Flipping through 50 resumes, I recall the talented people who shared a moment with me to discuss their challenges in this market. The stack contains the brightest stars, the heavy hitters, and the people behind the curtain helping the “great wizard.” You would never know it by looking at their resumes.
About 90% of the time, I say what a tough customer would say to their vendors:
1) You are too vanilla … everyone says this.
2) You are “holding back” … why do I care?
3) I still do not know what you do ( or want to do).
I could provide lots of advice on formats, key words, and job boards. However I will let the other blogs and career networking groups tell you.
You are too vanilla? I had coffee with a product marketing manager friend. Within 30 seconds, I told him, “this resume looks like every product marketing guy I have seen.” I convinced him to realign the resume to emphasize his sales and finance background which other resumes lacked. He immediately got more responses.
Attempting to appeal to everyone, others create “vanilla” resumes by listing too many skills. A few years ago, I knew some techies who would mow Bill Gates’ lawn just to work with Microsoft. However if you look open to anything, you appear to have less expertise. You can always re-do your resume if Bill’s lawn job gets posted.
Don’t hold back … show more value. Remember sales professionals have no problem bragging, while others are modest. Talk to people in your field and find what impresses them. Select a few of your best skills and show them how this helps their business and its people.
I still do not know what you do? You might tell me that the hiring manager will know. Is this enough? Consider all the hands who touch your resume to get you there. There are a few things which could get your hired faster.
First, know your audiences. Spend some time with people outside your expertise area and see what a fresh look can tell you about your resume. Create separate resumes based on these audiences. Get in the door with the junior recruiter and others who might know less about your job role and your industry.
Second, less is more. The human brain can only retain 3-4 things in short term memory. People only take a few seconds to scan a resume. If they cannot picture the person for the job, they move to the next one. Reduce the number of messages and have the entire resume build on these.
Third, tell a story. Rather than provide a long shopping list, tell me what I can cook. Sales people love stories because it allows multiple facts to be bundled in an easy-to-remember package. When people tell stories, the reader can also picture better how something fits into their business.
How do you tell a story? I would practice talking about your resume. Often the pieces that help people know what you do (or want to do) are left off the resume. Stories also force us to define the job we really want.
Telling the story on 1-2 pages can be difficult. I plan to spend more time on this area in future blogs.