CIA Strategy Makes Your Resume Irresistible

CIA Resume Writing

Years ago TheLadders did a study and found that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. Keep in mind that recruiters are this laser-focused because they do this regularly.

For other audiences, including HR and decision makers, they may give you a bit more time, let’s say maybe 10 seconds.

That is not a lot of time to grab attention and get your message across.

Why do they spend so little time on this initial glance? Because they know what they are looking for and they don’t want to waste time. From their first glance to a more in-depth review, there are two questions they are constantly asking:

What can you do for me?
Why do I want to talk to you versus anyone else?

Your audience is very stealth in reviewing/reading your resume and in order to get – and keep – their attention while answering their two burning questions, you have to be stealth, too.

Like the CIA.

Direct quote from http://www.cia.gov: “CIA’s primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist White House the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.”

What is that person doing when reading your resume? They are collecting, analyzing, evaluating and disseminating intelligence – to do what – help the decision maker (or themselves) make a decision relating to hiring.

Once they analyze, evaluate, etc., they then provide reports or briefings. In our situation, they would make a recommendation. How do we provide a roadmap that makes it easy for them to recommend you as the best candidate?

Think CIA. No, not Central Intelligence Agency, our CIA stands for: Critical, Important and Assumed.

Once you have your baseline resume put together, now is the time to get strategic and use the CIA method.

Critical – what is most important to the company, position, and team etc.? These are keepers.
Important – what are your differentials and aspects that are important for the position? These are keepers.
Assumed – what are the elements, tasks, skills, duties, attributes that are going to be expected or are common? These are strike items.

We need to do this on every level within your resume. Let’s take a Bookkeeper for example. Their role, in general, is to create financial transactions and reports. Keyword phrases include issue invoices to customers and suppliers; cash receipts; tag and monitor fixed assets; monitor debt levels; reconcile accounts to ensure their accuracy, etc.

These are all expected and routine – i.e. assumed. We could waste valuable white space by listing them out as bullets (and sound like a job description) as such:

  • Tag and monitor fixed assets.
  • Pay supplier invoices in a timely manner.
  • Conduct periodic reconciliations of all accounts to ensure their accuracy.
  • Monitor debt levels and compliance with debt covenants.
  • Issue invoices to customers.
  • Issue invoices to suppliers.

Boring! Plus, that is a lot to read to just to cover the assumed. However, we do want to include these keywords for the ATS systems.

The solution: ruthless editing, as my mentor Deb Dib would say. Cut, cut, cut. So let’s redo this so it is human and ATS scan friendly:

Bookkeeper, Company Name, Time Period – Time Period
Brief description

Customer/Supplier Invoicing | Account Reconciliation | Fixed Assets | Debt Monitoring | Cash Receipts

• Now create bullets that demonstrate your value: what was the benefit to whom by doing what.

 
We can go even deeper within statements to clarify and condense.

If you had the following sentences:

Blah, blah, blah doing XYZ for A, B, C, and exceeding customer expectations. Delivers exceptional client experiences. Blah, blah, blah….

Let’s take a look at that. We can get rid of the “exceeding customer expectations” at the end of the first sentence because it is assumed that you exceed their expectations if you deliver an exceptional client experience.

See how this works?

It takes a lot more time and strategy to think CIA yet the results are well worth it. You will transform that blah, blah, blah resume into a branding piece with condense, impactful staements with plenty of white space, which makes it easier to scan, read and identify you as the prefered candidate.

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position, and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer, and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership, and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence, and influence.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
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Do You Lead or Check Boxes?

Checklist

One of my paramount fundamentals in working with clients is expressing their value.

 

It is not enough to tell people that you have a skill set, been in your industry x number of years or have a certain title – what matters is the value you bring.

 

Imagine two candidates both with similar experience and skill sets.  Imagine having a meeting, whether it is a interview or client meeting and you ask them (or think of when reading their resume/LinkedIn/bio): “Tell me about working at XYZ Company.”

 

Candidate A responds: “I’m a manager there overseeing a team of five and work with clients in managing their financial assets.”

 

Candidate B responds: “I partner with, mentor and lead a team of five in bringing information, security and planning to our clients in all aspects of their finances from identifying their needs and goals, researching options, opportunities and challenges to strategically planning out short term and long term plans, goals and action steps.  We then maintain constant communication within the team and with our clients to ensure we hit our marks and have earned a great reputation of success and trust which merited 65% of all our new clients are referrals from current clients.”

 

Candidate A basically told you their title, but nothing else.

 

Candidate B told not only told you they are a manager but gave you insight as to how they manage their people and their clients.  They expressed their value: a mentor and team leader to their team; focused and dedicated to their clients and gave me some proof in the pudding.

 

Your value sets you apart from everyone else, it gets you noticed and bottom line – it gets you hired.

 

You need to answer the question of value before they ask.  If Candidate A told me that I would pretty much be done with the conversation.  They did not bring anything to the table enough to peak my interest to ask them more.  Remember, you want my business or for me to hire you – it is your job to excite me about you as a candidate; not for me to dig it out of you.

 

If I was speaking to Candidate B I would definitely want to ask more.  They sold themselves without being cocky or expecting me to be able to read between the lines.

 

It is the natural mindset of an interviewer – no matter a potential boss or client – to be skeptical.  The example I give my clients is if you are in sales and state that you were second in the district the immediate internal thought by the potential boss/client is “what, out of three?”

 

They are bombarded with candidates and so many candidates misrepresent themselves that it is no wonder that the potentials are skeptical.  They are overwhelmed.  The last thing you want them to do is think, because they more than likely take it to a negative place.  Sell your value not your title.

 

You might notice Candidate B’s answer is quite a bit longer without trying to infuse hot key words.  Also, it would be very easy to assume Candidate A is a box checker and Candidate B is a leader.   He/she didn’t say it – they demonstrated it.

 

There are two reasons why you do not communicate your value: either you don’t know how or you don’t add any.

 

No value: starting with a title and ending with duties.

 

Value: Start with the result of what you do and work backward.  How do people benefit from what you do leads to how you do it.  That is how you express your value.

 

If you are still struggling on how to identify and express your value I just happen to know someone that can help you with that… me!

 

Ok, shameless little plug, sorry.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Four Ways You Could Be Eliminating Yourself as a Candidate

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from people who have subjected themselves to the grueling activity of interviewing is not being told why they didn’t get the job.

 

It is a competitive market and let’s be honest, there are a lot of quality candidates out there.  But amazingly what could have cost you the job are some simple mistakes that you yourself made.

 

Yes, there is a bit of accountability here.

 

From the moment you release your resume you are on stage.  Everything you do from here on out with regards to the job is being watched and judged.  Slack in one area and it could kill the lights early.

 

Mistake 1: Not Being Prepared

 

There are several negative actions which demonstrate you are not prepared for the interview, or the job.  When that is the initial message then the overall theme to the interviewer is you really do not want this job.  Some examples are:

 

Not doing your research about the company.

Not doing your research about the job.

Not having clean copies of your resume or related materials.

Not being dressed appropriately for the position.

Not showing up on time or showing up right on time – you should be early.

 

Mistake 2: Not Saying You Want the Job

 

Several recruiters, hiring managers and human resource personnel have told me that an interview could have gone well, but they never followed up because at the end the candidate never expressed that they were still interested or wanted the job.

 

Do Not Assume.  Just because you showed up and answered the questions does not automatically equate to you still wanting the job.  Your silence could leave the interviewer wondering if you did not like what you heard but you are being too polite to tell them you are no longer interested.

 

Speak up.  At the end of the interview reiterate that you believe this is a good fit and are very excited to join their team as the next XYZ.

 

 

Mistake 3: Not Relating Experience to Their Needs

 

It is great to talk about what you did in your previous career life, but unless it directly relates to the company with whom you are interviewing it means nothing.

 

Make it relevant to them.  You must demonstrate that you get their need and you can solve their problem.  Do not leave them to try to connect the dots – show them so they can walk out of that room saying, “That’s our person!”

 

Unlike the financial industry, in the career industry past success is an indicator of future success.

 

Mistake 4: Not Following Up

 

You showed up early, were completely prepared, aced the interview and closed strongly with an “I really want this job” – yep, you have got it in the bag.

 

Nope, not so fast – your work is not done.

 

You are not done with the “I want the job”, that is your face to face closing but not the end.

 

Follow up with a professionally worded thank you for your time correspondence.  Be sure to highlight the strengths and positives from the interview.  Thank them for their time and re-iterate your interest and excitement for the position.

 

This will reinforce all the positives that you have and give you an additional edge.  Surprisingly many hiring managers will keep those follow up correspondence to put in your personnel file because it demonstrated a positive quality about you.

 

 

Creating any of these four mistakes can leave an otherwise positive interview with a bad aftertaste.  However, if you avoid you them will stand out above other candidates in a very positive way.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com