Reviewing more than 125 resumés for MENG members during the past four years, I discovered that many could be improved easily.
These eleven improvements are taken from my recent MENG webinar, “How to Improve Your Resumé in Sixty Minutes,” which is available to members at mengonline.com where you also can find my previous blog providing seven more “easy” improvements.
1. The “No’s”
Your resume must be perfect with no typos, grammatical errors, or even tense changes. Basically, there can’t be any inconsistencies in how you present yourself. Even one minor mistake will eliminate you from being considered.
In addition to these careless errors, you need to eliminate the use of acronyms that don’t drive credibility and all company jargon (this will be surprisingly hard).
2. Be the Leader, Not a Manager
Start by limiting the description of your responsibilities, which don’t make you standout, since many people have the same responsibilities.
It’s important to link your leadership to specific results. Matt Gill, an executive recruiter who leads MICA Consulting, counsels to link the strategies you developed directly to action and prove your successes.
Here’ a tricky balance: communicate that you are a respected leader of your peers while also a team player. Be careful about how you communicate your leadership. Never make flat statements. Rather, show you’re leadership in context with actions and results.
This is easy to understand although sometimes hard to do since you may not have the data. Specific results add depth and texture to your story, making it stronger. In fact, if you can’t quantify an accomplishment, question whether it should be included.
You can be resourceful, however, and use facts rather than numbers to prove success:
- The test rolled out nationally after I left;
- This program was continued for three years; and
- This initiative was expanded 6-months early.
4. Cut the B.S.
Eliminate the useless fluff such as: I’m an energetic go-getter…creative…out of the box thinker.
LinkedIn publishes a list of the 10 most overused words and phrases to avoid. The 2010 list included: extensive experience, innovative, motivated, results oriented, dynamic, proven track record, team player, fast-paced, problem solver, and entrepreneurial.
The 2011 list added: creative, effective, communications skills, and dynamic.
Note that most of these concepts are positive but they should be communicated via your actions and results, never stated as a fact.
5. Use PAR: Problem/Action/Results Approach
You can show how you delivered results by quickly explaining:
- Problem you were solving,
- Action you took, and
- Results you generated…all in the same sentence.
This approach helps make your accomplishments easy to understand and relate to.
6. Be Transferable
We all know that recruiters usually are hired to find the perfect square peg, meaning their clients want someone who already has done the job they are filling in the same category.
Therefore, the recruiters and hiring managers will have to be able to see how your skills, developed in other categories, can be beneficial for their business.
Great resumes demonstrate how skills can transfer from one category to many others. They also demonstrate adaptability and successful experience causing change and thriving during change and disruption.
7. Get Help
Be sure to send your resume and other job search tools to friends, especially non-marketers, to be sure:
- Nothing is confusing
- No mistakes
- Transmits 100% correctly (I try to use PDF, although some recruiters and companies require you to use Word and even the body of an email).
You can save time and often improve your presentation by having them professionally typed.
8. Negate Your Negatives
Everybody has negatives that need to be directly addressed.
- If you are fifty (maybe even younger), you have to prove that you are up-do-date, Internet and social media savvy, and drive change as well as results.
- If you’ve had too many short-term jobs, you may want to describe why you left: recruited by previous boss…company sold…new CEO…lost funding….
- If you’ve had a very long tenure with your last company (it does happen!), then you have to emphasize how you drove change and worked in a variety of categories or classes of trade.
- If you’re interviewing for a new industry or function, you also have to prove how you’ve been successful with previous changes and the incremental benefits you bring from outside their category.
9. Include the Right Screening Words and Thoughts
Whether you’re resumé is being screened by a junior H.R. person or software program, you need to make it obvious that you fit their requirements. This comes directly from their job spec, information you’ve gained from the company, or specs from the same types of positions that you can find online at places such as indeed.com.
- Companies, categories, titles, functions, and sub function that are tailored to the job that you’re targeting
- Results and success
- Internet, ecommerce, web, social media, inbound marketing and whatever is the most up-to-date language in your specialization.
- Leadership and teamwork
- Ability to handle and create change.
- Language of the specific industry and job that you’re targeting.
10. Add some sweeteners
If they strengthen your positioning, be sure to include:
- Relevant awards
- Professional association such as MENG
- Links to books, white papers, websites, and blogs
- International: languages or living overseas
- Technical skills
I’m a big fan of including early non-marketing careers & education, especially if they enhance a core business skill such as finance, operations or technology.
11. Sell Hard
There are four simple ways to sell hard in addition to the normal litany of accomplishments.
- Name the 5 C’s: Well-known companies, clients, customers, categories and classes of trade.
- Promotions: You can’t show too many, even early in your career.
- Knowledgeable Previous Hiring Managers: Make it clear any time you were hired by previous bosses, rehired by a company or client, or selected by a boss to do anything obviously difficult or unique.
- Company awards to show that you’re respected.
While these are just eleven of the thirty-one “easy” improvements in the “How to Improve Your Resumé in Sixty Minutes” webinar, starting with these will let you significantly improve your resumé for a job search.