If It’s All About Who You Know & Most Jobs Are ‘Hidden’ – Do I Really Need A Resume?

Yes.

How’s that for a short and sweet article?

If your understanding of a resume is a recap of title, duties and company names, we have a lot of catching up to do!

Many, many, many, years ago a resume might have been this type of recap. Something that served for both applying for a job and filling out an application. But today, something like that is like an office having a rotary phone with no voicemail. Completely inappropriate and utterly useless.

An effective resume tells your value story, in your voice to get you the recognition and connection to achieve your career goals. It sets up all your career communication: interviewing, networking, LinkedIn, etc.

Let’ dive in by taking a look at what a resume is and is not before we get into why it is critical for your career.

IS NOT

Your resume is not about you.

It is about the reader. Do you know why I don’t state something like “looking for a position where I can add value and grow” on the top of your resume? Because the reader doesn’t care what you want.

They care what you can do for them. What’s in it for them? What do they gain by hiring you?

It is not a biography, tell all or epic novel.

One of the hardest parts of building your brand is taking out what is not important to your audience. The reason this is hard is two-fold:

1. We may get over excited wanting to explain the depth of our background. No one cares about every little project or task we’ve done. It’s too much.

2. We devalue ourselves and don’ think anything is important because it’s ‘just what we do’

It’s a what have you done lately world so your most recent experience is most critical. However, demonstrating a history of growth and increasing impact is equally important. Let’s just leave off the part time job you had in college since you graduated college 20 years ago.

IS

A story that you define the narrative.

Your resume is the opportunity to tell your story they want you want it understood, not necessarily the way it looks on paper.

It is a way to make that oddball job or unfortunate position fit into the greater narrative.

Every experience brings with it the opportunity to learn. Good or bad, there is always something to learn. And that is part of your story.

For the good jobs, did you fix a certain problem, create a new revenue stream, improve the customer experience? Why were you there and what value did you bring?

A future journey not past narrative.

If I were to tell you what I did in a previous life working in the financial industry, compliance things, it might make you yawn. It might also make you wonder how that ties into me being a career storyteller. I would need to tie the two together to make you care or at least be interested.

The way to do that is to use your future to define your past. If your target role is a promotion, find out what is important for that position. What are the responsibilities, how is success measured, what skills are needed? These answers become your guide to writing your background.

Your bullet points now will describe demonstration of how you have used those skills in previous roles. How you had similar successes. Proof of possessing desired skills and traits.

Is it beginning to make sense that your resume is not just a fact sheet thrown together to fill out a job application? Good!

Beyond the paper

An effective resume is your value proposition that comes together at the intersection of your brand and the market needs.

So how is it the foundation of career communication (LinkedIn, networking, interviewing, etc.)?

You have the blueprint. By demonstrating your value, the ROI for hiring you in your voice you know how to convey your value in any forum to educate, engage, and excite.

BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE RESUME

Let’s do a quick overview of how we build a resume that serves as this important foundation.

Change your mind set.

We start with knowing it’s a story, not a data sheet.

We discover what is important to your audience and use it as a guideline.

We prove value, skills, success based on the measurements your audience is looking for.

Why do I care?

For each role there was a purpose for you being there – what was it? Did you achieve that goal? Did you make a difference?

For your bullet points, no one cares what you were hired to do. They care what happens when you did it. Take a list of responsibilities and turn them into proof points.

What was the problem (similar to your ideal job, company or industries problems), how did you solve it? Who did you work with, how did you work with them, what did you do, how did something benefit? The beneficiary could be a client, coworker, team, process, idea or company.

Describe the scenario to give context.

– Increased sales 25% – So what? Did you inherit a book of business?

That is a meaningless number without proof. Your audience wants proof because they are not going to believe you just because you said so.

– Increased sales 25% by reestablishing ties with neglected secondary partners….
– Increased sales 25% within six months by designing new widget for whodonits….
– Increased sales 25% after eradicating longstanding backlog in processing…..

Make it personal.

Become alive within your resume. Make it sound like you. How do you think, how do you approach a project, how do you strengthen relationships, how do you do what you do? Use words that resonate with you.

When it comes down to two equally qualified individuals, the one that fits in with the culture is going to win.

How will they know if you fit in the culture if you don’t let yourself shine through? Use words that resonate with you to let your voice be recognized.

Putting it all together.

Now that you have the idea of the building blocks of your foundational resume, how does this translate to all other career communication?

Because you know how to tell the story. All the hard work and heavy lifting has been done in the resume.

Interviewing

More than likely you will be asked, “tell me about a time when….”. You have the answers in your bullet points. Here was the problem, here is how I solved it by working with whom, how and here is the result.

You’re following the good old STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Networking

Too often we use our title as our introduction. You give the power of meaning to your audience. But, since you now know your value, you can engage and set the tone.

The opening “I’m a financial advisor” now becomes “I’m a retirement coach. My clients actually retire early with solid financials to enjoy their life.”
Another benefit of your resume is it gives you the confidence to tell your story in an authentic way. It’s not made up, it’s not foo-foo language that doesn’t sound like you. It is the you that you have forgotten about and can now easily communicate.

It’s the you that is going places.

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If your resume doesn’t excite you, sound like you or represents the you that is going places, let’s talk. I want you to discover the you that is hidden and ready to move forward in your career.

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

No, I’m not kidding, there is more than one type of cover letter

I literally said this to someone at the gym the other morning.

Perhaps not the way I would normally respond, but give me a break, it was early. Chief somehow gets us to the gym in the ungodly hour of 5 am so I wake up sometime around 6ish on a treadmill.

The guys at the gym know what I do. Not that they asked me. They asked Chief.  It’s the southern manners, they often talk to the man instead of the woman.

It’s very interesting, especially for someone not from the south. The closest I get to being a Southern Belle is Carol Burnett’s Scarlette.

On this day, Chief was out of town so it was just me. Somehow, a couple of the guys were talking about early retirement, changing jobs, job searching – you know, stuff up my alley. Then I hear one tell the other that it’s good for him to keep his resume updated all the time (true) but not to worry about a Cover Letter, they’re dead.

Wait. What?

Now boys, I appreciate the southern charm, I really do. However, that advise is as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. And you’re fixin’ to get me riled up.

Too late, riling happened. I had to interject. Because, you know, this is what I do….

Now if you think a couple of good ol’ boys are going to believe a girl who’s just about knee-high to a duck just because she said so well then you’ve only got one oar in the water.

So after the above mentioned “No, I’m not kidding” I did convince them (and educate a little) with some Q&A:

Q: What if you saw a position posted and they asked for a cover letter? Oh, well yeah…
A: That’s right, you would have to write a Traditional Cover Letter, which targets a specific job in a company.

Q: What if you were referred to send your resume to someone in the company? Uh, the same thing?
A: Just about, just a tiny technicality in calling it a Referral Cover Letter which mentions the person who referred you.

Q: Now, what if you wanted to be proactive in your job search and reach out to a company, companies in an industry or an entire region to discover a position that isn’t even posted yet, create enough interest that one is created for you or make such an impression that they refer you to a hidden opportunity – meaning hardly any competition? You can do that?
A: You betcha! It’s called a Value Proposition Letter, which is a crisp, focused letter demonstrating your value. There are versions to this, with minor differences:
– A letter of interest – written without a specific job in mind to a specific company.
– A broadcast letter – written without a specific job to several employers in a targeted sector.
– A prospecting letter – without a specific job to a smaller, more targeted audience.

Q: Okay, lastly, what if you wanted to do something new but didn’t know anything about it so you wanted to reach out to someone to get their advice on how to get into their industry, find out more about what the position is like or even what else you can do once you get into it? I don’t know
A: Another letter – or email – but this time it’s a Networking Letter. You’re basically asking for an Informational Interview to get their advice or gather information about a position, industry or your job search.

My good deed and workout were done for the day.

Oh, and don’t think these things are just thrown together haphazardly. Oh no, each letter is thoroughly researched, targeted and meticulously crafted for the most impact. The most impactful and successful Value Proposition Letters are no more than 150 words – total!

Some hiring managers and recruiters may take the side of the gym boys saying the Cover Letter is dead. It may be in their eyes. But not for everyone.

I know many decision makers across multiple industries that do read the Cover Letters. Some read it before the resume and use it as a deciding factor if they want to read the resume. Some read after the resume as a test to make sure the person sounds the same in both.

Across our industry, it is generally accepted that on the low end, at least 60% of jobs are hidden – meaning they aren’t advertised. Think about it for a minute, how often do you hear or know of when a position needs to be filled, internally you hear those four little words, “do you know anyone…”?

This is why networking and hidden job market strategy using Value Proposition Letters are so amazing. They get results.

Every piece of communication is an opportunity for you to expand your network, cement your brand and open doors. Why would you turn that down? The person on the other side of the desk can choose not to read that letter, but wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?

Of course, I guess if someone doesn’t want to make the most of every possible opportunity, they have their reasons, bless their little heart.

 

Has one of these letters been successful for you? Bonus question – I had a lot of fun with the southern sayings in this – I think “bless their heart” is still my favorite. What’s your favorite or one that you don’ hear anymore? 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals break out of a suffocating corporate existence and get happy in their career.

I’m the career alchemist – I turn job lead into career gold!

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you career happy.

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.

 

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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.

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