By Dr. Hume Johnson
Lets reinvent your resume! So you’ve dug through your old files to find that resume that you have not looked at since you landed your last job a while ago. You’ve dusted it off and are now ready to shake up your career and thrust yourself into the hunt for new and better job opportunities. You want to land that interview, and so your focus is to make sure you are confident and assertive during the interview with your potential employer.
But what about on paper? How do you look or come across on paper? In other words, what does your résumé say about you? Does it sell you in an effective way to a potential employer?
On average, American corporations receive 250 resumes per job opening. And after a job opening is posted, it takes just 200 seconds before they receive the first one ( ere.com)! The competition is stiff, and even more so online with popular jobs site Monster reporting that 427,000 resumes are uploaded to its site weekly ( BeHiring.com).
This means your resume is vital.
According to career advisor at Roger Williams University’s Center for Career and Professional Development in Rhode Island, Pamela Fournier, “a well-written résumé is very important because it is often the first impression a potential employer has of you”. She says “understanding your unique characteristics and skills that make you an excellent candidate will help to differentiate you and help to determine if the position is a good fit”.
In other words, your resume communicates your personal brand — who you are and what value you bring to the table. It is the image you present to a potential employer. In this article, I will show you three ways to reinvent your resume and make it do the talking for you, and land you on that important short list for a job interview.
Discover and Define Your Personal Brand
First, you have to know your personal brand. Bear in mind that your brand is not tied to your job title or job description. Instead, personal branding is the process whereby you define and communicate the sum of your skills, talents, experiences, expertise, qualities, assets and values to specific publics in order to stand out and achieve success. Founder of Amazon Jeff Besoz once remarked that your personal brand is “what people say about you when you leave the room”.
Your brand is essentially your reputation. It is how you come across to people; what people associate with you when they think about you, the mental picture your prospects get when work with or deal with you. Your brand is expressed in action – by what you do and how you do it. So ask yourself: do you offer professionalism, illustrate strong work ethic, deliver quality service? What unique value do I offer my employers?
To discover your personal brand, identify the areas in which you excel. What you are good at? What you can do that others can’t? What do people come to you for or compliment you on? If you were part of a team and were to leave, what would the team be missing?
You can also ask close friends and colleagues as well as call upon performance reviews, feedback on work projects and recommendation letters to give you insights into your talents and skills. How did previous organisations benefit by your being there? Use this information to get a sense of what is your expertise and unique value, and use it to craft a personal brand statement that summarises what you do well, and why.
Build Your Résumé Around Your Brand
Second, build your résumé around your brand. Your entire résumé must reflect your personal brand, and position you well for the job that you are applying for, as well as showcase your unique ability to fulfill its skill and other obligations. For example, if your brand is that of an experienced marketing professional, stick to the variables of your brand that communicates this.
Do not include irrelevant and extraneous things that distract from your core brand persona. There should be no doubt that you are an expert in the field for which you are applying.
Your Resume Summary or Objective
First, think of your summary or objective as a your value proposition (the unique value you offer and what sets you apart). Some experts advise doing away with this summary altogether. Yet, it can be a strong and persuasive way to distinguish yourself from your competition. For example, avoid writing vague statements such as “expert communicator who wants to contribute to a marketing organisation”.
Instead, use the job title you’re applying for as a headline, and then craft a tagline beneath to position you for the role. For example, if the job is a public relations executive, write:
Public Relations Executive
“Exceptional public relations counsellor accomplished in crisis communications, technical writing and event-planner who stages events that run without a hitch.”
Second, use action words to show the value you bring to the job. This section is not an opportunity to say what you were tasked with doing. Instead, highlight specific things that you have accomplished at each job that you have held. Deploy action words such as “wrote”, “planned”, “conducted”, “supervised”,“analysed”, “presented” and importantly, what were the results of those actions.
In other words, rather than state your job descriptions (what you were hired to do), aim to answer the following questions: What value did you bring to the table, and how did the organisation benefit from their encounter with you? Focus on key strengths and accomplishments. This provides employers with valuable information that you understand the requirements of the job and their needs, and significantly, the advantages of hiring you over your competitors.
Highlight Skills and Strengths
For college students and new graduates, Fournier suggests “highlighting your skills and strengths that are most relevant to the position”. In addition to experiences, she suggests adding things such as “classroom projects, extracurricular activities and achievements will help you stand out and better prepare you for opportunities that may arise throughout your college career and beyond”.
One of the simplest ways to stand out, Fournier says, is to “do some research on the company you are applying to in order to make connections between your experiences and the skills that employers are seeking”.
Raise Your Resume Brand Visibility
Finally, be seen and be heard. In today’s job search environment, it is not enough to look good on paper. To land a job, you and your résumé must be visible. Get known for what you are good at. The best way for job seekers to raise their visibility is to synchronise your résumé with your Linkedin profile. Display your expertise and superb communication skills, and aim to present a consistent professional image.
These days 70 per cent of American employers say they check a potential employee’s social media profiles before making hiring decisions. Many employers will check your LinkedIn profile in particular because it tends to provide a much fuller picture of who you are professionally. They are looking for information that supports your qualifications for the job, whether you have a professional online persona, what other candidates are posting about the candidate and believe it or not, for any reason not to hire you.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete, and includes your job history and samples of your work portfolio. This can give yourself a leg-up on your job search competition and show potential employers that you are up to date on, and can navigate the digital world in which we live. Generally, use your social media to stand out in a positive way, and to showcase your personality and your skills.
In summary, create a résumé that is focused entirely on your personal brand. After all, it is meant to articulate, on your behalf, who you are and what you bring to the table before you even get to the table.
Dr Hume Johnson is a personal branding expert and president of Hume Johnson Consulting, a branding and communications strategy firm dedicated to helping working professionals discover and build their personal brand. She is also Associate Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University (Rhode Island, USA) and is the author of Brand You: Questions You Need to Ask, and the forthcoming Brand YOU: Reinvent Yourself, ReDefine Your Future. Via The Jamaica Observer.com