Have you ever been asked what you do for a living? And have you ever found yourself giving a long explanation to try and explain what may not be a super obvious job title or line of work?
It’s one thing to be able to explain yourself in person when asked what you do. It’s entirely another thing, to be able to explain yourself on paper. The difference between the two is the level or obligation of your audience.
If you and me are talking on the phone and your job confuses me, you can be darn sure I will follow up with 20 questions. However, if I’m reading a confusing resume, I will put it down and walk away (and you can be darn sure this is one of the main reasons people experience minimal call-backs).
This is especially true if you don’t hold a standard title OR if you are like most people I work with: Looking to end up in a NEW industry or career path. I hear this from clients all the time: “I feel like my resume doesn’t communicate what I actually can do.”
So how do you communicate a better brand on paper, so that hiring managers sit up and take notice?
1. Connect the Dots
Remember: your reader doesn’t know anything about you other than that your resume somehow ended up in their inbox. Thus, you must IMMEDIATELY tell them, “I do what you are looking for.” If your most recent jobs have virtually nothing to do with the job opening in question, this is a dot disconnect that needs fixing.
If you have experience 4 roles prior, but nothing recently, it doesn’t make you “qualified.” The hiring manager wants to feel confident you are the best. So you have to find a way to speak to the hiring manager in your most recent roles.
2. Look to the Job Description
One way to connect the dots is by looking at specifically what they are asking for. If they say it and you’ve done it, write it. This is not the time to get creative and find a better way to communicate. Think creatively about how what you’ve done most recently, speaks to the job description and make sure to include as close to the top of the resume as possible and throughout. Whatever you do, don’t just give the reader everything and anything because the excess detail is what ultimately creates confusion.[wpcb id=”2″ text=”Click Here for a Free PDF Download of This List” style=”black_flat”]
3. Don’t Forget the BAM! Factor
Branding is all about telling someone who you are and what you’re all about and the most effective way to do this, is by just doing it. The top of the resume is valuable real estate because everyone starts there. Therefore, you’re missing out if you don’t include a heading or title that sums you up at first glance. I’m not talkin’ summary statement. I’m talkin’ something like: Noelle Gross | Career Strategist on my resume (Do you see the BAM! FACTOR)?
4. Weigh Your Bullets to Your Brand
The bulk of brand confusion comes into play because of those darn bullets. We all have a tendency to want to include all of our glorious accomplishments. However this is a horrible idea and should be avoided, especially if you are trying to portray a new brand (career/industry changers). You have to play up the roles that are relevant and play down the ones that aren’t and the way you do this is by adjusting bullet weights. If in your most recent role, you have done nothing relevant to the next job you’re targeting, keep it slim. If you only have a few relevant roles sprinkled throughout your resume, focus on beefing up those bullets to the nines. Make the resume feel heavier around the areas where you have done exactly what they are asking for.
5. Nix, Cut, Clip and Axe the Irrelevant
When you’re writing your resume, this is the time to be VERY selective. Every single bullet and section should speak directly to your target brand. If your tasks aren’t relevant, play up your transferrable skills (and vice versa) but whatever you do: DON’T leave every single bullet on there to collect dust. You want to get rid of those bullets that have zero to do with the job description. Do the same for your hobbies, technical skills, education… Get real honest here and spring clean your resume!
Now time for a little spring cleaning of your own. This weekend, put your resume in front of a stranger and see if they “get” your brand at first glance. That’s the best way to tell if you’ve nailed it or not! Then, share your result in the comments below!