Have you ever stopped to think about your resume as a marketing tool?
What is a resume? A resume is a factual document that outlines a candidate’s employment history, skills, and qualifications for a job. That definition is simple and accurate, but doesn’t go quite far enough.
The most successful job candidates sell themselves. Developing your resume as a marketing tool or document will take it to a whole new level of effectiveness.
Don’t think of your resume as a simple history. “Your resume is your 30-second commercial advertising you – your professional brand, value-added contributions, and competitive edge,” advises Kristen Gilbert at Evolution Coaching.
A resume that helps you sell yourself will be characterized by the same elements present in effective marketing campaigns. Even if marketing is not one of your strengths, you can improve your resume by implementing marketing principles and translating them into the language of hiring managers. Answer these six questions to get started.
6 tips for writing a resume that sells you
What is your unique selling proposition, or USP? What sets you apart from other applicants whose work experience might, at first glance, look identical to yours? Make the effort to think through and highlight your unique strengths. To analyze your USP, Louise Fletcher of Blue Sky Resumes says, “Look for the recurring themes in your career. Think about the most frequent compliments you have received. Identify those times when you were the happiest and most fulfilled in your job.”
What does the employer need, and how will you provide it? Careful research will give insight into specific needs that the employer is seeking to fill with this hire. This information will not only guide your decision about whether to apply; it will also help you tailor your resume to highlight how you are uniquely suited to answer their need and can offer additional skills and value in areas they had not considered.
What successes have you helped others achieve? The best marketing messages focus on benefit to the buyer, not the features of what is being sold. In the job search arena, the prospective employer is the buyer. Showing them how former employers have benefitted from your contributions will enable them to envision you as a successful member of their team. Paint the picture with specific and quantifiable achievements.
What action do you want the hiring team to take? An effective marketer knows the importance of a call to action, such as signing up for a mailing list or purchasing the product. As a job applicant, your call to action to the hiring manager is to invite you to interview. A polite, professional call to action in your cover letter communicates definite interest in the company and position.
Does every word count? A resume is a sample of the applicant’s written communication skills. It should be engaging, concise, direct, and free of errors. Active verbs carry more energy than passive or being verbs. Include keywords from the job description and eliminate verbosity and jargon. The reader will decide in seconds whether to keep your resume. Superfluous words will not improve your chances.
What first impression will your resume give? Visual design helps a resume engage the reader in those first few seconds. It needs to look clean, modern, and professional, but Gilbert cautions against too much creativity: “It may render your resume as being incompatible with the top 50 Applicant Tracking System (ATS) programs, which most hiring companies now use to scan your resume for keywords, even before a human eye reviews it. Unusual fonts and graphics will catapult you out of the system and into the trash.”
Are you prepared to market yourself as you seek a career transition?
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For more insight into preparing a strong resume, see our Candidate tools page.