Make Your Resume Stand Out: Know The ‘What’ And ‘Why’ Before The ‘How’

what-why-how-resume

 

There are no hard and fast rules for resumes, which can make it difficult to know what to write. A lack of knowledge or overload of information, if doing research online, can lead to generalization.  Generalization is using your job description as your resume.

It is perceived safe to use a job description – and easy. What you do is already written out and can easily be plunked in your resume. However there are two challenges with this theory:

  1. It tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did.
  2. It leaves out the two most important elements that should be in your resume: you and your value.

The point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. Generalization does not accomplish this goal, it actually works against you: you end up sounding like everyone else.

Before you begin to write – the ‘How’ – think about the position you are targeting and clarify two items:

  1. What skills or strengths are necessary for this position?
  2. Why are these things important?

These are the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ and will make the how easier.

Roles are changing in business, rarely is one position siloed. There is an interconnection to strengthen two most important aspects: revenue and efficiency. A Chief Financial Officer is a great example. This role is evolving from a purely finance function into a strategic leadership partner.

They have a key role in decision making from strategy creation, implementation and measuring impact. They must be able to communicate their insights to the executive team in a manner that allows them to fully grasp the relevance and practical application of the information to identify risk management, value creation and opportunity to improve efficiencies.

They can have a unique advantage in understanding the organization in full spectrum for a high level to in the weeds perspectives. On a broad scope they can ground the executive team conveying real time consequences of financial or operational decisions while directly impacting line functions from vendor selection to system changes to realize improved efficiencies or cost reductions.

Given this we can quickly pick out a few ‘What’s , what stills or strengths are important for the role: strategy, communication, collaboration, vision to name a few. The ‘Why’s following the ‘What’s are the results: smart decision making, strategy design and implementation, capitalize on opportunities to improve profitability, reduce costs, expand markets and so forth.

Now to the how: how did you do what you did, who did you work with, how did you work with them – these questions help you frame the how. Sometimes it is helpful to include the challenges in the ‘How’. If you helped overcome a significant challenge, knowing why it was so challenging gives more depth and impact to your contribution.

Here is an example:

  • What is important: Get everyone on the same page and moving forward on new initiative
  • Why: Do the right thing for the client – new initiative mission and motto
  • How: Communication, leading change
  • Challenge: big internal resistance to change

After a bit of tweaking – and adding language that supports and represents you:

Overcame internal barriers by championing X initiative leveraging targeted, consistent communication and internal advocates to create enterprise-wide buy-in with the overarching vision: do the right thing for the client.

As said before: the point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. You are actually writing for them – to them – to get this exact point across.

Know what is important for the position and why is actually knowing what is important to them. When you speak their language demonstrating your value, your message will be heard loud and clear.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Advertisements

Would You Hire You?

Jake and me 2014

My son turns 24 tomorrow. The light of my life, my sweet baby boy. My sweet, very tall, sarcastic, challenging, turned-my-hair-grey-in-my-20s boy.  Obviously, he did not get the height from me (as you can see in the picture – I’m even wearing heels!) but he sure got my sarcasm. In spades. Must be genetic.

The challenging part – well, I take the ‘blame’ for that, it was something I taught him to do.

When he was a little boy and would do something not so good followed by a halfhearted ‘sorry’ I would immediately ask him ‘for what?’ then make him explain. In detail. He hated that.

When he would struggle with a school problem I would ask him rapid fire questions of why or why not repeatedly with little time in between his answer and the next why.  I ignored his “I don’t knows” and instead asked what ifs. He hated that.

There was a method to my madness.

It is never enough to just say sorry, you have to know why you were saying it and at least try to mean it.

When you are struggling with a problem, often you know the answer. You either doubt yourself or do not trust yourself to follow through on your own answer.

After the rapid fire and the light turned on that he did know the answer, I would tell him ‘you got this’ and he would smile with a ‘yeah, I do.’

How does this at all relate to careers? Doubting oneself is a major roadblock in writing your resume.

There are two primary themes in the advice I give for writing your resume:

  1. Write toward what you want
  2. Write for your audience

Your resume is your branding statement to show the reader that you can solve their problems. If they did not have a problem, they would not be talking to you (or rather readying your resume).

It is important to know what is important to your reader, the position, the company, the industry. What are their problems, where do they need the most help, what is most important to succeed in that role?

You may not know the specifics to a company, but you should know the importance to the position. If you cannot answer those questions then why are you going after it?

Here is my challenging to you: if you cannot answer what is important in the job you want and how you can add value – then what are you doing? Why would anyone want to interview you if you do not even know anything about the position? How can you possibly sell them if you cannot speak to what is important to them?

I am not a car person, I once confused the oil light for the low on gas light. I am not a car person. If I were going to go buy a new car I do not want to get the sales person like me in terms of car knowledge.

Someone who comes up and says, “yeah, I don’t really know anything about cars, but I am a people person so I know I can do this job. Gas mileage on this one? I don’t know, I think it takes unleaded. You should buy it, it has four wheels, lots of shiny things on the dashboard and a great color of blue.”

Here is the thing – you DO know.

If it is a lateral move you really know. If it is a move up in your career, you have a pretty good idea. Stop doubting yourself so much. Besides, you can do research to back it up for crying out loud.

If you are doing a lateral move – think about it from this perspective: who would you hire? What would you want them to do? What skills, strengths, aptitudes and attitudes do they need to do well? How will they be measured? What would be expected of them? Write a job description for that job wanting to attract the best/perfect candidate. Then compare it to your resume. Did you even pass your own job search/interview?

If you are moving up, think about people in that position that you know or knew that did well or what you feel it would take. Research the position, connect with people in that position on LinkedIn and talk to them. Do some research, trust yourself and start putting it together then make sure your resume reflects the attributes that are necessary to perform the duties.

If you are transitioning into an unknown area, start with the research. Dig into the job, industries, markets, trends and reach out on LinkedIn to those in the industry or positions. Ask questions, take notes and put it all together. Then take a step back and identify what strengths and skills are required to perform the duties. Highlight those skills  – they are called transferable skills.

Did you notice a bit of a theme here – talk to people. Leverage LinkedIn, it is an amazing business tool. Find an accountability partner who will ask you those rapid fire questions so you stop thinking so much and spit it out.

Time to get back in the game – you’ve got this!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?

resume-speak-their-language

No matter where I roam, I am a Hoosier. I was raised on Bobby Knight’s coaching and weekend show, Reggie Miller ruling the court, watching the Indians on 16th Street and lighting of the world’s largest Christmas tree to name a few.

First and foremost I am just going to say, people are people. I meet and enjoy conversations with amazing, kind, good people all over the country. There is no judgement that one location is better than the other.

We now have an office in Tennessee. I have learned to manage the travel and scheduling, but had the most fun learning and observing the subtle differences between the two locations.

Although, we do have one thing in common: we all love Peyton and claim him as our own.

The biggest difference between the Midwest and the Mid-South to me has been the nuances of language. Although I still cannot figure out why it is standard to write Midwest as one word yet Mid-South is typically a hyphenated word.

I quickly discovered a uniqueness in the Mid-South, at least in my area, name calling. Name calling in the Mid-South is meaningless. A different kind of name calling.

I have been called sweetie, sweets, baby, baby doll, babe, honey and hon. Oh yeah, and sweet thing.

My boyfriend and I were at a local spot getting a pop when I heard, “Hey, sweet thing!”

In both the Midwest and the Mid-South the intent was to get my attention.

Now, where I am from, there is a certain connotation that comes with someone yelling that out. If I were back in the Midwest, I would have had a much different reaction. It would have been an insult to my boyfriend, and me, in a really bad icky-ish pick up throwaway line.

Not in the Mid-South, I just turned around. Not that I naturally assumed that I was the ‘sweet thing’ in question, but there was no one else around and I took a chance they were not yelling it out to my boyfriend.

Mr. Sweet Thing then asked me where I got my boots because his wife would look really good in them. I have to give him credit, they were awesome boots. One of my favorites, the pair I call my pirate boots: knee high black leather, fold over top, dangling charms, pointy toe with three inch heels.

When I told him a store in Indiana he said that stunk because he really wanted to get them for her and thanked me.

I learned that hearing any additional name within a sentence is not a personal thing, it is simply a word: thank you sweetie, good morning baby doll, hon can I help you, here babe let me get that for you, have a great day honey. Regardless of race, religion, size, shape – those little words are stuck in sentences.

I am used to hearing words, just a word without major meaning, stuck in somewhere in a sentence, in the Midwest you can here bro, brother, brah, buddy, dude, bud. It is not uncommon for men to use these types of words when speaking to each other, the Mid-South just happens to give the ladies their own list. Thanks y’all!

What does this have to do with resumes? Certainly not a suggestion of adding these words in there! No, no, no, it is all about the language nuance.

When reading open position postings, are you picking up on the nuances?

When you read about the company, are you getting the feeling of the atmosphere or environment? Does the company or position sound like it is a nose to the grindstone, all out, hard core performance only matters or a relaxed, collaborative place that encourages new ideas and growth?

Listen for the intent, do not just read the words.

When you read the job description, listen to your inner voice in putting together a picture of the opportunity, company and environment. When you read a novel, you form a picture of characters in your head based on the words the author uses; this is the same concept.

Once you get a feel for it, dig in for their important words; there are two sets: key words and descriptors. Use both to speak their language.

Descriptors are the words they use to describe activities or items. Do they use words like drive, propel, encourage, maximize – words that inspire action, excitement? Jot down words or feelings when reading to be able to match their level of descriptors.

Key words are word important to the position and duties. Jot them down as you come across them. A resource to quickly and easily check the most used words in any document is TagCrowd.com. Simply copy the text, paste it in the box and click “visualize”. Tada! A word cloud of the most used words.

Here is the word cloud for this article:

tagcrowd-example-within-article

Prior to the picture, there are 713 words. ‘Midwest’ was used 5 times, ‘pick’ twice and ‘words’ 13 times – just to give you a reference for the visual rating. Pick was identified with various endings.

Most people read the posting and primarily focus on the duties, then writing their resume filled with prior job duties to try to match up with the job. This is a mistake, they are missing critical areas and opportunities.

For the next opportunity you see that sounds like a great match, read it over several times to help your resume speak to them:

  1. Read the job duties for alignment with your value and what you want to do.
  2. Read the requirements to identify your qualifications.
  3. Read it all the way through to get a ‘feel’ for the environment listening to the nuances of how they describe factors throughout the entire posting.
  4. Pick out keywords and their important words.

Once you have this information, go back to your resume and communication and adjust:

  1. Emphasize the value you bring to the expected duties.
  2. Highlight your matching qualifications.
  3. Use their descriptors or similar to speak their language.
  4. Utilize keywords throughout your resume.

Taking a little extra time and ‘listening’ to what is written will help you demonstrate that you are the best candidate to the prospective employer in a way that they can hear you. And sweetie, that can be the difference that gets you the interview.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Resumes: “Do NOT” ~ “Never” ~ “Always Avoid” – Enough Already!

burning resume

 

Being on a treadmill at 5 am is not my idea of a good time. I am not a morning person. Since it is safest for me not to talk to people that early in the morning, I normally peruse the news and LinkedIn.

I am not sure if it was that I am recovering from a nasty cold or the gentle reminder that I should not take the holidays off from the gym, but this morning was not only a little more painful than most, it was also very negative out there.

Scrolling through the articles I kept running across the most negative articles, things sounding similar to:

“X Things to Avoid at All Costs on Your Resume”

“What You Are Doing Wrong On Your Resume”

“Why Your Resume Stinks”

“Why You are Not Getting Hired”

“Why No One Wants to Interview You”

Two days after the holidays and the newsfeed turned all bah-humbug! Geesh!

Job searching in itself can be stressful; add in the holidays and it can really increase the stress factor.  Maybe it is just me, but I do not think smack in between the new year and merriment holidays is the time to scare the crap or chastise job seekers.

Let’s keep some of that holiday cheer.

So for anyone who is feeling their hand smacked a little by all the negativity, here are 5 things you are doing right:

  1. You are trying.
  2. You have a resume.
  3. You are not believing all the hype.
  4. You are looking forward.
  5. You are seeking the good.

These may not seem like big things, but they are, these can be the most important things anyone can do for success.

It is easy to get discouraged and stop trying. To keep trying takes guts.

There are no absolutes with resumes. If you read every article, compare notes and try to do exactly what each one says your head is going to explode.  There is a plethora of information available to guide you in writing your resume, the problem is, a lot of this information is contradictory.  One page, no two pages; include a summary, no make it a bulleted outline; do this no do that!  Enough already.

When reading all the articles, suggestions and tips what resonates with you? That is how you do not believe the hype – stay true to yourself. If it feels right to you, go with it. If your career life cannot be contained in a snazzy, condensed one page – then by all means, make it a solid, value-driven two.

No matter what is going on right now, no matter what rejection has come to pass, you are still looking. That means you are still looking forward – good for you. Something will hit, you will find the right job, at the right time in the way it is right for you. Keep going.

By continuing to move forward you are looking for the good. You believe there is something good that is going to come of all this, and you know what – it will.

Take a break from all the negative reviews and advice right now. Give yourself a pat on the back for the things you are doing right and remember these two things:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” – Kris Kringle/The Evil Winter Warlock, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Humility Is Noble – Until It Costs You The Job

tape over mouth

Across all professions and positions, there is one dreaded sentiment that comes up most often when I talk to people about writing their own resume– right after “I hate writing my resume”.

Bragging.

No one wants to feel like they are bragging.  It feels showy, uncomfortable and untrue.  Fighting against this feeling leads people to under-play their strengths, skills, abilities and leave accomplishments flat.

It can set it early in the process.  You write a great bullet point or sentence and think it is great; but then you hear that little voice.  You know the one in your head that says, “Well, don’t you think you are all that and the bag of chips?”

Oh no, scratch that sentence or bullet point, it is bragging.

Yet here is the catch-22: if you do not tell the reader how awesome you are, no one else will.

So how do you convey your strengths and wonderful qualities without feeling or sounding like you are bragging?  You simply tell your story – in a demonstrative manner.

Simply stating the facts does not convey the depth of your value.  It can also leave the reader critical because those that read resumes read far too many that have been fluffed or padded.

“Increased sales 42% in one year.”

Great – but how?  The critical reader may instinctively challenge this with thoughts of “were you given an additional territory? Were sales just really low the last year? Did you take over someones book of business?”

That statement is missing the how which gives it the impact.  Demonstrate the how by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What did I do?
  • How did I do it?
  • How did it add value?

In answering these questions you can begin to demonstrate the how to increase the impact of the what and demonstrate your value.  This is not bragging, this is explaining a process that lead to a result.

If you tell your story, it may sound something like this: “I uncovered a customer need with our current clients; I used parts of our marketing campaign to introduce a secondary product, which was undersold, and increased sales 42% within one year with existing customers alone.”

Now that is a statement.  You can then whittle it down to a more concise bullet point that makes impact, demonstrates your value and solidifies the result. It also shuts down that little voice in your head. That statement will show you are a thinker, a problem solver, a doer and you get results.  Isn’t that what you want the reader to know?

How will they know unless you tell them?

Think of your resume as the pre-interview.  Sit down and have a conversation with that blank document and begin to tell your story.  Filling in the how gives the reader a greater understanding of the value you bring to the table and make the accomplishments more impactful.  It also leads to great conversations during the interview.

Stating the how is not bragging, it is simply telling your story – and that is the purpose of your resume – to tell your story in a way you want the reader to understand it.

 

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Don’t forget to click the “Yes Please!” button to get all the latest articles on our site!. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Insights To Help You Relate To The Readers Of Your Resume

looking over a stack of paper

I am a very curious person.  As a child one of my favorite words was “why?” My father had a tremendous amount of patience as he would explain things to me.  If we were building something it was never a matter of ‘do x then y’.  I had to know why we did x then y, what happens if we did z first.  I want to know the causes, effects and possibilities.

My father taught me if you understand why you are doing something you can do it better. Apparently, I really took this to heart, apologies to all who know me.

I also incorporate this in my teaching style.  I like to explain the whys of what I do so my audience better understands and can adapt their actions for greater personal success.  I also incorporate it in my articles.  When writing about writing resumes I try to explain why you want to use value-driven demonstrative bullet points rather than duty statements and other points.

For your resume there is another why that is an important factor: how the person reading it reads it. How they approach it and read it is another why on how you write your resume.

So just for a few minutes, let’s take you out of your resume process and think about the people who are on the other side of that black-hole void of submission.

Caveat: to recruiters and human resource professionals, please know I mean no disrespect in the following.  I am simply explaining in a manner which I believe would be most understood by the greatest amount of people.  I am going to use examples and thoughts that I believe most people can identify with.  I really am on your side, even if I do not sound like it.  I do not envy your job.

It is not an exaggeration to say that one open position can generate easily 300+ resumes submitted.  Think about that – how would you like to review over 300 of pretty much the same thing for one position?  How about if you were trying to fill more than one position?

They do not have a lot of time and that is going to impact how they do a cursory review. This is why it is important to write towards how they are going to read and understand your resume.

1. Scanning like a ninja

With so many resumes to review, they have to adapt a system that allows them to quickly surmise if you fit the first cut.  I correlate this to a teenager’s mentality.  I had a house full of teenagers as my son was growing up so this I am very familiar with – and survived. This mindset looks something like this:

  1. If it looks hard to read, I don’t want to read it so I will not give it a lot of attention
  2. Just tell me what you want me to know, don’t make me work for it
  3. If you leave out information, I will fill it in in a snarky way
  4. If you don’t tell me I am not going to ask
  5. I will take it as it is written – not assume more
  6. I will only believe half of what you say

Do you blame them?  That is a lot of reading they have to do – on top of the rest of their job.  As far as the teenage mentality – think about if you have/had a teenager and you tell them to clean their room.  In my house what I said and what the interpreted request was were two different things.  I had to spell it out, in detail and assume nothing.  Do not leave anything to chance.

2. What do you want?

Some companies post multiple positions simultaneously.  It is not the recruiter or HR person’s job to determine which job you want or what is best for you.  You should know this and convey it so they can start evaluating you for that role immediately.

If you do not tell them, they are not going to take the time to help you figure out your career path.  Next resume.

3. Did you read the qualifications or even know what we do?

Listing the position that you are applying for as a title to your resume is not enough to convey an exact match.  You have to demonstrate that you have the qualities to succeed.  In other words – talk the talk and walk the walk.  Incorporate key words, phrases and industry important facts/successes into your bullet points in a meaningful way that demonstrates your expertise.

4. Everyone’s successful at managing

They are already facing a daunting task of getting through 300 resumes, do not put them to sleep.  Using vague phrases like “successful at managing” “oversees department” “X years of experience” tells them nothing of value.

HOW do you manage or oversee?  That is what will set you apart.  Years of experience is good, however, it is not the most important quality.  Just because someone has done a task for 10 years does not mean they are good at it.  What if they have been doing it wrong all those years?  WHY is the length of experience a benefit or give you an edge?

5. Sure you did

Listing that you were number two in sales last year is not really helping your game.  If they read that one or two thoughts could immediately pop into their head:

“What, out of three?” / “Did someone give you a book of business?”

That is the snarky teenager filling in the blank. Tell them HOW you achieved those goals and further define them to show their importance.  If you were number two out of four, maybe not such a great thing; however, if you were number two out of hundreds, well then, that is something.  Of course, if they really want to get snarky, they could ask “why not number one?”

6. Why do I even care?

Everything on your resume should support and further your value.  There should be no fluff that does not serve a purpose.  If you have a bullet point that states that you compile and distribute reports their first response could very well be, “why do I care?”

Determine the value of everything you do and convey it supporting yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.  Otherwise, what is it doing on your resume?

7. You expect me to believe that?

Don’t you even dare try to lie on your resume. It is unethical and it will be exposed.  You will lose all credibility and a job.  These poor people read hundreds of resumes, their bs meter is finely tuned.  If you compose an executive summary and list of expertise that rivals a CEO yet have just begun your career journey as an assistant to the deputy’s assistant junior team member – it will not add up.  You may try to say, well, it is just a little stretch.  Nope, it is a lie.

You have a story to tell – yours – and there is a lot of information to convey.  It is a daunting task trying to convey all that value in an impactful way in two pages or less. Yet writing your resume is not all about you.  You must consider the reader in your writing style to make sure your message is seen, read and understood.

Keep the above thoughts in mind and do a review of your own resume from this perspective.  It will make you improve your branding, communication and the chances of getting past the first round review.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
★ Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

If You Want Your Resume Read Do Not List Job Duties

burning resume

One of the most common frustrations in job transition is sending out resumes and getting no response.

Nada.  Zip. Zilch. Not even one little nibble on jobs you submitted to that are an exact match of what you are doing now.

You begin to think that your resume is leaving your computer and immediately sucked into some black hole.  Are they even getting it?  Do they even read it?  Is anyone out there?

They are out there, they are getting it yet they are probably not reading it if you are one default action: describing your jobs by listing job duties.

But wait – shouldn’t you tell them your qualifications by showing what you do or did? Yes.

And listing job duties is describing what you did, right? No.

Listing job duties is telling the reader what you were hired to do.

No one cares what you were hired to do, they care what you did.

If a job posting is requiring a resume, you would not send it an application; yet that is pretty much what you are doing when you list job duties.  It tells the reader what you were hired to do.  It does not mean that you actually did it or did it well.

The reader cares about value.  It is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world – they want to know what you can do for them.  Listing job duties is not a compelling reason to talk to you.

Job duties are a place to start – but to get their attention you have to tell them the value you bring in doing these things.  That is what will get attention.

Describing your value demonstrates your skills and expertise – this is critical in communicating your value effectively because the reader is not going to believe you are amazing at something just because you said so.  You have to prove it.  They read a lot of resumes and everyone says they are amazing.  They will pay attention to the ones that prove it.

Transition your bullet points from stating to demonstration.

Which would get your attention, 1 or 2?

  1. Create reports for various departments as needed.
  2. Compile critical data by partnering with leadership in Sales and Marketing to produce accurate forecasting reports, define metrics for success and identify areas for cost reductions and risk mitigation.

Number 1 is telling the reader what you were hired to do, number 2 tells the reader the value you provide.

There is value to everything that you do, otherwise a company would not pay you to do it.  It is your job to identify the value and communicate it so the reader sees how it can be of value to them.

Start with your job duties, then dive a little deeper by asking yourself clarifying questions:

  • Who did you work with?
  • How did you work with them?
  • What did you do?
  • How did that bring value and to whom?

Start describing what you do and how you do it to demonstrate your value.  Begin as a conversation and then you can clean it up into more concise, resume language.

A conversation break down of number two would be:

Who did I work with: Sales & Marketing, managers or directors

How did I work with them: I got together with them to get their numbers, goals and expectations

What did I do: I put all the numbers together and created reports

How did that bring value and to whom: for those departments, it helps them forecast more accurately, we can find places to cut costs, determine what things would not be good to follow and we created checkpoints to make sure we are meeting our goals and going to hit them.

Your resume is your story about your value.  Demonstrating your value gives them a reason to read it – and contact you for further conversations.

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Military & Law Enforcement – Why People Do Not Get You Or Your Resume

military law enforcement

The strength of an organization lies in building a sense of shared vision, communication and purpose.  This is a fundamental principle for organizations of any size, industry or purpose.  Some organizations are better at doing this than others; and some set the bar.

The military and law enforcement are two areas that set the bar.  They have their own language and culture.  I know this on a professional and personal level.  My boyfriend has nearly 30 years in the military.  There are times during a conversation that I look at him and say, “Hey, Chief, can you translate that for me?”

I am getting better; the thought process in subtracting 12 when given a time is shortening and I no longer think of pots and pans when “cover” is mentioned.

My communication and coaching style is direct and relatable so I will explain the way I do to my clients: you scare the heck out of people.

Not for what you did or how you did it – it is how you talk. You have to admit, it is a weird language. Their fear is admitting they have no idea what you are talking about.

It is great to be face to face with someone and gently tell them that you have no idea what they are saying when they lapse into “military/law enforcement” speak; however, you do not have that luxury with your resume.

I have worked with all levels of military and law enforcement and it is the common denominator in being stalled in moving forward with a transition: miscommunication.

You are not saying anything wrong, you are just speaking in a foreign language.

When I interview my clients to create their branding, we talk about their background.  However, I ask them to explain it to me as though I know nothing about the military or law enforcement.  What is a battalion? How many people does that include? What is administrative control? I ask them to break it down as though it was a company and what would be the equivalent in that context.

That is the key to communication – explaining your value in a way that your audience understands. 

If I cannot relate to you then I cannot comprehend your value or importance in solving my challenges or problems.

It is your job to tell your story in their language.  Learn the language of the organization or industry you are targeting. Find the similarities.

For example, maneuver may translate to initiative or project or the similarity may be project management.  How does a project manager oversee a project?  What is their responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities?  How does that parallel with what you did?

Training and leadership are two important elements that almost every client possesses from their military / law enforcement experience.  What is the importance of the training – think of your audience – how did you perform or receive training, how did it improve your abilities and contributions?

Throughout your career you may have been promoted into positions that do not translate into the business world.  I do not see a lot of ‘lieutenant’ or ‘major’ in corporate job titles.  Tell us the equivalent of those positions and – just as important – why you were promoted.

Start from the most basic level – explain what you did as you were explaining it to a six year old.  Extreme?  Perhaps, but it gives you a baseline to force yourself to use language that is very simple and clear.  From there you can begin to develop your story and value based on common themes, concepts, language and value.

I have found military and law enforcement are comfortable with steps, given that, here are some steps to help transition your resume from overlooked to attention getting:

  • Identify – Determine the civilian position for which your military or law enforcement background translates
  • Research – Rind job postings and sample resumes of this / these position(s)
  • Compartmentalize – Break down the position into categories of skills, experience, training, education etc.
  • Compare – Find the similarities between the breakdown and your background
  • Translate – Identify key words and phrases and understand what they are communicating, substitute these within your narrative
  • Rewrite – Restructure your narrative into value driven, impactful statements that speak to your audience’s needs, requirements and expectations.
  • Ask – If you are not sure how something would translate, ask for help. Reach out to someone in your network that is in that position and have a conversation.  Networks are there to help you.

Members of our military and law enforcement have a tremendous amount of value, so much more than most people realize.  Stop hiding it from us.  Tell us in a way that we can understand and doors will begin to open for you to transition successfully.

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Resumes: One Page or Two – and Why They Fail Based on Length Alone

resume snapshot

Although job searching stinks, you know what is worse – writing your own resume.

It starts innocently enough by going online to get updated on the latest do’s and don’t’s; but then it becomes an avalanche of contradictory information.

For everything every piece of advice that you read, you find at least one source telling you what you just read is wrong and you should do something completely different.

It can be so overwhelming that after reading all the expert opinions and suggestions you are ready to suck it up and get the worst job possible – or stay in a horrible situation – in order to avoid having to write your resume.

Of all the questions I get asked as a Professional Resume Writer, there is one that outweighs them all: one page or two?

There seems to be staunch camps out there whether your resume should be one page or two pages. Each is very firm in their opinions and quite adamant about supporting their cause.

After years of writing, researching and talking to the people that it matters to the most – hiring managers and human resource professionals, I have an answer for those who struggle with this question, with a wrinkle:

It doesn’t matter.

Let me take that back, it does matter, but only to the person reading your resume – so you have a 50/50 shot of being right.

Here’s the wrinkle: there are three things that are more important than length of resume to those that matter:

1. What are you applying for?

2. How do you qualify?

3. Can I find the information easily?

 

If you hit those three questions, the length of the resume will not matter. If it is two pages and you have a one page preference reader, they will continue to read because you are providing the information most important to them.

If you have a two page preference reader, they will be satisfied with one page as long as you meet these criteria.

On the other hand if you need a two page and force it onto one because that is “what everyone had told you” you are short-changing yourself and eliminating a fair amount of value from your resume.

Just as if you have enough for a solid one page and try to draw it out into a two page you run the risk of putting too much fluff and distraction into your resume thereby diluting your quality and value.

Let’s take a look at writing your resume from the perspective of these three questions, rather than length, for a more impactful resume.

It is simple enough to answer ‘what are you looking for’ if it is a lateral move for which you have experience and the title is clearly given. You can incorporate the title as either a header or in your opening statement. You can then use key words as ‘Areas of Proficiencies’ and continue to use them in your demonstrative bullet points throughout your resume.

This sounds easy enough; however, what if it is not so cut and dried?

For example, what if you do not always have the luxury of knowing the title?

Some opportunities are not nicely laid out to tell you the exact title. You may be submitting a resume to someone because they asked if you have one they could “take a look at”.

Then what?

This is when a value-based, demonstrative resume is critical.

Having a selling document that emphasizes not only your skills, but how you use them and the value they provide to your audience allows the reader to see demonstrated value.

Simply listing your job duties does not tell the reader what you did, it tells them what you were hired to do; which does not mean you did it or did it well.

Prove it to them. What did you do, how did you do it, whom did you work with, how did you work with them and how did it provide value and to whom? You may not answer all these questions in every bullet point; however, getting the gist of this allows you to demonstrate your value.

They are not going to believe you just because you said so, you have to prove it. Give these guys a break, huh? They read 300+ resumes for one position opening and to be fair, there is a lot of fluffing going on in resumes. They have to cut through the fluff in a very short period of time. Demonstrating cuts through fluff, it proves your value and you are elevated in the stack.

If the desired job title is the next step in your career progression and you do not have a history supporting using this title on your resume, not only do you want to leverage value-based, demonstrative writing; but you also want to write towards the title.

You may read through the desired qualifications and realize you have not done some of these tasks before, do not freak out. Take a moment to peel back the onion a bit. What skills does it take to perform those tasks? Have you done them? Then write demonstrative statements emphasizing those skills.

When I was recruiting I did not always look for people with an exact career match. The fact of the matter is I did not want to retrain them. One of the worst things I heard was, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ”.  I looked for the skills required to perform the tasks, I could teach widgets, systems and processes.

As a very basic example to grasp the concept, let’s say the peeling back the layers of what is required for the next step and you deduce that it requires leadership, organization and good communication skills. You have held supportive roles in the past, not full leadership roles, so how do you write toward the position?

Demonstrate your skills, abilities and value from the perspective of leadership, organization and good communication skills. Describing how you do what you do using these words and concepts.

“Demonstrated leadership in taking ownership of X part of Y project” – leadership.
“Communicated clearly with all stakeholders ensuring engagement and alignment with project expectations.” – communication
“Meticulously organized timelines for group maintaining continual communication to meet demanding deadlines.” – organization and communication

This allows the reader to see this as a natural progression for you and a good fit for the organization.

It also answers how you are qualified for the position.

It also is easy to read and understand.

This is the last important factor: is it easy to find. This applies not only to visual but verbiage.

The layout is important, there will be a human being reading this. Fonts that are too small hurt the eyes and looks like you are trying too hard to squeeze everything on one page. Distracting colors, graphs and changes in fonts can be, well, distracting and take away from your value.

For the visual, make it easy for a real person to read. Leverage white space, bold, italics, spacing, borders and the like to add interest, not to overwhelm. If you need examples of visual styles, go to Google, type in “Resume Sample” and click on “Images”.

Do not read all those resumes for goodness sakes! Just glance over them until you eye is drawn to one style. Each of those can be reproduced in Word. Find what you like and emulate it for your resume.

As far as verbiage, use words and phrases that aligns you to the position and/or industry. If you are experienced in a field, then it would be a natural assumption that you understand the acronyms and how to use them. Spell them out first for ATS systems and others doing a pre-screening. Using key words and phrases correctly demonstrates knowledge, you are talking the talk. Demonstration is walking the walk.

Your bullet points get more attention and understanding when then are true bullet points, not paragraphs. If you have more than two sentences in a bullet point, you have more than one value within that statement and should be broken up.

Your resume is your canvas to paint your picture the way you want them to understand it. Use words as your paint to create the image you want. Some paintings are better with less colors, some could use a bit of color here and there.

When you write your resume, focus on the content first. If you have enough to demonstrate value for two pages, then use two pages – as long as you answer their most important questions.

If you have what they are looking for, they will get over the one page or two issue and focus more on when they can have you come in to talk about the position.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish how we can help you.

It Is Your Resume – So Why Are YOU Not In It?

why aren't you in your resume

You found the perfect job to apply to. You meet all requirements and can do the required duties in your sleep. This is a no brainer. You submit your resume and wait for that phone call.

Surely they will call you immediately upon reading your resume and offer you the job. It is all there in black and white – you are the perfect candidate.

But they do not call.

And don’t call me Shirley. Showing my age on this one, but darn it, that was a funny movie and I couldn’t help myself.

Why did they not call? Did some cataclysmic event happen that prevented your resume from being received? How could they not see you were the perfect candidate? What gives?

Perhaps they did not see the full you, the one that is a perfect fit for that position. How is that possible? Because you were left out of your resume.

Let’s try an experiment. Take out your resume and read it from a hiring manager’s perspective, not as the author.

Read the entire thing, top to bottom, read every word. Now, describe the person that you just read about.

Can you?

Or can you just give a list of duties that the person on that paper was hired to do?

That is how the most important element of your resume may be missing – you.

There are two important elements in putting you back in your resume: your value and your voice.

Value

If your resume is structured in a manner that simply gives job descriptions of your current and former position you are not representing yourself. You are giving a dissertation on the jobs accepted by that candidate in your hands.

Detailing job duties is not conveying competence or value. It is simply telling the reader what you were hired to do. No one cares what you were hired to do; they care what you did.

Why is it important that you performed those duties?
How did you perform them better than anyone else in that position?
What value did you add to your team, company, clients or stakeholders?

When you describe how you did what you did and how others benefited you are demonstrating value rather than stating duties. Employers are looking for value, not bodies.

Voice

Who are you?

The next step is putting a “face” to the person. Think of it this way, when you read a book, you mentally create an image of the characters based on the words the author chooses to use. This is why I can never watch a movie of a book I have read: The Firm and One for the Money are perfect examples.

Choose your words carefully. They should resonate with you as a person and your work style. Use these words when you describe how you did what you did:

How did you work with the people you work with?
How do you perform your duties?
How do you approach new tasks or challenges?
How do you complete or overcome them?

Have you ever been in a crowded room not knowing a soul? By the end of the event you find the one person that you have something in common with? You seem to be drawn together. Using words that accurately describe you and your working style will draw organizations that best support you to you.

Bringing It All Together

Bring you back into your resume to give the reader the full picture of who you are, what you have to offer and the value you bring to teams, leadership, stakeholders, clients and organizations.

To bring your voice and value to your resume, take each duty or bullet point and think about:

Who did you work with?
How did you work with them?
What did you do?
How did others benefit?

This will open up the thought process to go beyond a job description into the full breadth of what you bring to an organization, team or clients. From there you can then paint the full picture that is you and allow the reader to truly see how you are that perfect fit for the position you desire.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: