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November 06, 2007

Thoughts On The Art of Resume Writing

 

Great writing sells. That’s it. That is all I should need to say on the subject. So for 15 years I have advocated for my clients in writing, on the phone and in person. Now resumes seem like they need an upgrade, a technology test. As you may know search engines use quite a wide variety of factors to determine site rankings. So it is true with searches done on resumes. Blend the obvious need for tactical writing into artists paint. Your resume is a picture in the mind of a hiring manager.Doing this right takes and technology and artistic touch. Would you want to be known for your impressionistic influences or dogs playing poker (sold by the side of the road). The better artist, the better writer usually gets the opportunity to Get Hired!

Just as on a website you should determine and utilize everyth methodology available to you. Writing your cover letter and resume is a little like writing a website today:

  • Start by choosing relevant keywords.
  • Write the resume’s content based on these keywords.
  • Develop a title tag using the same keywords and then create a meta description tag as a marketing sentence, also based on these keywords.
Project Manager/SEO Search Optimization
Seeking major account managerial opportunity proven skills in driving new sales for the $50 million revenue corporate market will be valued

As one hiring manager after another has cautioned me: If it’s not in writing it didn’t happen. In fact, if it it has not been carefully written with the audience in mind the resume may not have influenced someone to take action. The way this is done takes time. Good writing means researching, asking questions and rewriting. Every resume and cover letter must be outstanding then cater to the audience it addresses. Sometimes determining that audience and what they want must be the first part of an effective cover and resume combination.

Two overlooked essential elements of a marketable resume are:

Optimizing Your Resume Through Keywords. Keyword rankings used to be applicable to websites. Now that a resume remains your business marketing tool you need to be as thoughtful about populating your resume with keywords and backing them up. Remember taht computers read and flag keywords and so do those who are hiring. Know your industry hot buttons and utilize these keywords and phrases in original ways throughout your documents.

Identifying keywords in articles, on a company website and, of course, in the language of the application will become second nature. To ensure your computer or human audience recognizes you you need to see through their eyes. The prism utilized today are keywords. Recognizing and adapting the language of your resume to these phrases can make or break you in the search process.

Color them by building them into your achievements. Don’t wad them up dirty and throw them into the dirty laundry of your resume. Search engines like Google and Yahoo have gotten smart about keywords too. You can’t just laundry list or dump the dictionary into keyword sections of your website. It may not help your search engine rankings. You need to earn your rankings by developing good content behind the keywords and phrases. That’s partly because search engines have been optimized. Computers become sharper. So do people, including hiring managers. Dumping should be illegal!

So don’t just cut, copy and keyword repeat to get yourself noticed. You may use the same word in different phrases, but never use that word more than three or four times without developing the story, a picture if you will, or the achievement around it. This is true even if you are using different variations of the keyword.

Selling and Painting Your Best Stories in Word Pictures. You developed a new plan, created new programs, drove revenue, reduced costs and increased productivity. That’s great but specifically how did you do these things? Quickly detail for us the context in which you were given this challenge, how you accomplished the goals set and what is or has been the long term organizational benefit?

For example, instead of saying Created new growth strategy that drove sales to 17% higher gross year over year you could say Tasked with leading new sales initiative called Agri-Business Sales Initiative. Developed 27 page training module, led monthly training and employed new Educational Sales Initiative to all clients that directly led to $96,000 average profit per client per quarter. This training was then taken live through e-seminars across the Southeast region and resulted in 17% higher gross revenue for division or $1.7 million increase per quarter in Fiscal 2007. 

Now you have a story to tell at the interview or you could extend this obviously impressive story to include more range and scope. This also creates enough interest in a potential interviewer to ask you more questions. At the interview you may have time to tell the whole story in all it’s glory.

If keywords are the bait then the story is the hook. Don’t just throw chum into the water by copying job advertisement content. Don’t shortcut valuable career experiences with a glancing, non-writer’s blow. Hire a professional resume writer who has a multi-year track record of wringing out of you valuable content and then, like an artist, brushes in the landscape to create a picture in the mind of the hiring manager.

It’s you in a field with lillies. Better yet, it’s you being asked when you can start your new worklife mission, your new career path.

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