I’ve been writing resumes since 1996, and I’ve gotten used to telling people things about their resumes that surprise them. Perhaps the most eye-opening statement I make is that their resumes aren’t about them. That’s right, even though it has your name at the top, your resume is really about the value you provide an employer; it’s not about you. So how do you transform what many people think of as a career bio into a career-marketing document?
Start with a Title
It’s pretty rare that you will pick up a book that doesn’t have a title on it, or watch a movie when you’re not sure what it’s called. So why would an employer want to read your resume if he doesn’t know what the heck it’s about? This is easy enough, especially since well-written resumes no longer have long, drawn-out objectives. (If you have one of those, delete it immediately! It’s all about you — and that’s not what your resume is about!) A title should be the job title you seek, for instance, Customer Service Specialist, Family Law Attorney, or Marketing Manager. It’s straightforward, concise, and gives an immediate picture of who you are for the reader.
Provide a Snapshot of Your Value
Invariably, somewhere along the interview process, you will be asked: “Why should we hire you? What will you bring to our team?” That’s the answer you should be putting front and center on your resume, right under your title in the area reserved for your summary. Isn’t that what a summary is anyway? It not only says what you have done, but it says what you can do for an employer. Skip over statements such as, “More than 10 years of experience in….” What if those 10 years weren’t very productive? All I know after reading that is that you’ve been working awhile; I don’t actually know what kind of producer you are, if you are one at all. Instead, try sharing something specific to your experience that you know will benefit the employer.
Punch It Up with Transferable Skills
Just below your summary, add in your areas of expertise, core competencies, or transferable skills. These act as your keywords to not only help your resume come up better in automatic searches, but these well-chosen words also help to paint a picture of what you can share with an employer. Cull them from your experiences, and double-check them with the job advertisement to make sure you’re hitting the high points. After reading your title, summary, and keywords, a prospective employer shouldn’t have to read any further, except to learn specifics about your experiences, education, and accomplishments. A well-written top of a resume goes a long way toward “selling” you to the reader, and it can make him or her want to pick up the phone and call you for an interview. After all, isn’t that the ultimate goal?