable skills and the best examples of how you used them to positively affect profitability, productivity, cost-savings, talent development, corporate mission, and so on.
Armed with this insight, confront your documents this question in mind: “What would I want a potential employer to remember after glancing at my résumé for 10 to 20 seconds?”
Now look carefully at your résumé. Is this information organized for quick, easy access within the top one-third of the page (where the eye naturally falls when we begin to read)?
Here are a few barriers between your core message and the reader you’re hoping to woo:
—Strict chronology. Some of your achievements probably came from positions you held a few years back, while some of your responsibilities in your most recent role are likely ho-hum. Consider adding a highlights section up front where you can feature your “greatest hits” precisely where the reader will notice them.
—Blocks of text. If your paragraphs and bullet points are running longer than two or three lines, you are burying your message and barring “skimmability.” Keep it short, and plan on filling in the detail during an interview. Beware—a long objective or introductory statement is like a huge wall between you and your reader, so boil it down to its essence.
—Buzzword overkill. We all want our résumés to be retrieved by keyword in electronic systems, but including every industry term will make your résumé incomprehensible to the human reader on whose desk it will ultimately land. Focus your résumé on the skills that are most unique and central to your job function.
The Final Polish
If you have a marketing-style résumé that grabs attention at the top of the page, give it a final read… listening with the ear of a haiku poet.
Your goal will be to cut every word that less-than-essential. This is the career equivalent a politician’s carefully crafted soundbites.
Pay special attention to the verbs—the source of action in the document. If you said “directed and managed,” the second verb doesn’t add clarity, so take it out. “Successfully led the implementation of…” has more punch if you just say “Implemented.”
If your verbs are surrounded by armies of adverbs (those pesky –ly words), you’ll want to remove most of them. Also, kill the jargon and eliminate any overblown descriptions.
For the best results, you’ll want to seek out a professional writer, but even a friend can help you trim excess verbiage to arrive at a clear, concise, and powerful statement of who you are.
Next up…targeting strategy. Now that you’ve got stellar documents, how do you get them in the hands of the right people?
Career Services International – www.careersi.com
Education Career Services – www.educationcs.com