Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Take Your Resume From Drab to Fab - Critical Steps to Make Your Resume Resonate

Your resume is probably pretty good. You've doubtless done a fair job of outlining your skills, your experience, and your contributions. You've labored over getting all the right key words in there; you've proofread your resume over and over again to make certain there are no typos, no grammatical errors, and no red flags that would cause a potential employer to eliminate you from the running. You've toiled long and hard to carefully craft your resume for one purpose and one purpose only - to get the job you want, right? Wrong. A pretty good resume is going to get you nowhere, especially in this job market. Your resume has to blow them away.

Your resume is a marketing piece. You're writing ad copy. You're making the most important sales pitch of your life, and you have to sell the product (you) better than anyone else. You have to be the product everyone wants to buy and you have to create excitement around your personal brand. I'm sure you've heard this all before. The question is, how do you present your story in an authentic, credible way and at the same time convince a potential employer to "buy" your product? How do you differentiate yourself in the market and make your resume the one that gets to the top of the stack? How do you influence the hiring manager's buying decision?

Here are a few things to think about for your sales pitch:

1) Its Not All About You. Zero in on what the potential employer wants to buy, and position yourself to be the product that employer must have. Read a few dozen job descriptions for your dream job. Target the qualifications, key phrases, and requirements, yes - but go further. Focus on the "sizzle" the employer may have put in the job description. Look for the kinds of personality traits and individual qualities they may be looking for in the person they want to fill that role within their organization.

2) Differentiate Yourself. Think about the professional competencies and skills you bring to the table, of course. But what exceptional talents, knowledge, and aptitudes make you stand out from your peers? What have managers said about you in performance evaluations? What have former employers seen in you that made you remarkable to them? What personality traits do you possess that have helped you succeed throughout your career?

3) Back Up Your Claims. Potential employers want to know that you understand the tangible value you've brought to organizations - and they want to know what you can do for them. Why should they "buy" you? Can you make them money? Can you save them money? Can you improve processes? Increase market share? Boost productivity? Find new markets? Bring fresh ideas to product development? Prove it! Don't say you increased revenue - knock them out with how much you improved sales. Don't say you reduced costs - wow them with the numbers.

4) The X-Factor. Don't forget to add awards and professional affiliations, but also mention any civic or community activities. Potential employers like to know the product they're buying will go a little further and do a little more than expected. They want to know the person they're hiring understands the value of giving back.

Employers are on a quest for the best - in this economy, they can't afford to make hiring mistakes. The competition for every job is unbelievably fierce. Don't let a pretty good resume blow your chances. Close the deal with a resume that makes the sale.