Resumes have come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci created the first official one in 1482. They have become a business in and of itself with professional resume writers, graphic artists, and videographers helping to create them. In the years that I have been working with individuals in their career transitions, I have found that the best way to ruin a resume is to make it too long and cumbersome to read. The best resumes stand out because of their ingredients and presentation.
What Does A Great Resume Look Like Today?
Resumes are becoming shorter, more personable and generate a personality along with a demonstration of impact. There is no one way to write a resume, but you should always ask yourself the following questions when putting one together:
1. Is this resume going to appeal to my target audience and potential hiring managers?
2. Will it demonstrate what I will do to impact my audience or will it demonstrate what I have done over the years?
3. Does it go too far back in time and date me and my credentials?
4. Will it stand out as opposed to blending in with job applicants who look and sound like me on paper?
Applying for a job is an impersonal process. You risk getting lost in a barrage of others job seekers who are also applying, and non-human readers are scanning your credentials. It's hard to convey on paper your passion for what you do, your impact, and your personality, even though this is the fuel behind your credentials.
This is where a LinkedIn profile comes in handy. Your LinkedIn profile serves as more of a door opener to potential employers than your resume. I can search for you by your title, name, industry, current and former employers without you having to do a thing. And as an added benefit, with LinkedIn, you get a chance to see who searches you so you can proactively follow up.
If you think of your resume as a "brochure," you may realize that to get your resume to your potential customers, it is better to use it as a "leave-behind" document after you have had a conversation. Remember, you received a call from the hiring manager because of the interest you generated from your LinkedIn profile, your network or other social media pages. Therefore, that person knows something about you.
Your in-person conversation gives you the chance to show your authentic self and demonstrate how you propose to make a difference in the company. Talking in-person creates a dialogue so that both you and the company will learn more about each other and whether you're a fit.
Now you might be wondering: “What if my potential hiring manager asks me for my resume?” My advice is to gently push for the conversation first, explain why, and say you will present the resume during the conversation whether in person or via email. Employers use resumes to categorize you, using scanners that look for skills and phrases based on job descriptions versus value-based solutions that fix the difficulties companies are facing. This screening methodology will quickly source you as a commodity. Without personality, it's likely you will be screened out.
Market Yourself To Stand Out
Job seekers need to be creative as to how they market themselves. In his book, Purple Cow, marketing guru Seth Godin explains, “the key to success is to find a way to stand out.” In other words, be the person you want others to copy, not the other way around.
Understand that as a job seeker, you must play three roles: product, marketer and salesperson. As a product, position yourself to a specific audience that needs what you have to offer. As a marketer, demonstrate this. And in conversation or during the interview, prove that what you are selling will generate the expected solutions.
Similarly, your resume should have two parts: the promise that you will solve/improve something and the proof of how you will or have done it. To do this, look at your target audience’s pain points and turn your credentials into a solution. For example, if you were a nutritionist targeting a food manufacturer with a formula for weight loss, you might say you developed a scientific method for losing weight without exercising. A headline in your resume that makes this promise would certainly get attention and attract a conversation, even if there's no job opening at the moment.
Realize that if you are a high-ticket item with a salary requirement in the six figures, the chances of you becoming the candidate of choice without a live test drive in the form of a conversation is difficult. You read this correctly; if you are tangible, you need to be in front of your customer to demonstrate your worth in your niche and expertise.
In conclusion, the goal of your resume should be to stand out and attract the attention from your target audience. Remember that your results will shift once you change how you think about a resume and your approach to using one.