I’m sometimes asked to write résumés for people and although I enjoy the concept of helping someone land in greener pastures, I don’t consider myself to be a specialist in the area. Résumés are tricky and time-consuming, and they require much more than the simple task of itemizing jobs held and skills developed. A résumé is actually a premier marketing document that represents an individual’s personal brand and it requires a great deal of analytical thought leavened by a strong dose of creative energy.
I chanced to catch a terrific presentation by leading global résumé expert Martin Buckland recently and he asserts that it takes 90 minutes for every year of a person’s career to develop a strong résumé on their behalf. The document should be limited to two pages unless you’re aiming at a salary of $150,000 or more and you’ve been working longer than 20 years.
Which doesn’t leave a lot of space for the “marketing” part.
Buckland recommends all résumés should open with a powerful executive summary that encapsulates key qualifications, soft and hard skills and something he calls your personal brand statement. Keywords for online searches should go here as well – and bear in mind you can create several versions of this paragraph to target prospective employers in different market sectors.
When outlining your job experience, every bullet needs to be a “STAR” that includes the Situation you experienced, the Task you were assigned, the Action you took and the Results you obtained. Use action verbs and don’t be afraid to shine. Buckland has a superb website, by the way, and aside from loads of helpful information, he also offers a free downloadable list of 2,010 action verbs he suggests will perk up your résumé. He also offers helpful sample résumés and you can find all of that here: http://aneliteresume.com/
A résumé is only one part of landing your dream job, however. In Canada, about 75% of successful job searches are the result of networking and a new Jobvite survey notes that 83% of employers will use social networks for recruiting this year. In addition, 46% will actually increase spending on social media recruitment and 80% plan to review social profiles in the recruitment process. We live in a world where our personal brand matters enormously and every word we use in the public sphere can help or hinder us in our drive to achieve the results we want. As in every area where writing is involved, quality counts!
I periodically tweet about issues that matter to corporate communicators and others for whom business writing is important so please join me if interested at www.twitter.com/CrossmanCom. Alternatively, if I can help you use language to reach your audience more effectively, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.