Fall Makeover Series: Take your résumé from bland to grand!

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: November 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012
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Meet Beth!

Beth came to me with a very ordinary résumé. Nothing fancy. Her résumé consisted of 10 bullet points attempting to encapsulate 11 years of work experience, totaling fewer than 200 words to communicate the “value” she had provided to her employer throughout her career. The bottom line was that Beth was seriously under-representing her career on paper and positioning her candidacy in an underwhelming manner.

Beth, like so many of the candidates I work with, had always heard that a résumé should be one page in length. Not true in today’s hiring market—instead the length of your résumé should match the “value” you have to communicate—Beth’s one-page résumé was doing serious harm to her search by not allowing for full exploration of her positions and key contributions. While Beth had opened her résumé with a career summary—a good start to accomplishing a great résumé—she had not positioned herself as anything in particular. Instead, Beth focused the summary on a lot of the soft skills she possessed, leaving a hiring manager to have to “figure out” what Beth wanted to do. With a screening process lasting only seconds, this would inevitably result in Beth’s résumé being passed over due to a lack of focus and inadequacy in telling her target audience what she could do for them.

During my time speaking with Beth we explored her positions in much greater detail, speaking not only about her “jobs” but also about the challenges she faced, the reasons for the segue out of her main career path, and the contributions she made throughout. I also asked Beth if she had performance reviews available for me to read, which she did, as I knew I would be able to glean some additional valuable content from reading her supervisors’ comments. Through our discussions I also learned about Beth’s current career target, which was to return to commercial loan origination or portfolio and asset management. Like so many employees in this economy, Beth had been asked to step into what was supposed to be an interim role with her company, but due to the economic climate the position had become more permanent than expected, leaving Beth doing something outside of her true passion. While she enjoyed her role, she felt compelled to seek a segue back into her field of interest, and hoped her résumé would help facilitate that move, hopefully within her existing organization.

Dramatically improving content and design of Beth’s résumé was my number one priority. Knowing that Beth’s résumé should extend to two pages, I now had the room to really explore her background. Through a qualifications summary including a headline, taglines, summary, and core skills list, I positioned Beth exactly as she wanted to be seen, leaving no unanswered questions as to what Beth could do for her potential employers. Moving then to a Professional Highlights section, I opened each position with a shaded box of excerpts from Beth’s performance reviews. Adding excitement and energy to the page, the formatting and content would “jump out” at the reader while providing critical third-party validation of our claims. A paragraph was used to present each of Beth’s position overviews with bullet points following to communicate the “value” she had provided or the key contributions she had made. From fewer than 200 words to a few more than 650, Beth’s résumé is now telling a complete picture—albeit in a succinct manner—of the value of her career and candidacy. Through the new content and design, Beth’s résumé will get the attention she deserves.

Beth’s Reaction!

I loved hearing of Beth’s reaction as she painted such a vivid picture of her sitting down to read her new résumé—the new Beth on paper—for the first time: “I saw your email with the noted attachments and grabbed a glass of wine to settle in for the review. I am in awe of the final product. You have captured my experiences so well, and it is unbelievable the way you incorporated quotes from my prior performance reviews (I wasn't quite sure why you had asked for those, now it makes sense). Ironically, a position just opened up that I’m interested in. The recruiter wants my résumé ASAP and will start setting up interviews next week upon receipt. Regardless of the outcome (Beth did indeed get an interview for the role!), I intend to pursue other opportunities in an effort to find the "dream job.” Your work updating my résumé will be a big factor.”

Find your way in today’s crowded job market by focusing on your “value” and selling it to your target audience through your résumé’s content and design.

View Beth’s before and after résumé on www.ladybug-design.com/blog


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