Once upon a time, resumes use to be so simple.
You threw together an objective statement and listed all your past jobs.
Fast forward to 2016…
Not so simple.
The art of résumé writing has evolved tremendously - even since I entered the industry 7 short years ago.
The truth of the matter is, resumes are not that simple. They are no longer chronological obituaries (as industry veteran Jay Block would call them). They are now strategic self-marketing tools that MUST evoke interest and excitement among hiring managers to the point where they are pretty much drooling.
AND you have to do it in 6 seconds or less (but hey, no pressure, right?).
“OK, Mel…so how do I make them drool over my résumé?”
Like I said, resumes are strategic self-marketing tools, so you need to understand the exact type of role you are targeting. Get specific! There is no time for ambiguity here. And no – you are not doing yourself any favors by keeping it “general” (ugh #fail).
You need to know what you want - and I mean get crystal clear on this. There needs to be absolutely no question what type of role you’re going after. Once you decide what you want, you can create the narrative within your résumé to attract said jobs instead of just listing past roles and attempting to have the reader figure it out.
Trust me. They WILL NOT take the time to figure it out. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, you only have 6 seconds to make an impact. Yeap, they literally take 6 seconds to scan your résumé and make a decision to call you. So, again – make your job target clear as day.
Now, let’s say for example, you’re a senior B2B sales executive and now you’re looking to move up into a sales leadership role, but you haven’t exactly led a team yet. In order to stand a chance, your résumé needs to reflect your leadership skills as it relates to sales.
So, you need a strategy to highlight items that demonstrate your leadership.
Perhaps you were asked to lead a task force focused on how to increase client retention…this would definitely convey the fact that you are not just a sales guy, but a creative thought leader who is able to produce new ideas and lead others to success.
Get the gist?
Now, there are multiple ways to do this and it obviously depends on your own personal experiences. But a great way to highlight your leadership qualities in this fictional scenario would be to essentially create an entire section towards the top of the résumé called “Leadership Initiatives” or something similar. Use this space to really draw out 3 main points of how you were recognized for your leadership, supported your teammates, or even helped managemen implement new processes or train others on how to be more productive.
Get creative with showcasing the type of items that are most relevant to your target role. I tell my clients all the time, “Let’s give them what they want to see – nothing more, nothing less”.
If you’re not quite sure what they want to see, read through job descriptions that you’re targeting; I mean REALLY read a lot of job descriptions for the type of positions you want. Trust me, you will start to see some common themes. Revisit your résumé and see if you are highlighting the qualifications they are bringing up in these job descriptions.
Sorry to break it to you, but employers are selfish and they care about one thing: the all might dollar ($$$).
So, you’ve got to speak their language – no, not the language of love – the language of money: something I like to call monese (mon-eez).
“Mel, what the heck are you talking about?”
Listen, employers want to clearly see that you will be able to solve their problems and help them stay in business. So, what better way to translate that than with quantifiable achievements that demonstrate your ability to save money, drive revenues, cut costs, boost productivity, lower turnover, simplify processes – you get the point.
THESE are the type of items that make employers drool. The all mighty dollar needs to be your focus, because guess what, it’s their focus.
An interesting example of how this approach has evolved is the replacement of objective statements in the resume with summary paragraphs. Back in the day, objectives were all about you, the candidate and what you wanted (to obtain an operations management position in a growing company where I can utilize my skills and experience).
Nowadays, it’s most effective to tell them in a few short sentences what you can do for them as it relates to money.
“Out-of-the-box “doer”, enhancing internal processes by leveraging a “gentle assertiveness” that inspires others to synergize toward improving efficiencies, adding revenue value and creating expansion opportunities.”
Oooh la la!
An employer may be reading this thinking, “How exciting! You’re able to enhance internal processes and mobilize the team to improve efficiencies?? YAAASS! Please come and do that for my team.”
Oh! And whenever you have the chance, throw a number in there. Make sure you quantify your achievements and measure the scope of your duties. Adding the numerical figure does a few things:
So, dig deeper into every duty and try to figure out how it equates to helping the company remain successful or grow.
On to my last point…
Listen, recruiters are inundated with résumé after résumé and trust me, after a while, they all start sounding the same. You MUST set yourself apart.
A simple way to do this is through the use of action verbs to evoke excitement for the reader.
I know how easy it is to just rewrite your job description and slap it on the résumé, but this is definitely not going to work for you. Action verbs will easily put your accomplishments front and center instead of merely listing what you were “responsible for” (UGH stricken that phrase from your résumé as well.)
Here’s what I mean: if you are an Account Manager and you write, “responsible for managing client accounts,” it comes off as if your duty was to manage your accounts and that’s exactly what you did – manage client accounts. Well, all this does is make you sound mediocre.
Surely you are NOT mediocre.
Build excitement by replacing these type of expressions with actionable phrases like, “Nurtured 35 Fortune 500 accounts,” ooooh…did you see how I also slipped a number in there?
Now, the scope of what you did is crystal clear, AND you’ve demonstrated that you were able to successfully build relationships with your clients with the use of the term “nurtured”.
You could (and should) take it a step further and add in the result of what you did (remember, monese). Perhaps you add something like:
“Nurtured 35 Fortune 500 accounts to generate $35M in annual sales through consistent follow up and weekly on-site visits.”
LOL (Can you tell I love this stuff?)
Look, the bottom line is this: sell yourself…and do it quickly.
Make it so they can’t ignore your résumé. Put your strongest selling points right in their face, draw them in with achievements and make it look good!
Wanna make sure your résumé is hitting the mark? I offer a FREE 5-minute resume checklist that will reveal exactly why your resume isn't working, so you can stop struggling in your job search and start lining up interviews today!
Melanie L. Denny is President of Resume-Evolution, a professional resume writing service that takes pride in delivering L.I.V.E TM resumes that Look Good, are Intentional, Value-based and Enticing. Our team of elite certified resume writers provide entry-level, mid-level and executive resume writing services to brilliant professionals who are ready to level-up in their career.
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