‘Polishing, Scrubbing and Tweaking’ your Resume (Oh My!)

by Barrett-Poindexter, Jacqui Saturday, December 04, 2010
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After reading a recent US News article, “6 Steps to Polish Up Your Resume,” my vision of a staid, buzzword-rich resume with your top 10 accomplishments waxed. Though the bones of the article were solid, and the emphasis on translating your work history into achievements respectable, I couldn’t help being consumed by a certain dull roar of the same-old, same-old resume advice.

Unfortunately, the focus on the tactical aspects of resume construction seem to command the most media air-time, undermining, it seems the depth and breadth of a meaningful, meaty and strategically written marketing message.

Having collaborated and consulted with, cajoled and coached 100s of career-transitioning and career-climbing clients over the past 13+ years, I can quickly glean the nuanced differences between a strategically written resume and one that meticulously (and sheepishly) follows the tactical rules of “keyword smattering and front-loading accomplishments.”

Keep in mind that a majority of companies (especially the mid-sized and smaller organizations) still do not use key-word-screening software to ferret resumes, and that your resume will ultimately be absorbed by a human being. In fact, ideal job search, research and relationship practices would have your resume being read by a real-live person from the outset. In other words, depending solely upon job-search boards and other online job-attracting initiatives will certainly limit your results.

Metrics and properly spelled words are essential, basic resume ingredients. Extending the message beyond the basics, however, whets hiring decision-makers’ appetites, spurs calls for interviews and encourages the conversations beyond the interviews. In this way, your resume stands apart from the pack. Here’s how:

•BEFORE writing your resume, be introspective. Simply put, take the time to perform career brain dump through an exercise comprised of challenge/action/results (C-A-R) stories enhanced via problem-stomping, product building, idea-inducing initiatives you took to spur business improvement. Then, dive deeper (beyond the C-A-R) and weave in the leadership, team-building, relationship-leveraging talents you leveraged to battle through armies of naysayers or climb to the summit of mountainous challenges.
•Did what you do help your department, division, region or overall company do something bigger and better — save money, reduce time to market, boost revenues, attract new customers, build a better reputation, expand the profit margin, etc.? Command attention for the little things you did and how they helped the organization do something larger. The bottom line is that you must bottom-line it!
•Of course, command attention for the BIG things you personally achieved, as well. Taking credit for your individual role in business that has skyrocketed, sustained and survived (especially during these lean economic times) is crucial for marketing yourself. If you can take singular credit for a larger, business-transforming initiative, DO it!
•While bottom-lining is essential resume nourishment, the story around the bottom-line should be equally rich. Simmer your nuances with the finest of career messaging juices to establish you as a unique individual focused on target companies’ needs.
Rather than churning out a canned resume recipe with career vocabulary inserts across your Summary and Experience sections, blend together a custom recipe of your finest career enterprises that meld forethought, vision, creativity, bottom-line savvy and customer relationship management insights. Warm up the decision-making reader with words that wrap around their needs.

Position your career expertise by writing with passion, tempered with pragmatism. Show flair–be personable and enticing and assert your culture fit that will attract the culture you desire. People hire people who express ideas and show HOW their ideas and execution talent build corporate value. People hire people who are turned on and tuned into the company’s needs (the it’s-all-about-THEM-resume-concept). And people hire people who evoke emotion and show confidence in their contribution and culture-enhancing initiative.

Rather than scrubbing, polishing and tweaking your resume, consider how you can differentiate your candidacy in the interviewing process! Wile them with your words!