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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sales Lab Resumés - Easier, Faster, Better!

Most writing about resumés comes from people experienced in hiring, usually by creating a pool of qualified applicants and selecting the best from that pool. They have an interest in organizing to make their jobs easier. In the course of working with thousands of people changing jobs, we have found some things that don't necessarily help recruiters organize, but do help the people behind the resumés. Use what makes sense to you.

Here are five areas that professional resumé writers use to improve development speed and the results job seekers get from resumés. Figuring out the best way to present these five areas creates your best resumé.

Most amateur resumé writers use only two to three parts of this system. Download Handout

What most people include:

  • Contact Information - Name, address and telephone. Recruiters find that many resumés have bad contact information. Tip-The telephone number on the resumé should call your answering machine.
  • Chronology - Chronology demonstrates you can stick with an assignment.
    A second, minor benefit is showing where you developed your skills.
    The chronology line is: Dates, Title, Organization
    1. Dates - Just use years. Most recent date includes "present" if you write the resumé while you have any connection with your employer (including severance).
    2. Title - Since you can only use one title for each chronology entry (I say so), use the best one.
    3. Organization - I once consolidated three short positions over an18 month period when I discovered the person had stayed to complete one project which was being passed around three different contractors.
    Organize for your advantage.
  • Tickets - Pick the degrees, certificates, memberships and personal information that are most likely to interest your reader. Use these to fill up the little space left at the bottom of the only page of your resumé.

What most people miss.

  • Stories - Spewing facts and capabilities at people makes their eyes glaze. Tell them a story and they will see new applications for your skills. The bad news is that no matter how precise your story, people will not hear what you said. The good news is that they hear what they want to buy. Develop two to three stories that show your best achievements.
  • Positioning - Taking a position at the top of the resumé helps the reader identify where you fit. Paragraphs with words like “challenge,” “diversified” and “energetic” don't get it. I consider three perspectives for developing an effective positioning.
1. Management Function-The four line functions are Research & Development, Production, Marketing and Finance. There are three staff functions, Human Resource Development, Secretarial and Legal (that's Corporate Secretary, not word processing), and External Affairs. In my experience, the best resumés have a functional positioning.

2. Skills and Experience-I once built a resumé for an "Orchestra Conductor." At the same time I also built a functional resumé for him that was positioned for Marketing/Fundraising/Public Relations. The Marketing resumé got him the job as an orchestra conductor.

3. Industry experience-There are industries that require experience specific to that particular industry. Industries where you start at the bottom and gain experience, like computer programmers, wildcatters, soldiers and sailors (staying in their field) can use an industry experience positioning.

Sample Positionings
Each of these went on a real resumé. Sometimes I use 2 lines for extra emphasis. (Second lines italicized)

General Management/Corporate Vision


General Management Executive

Hospitality Management Executive
Assistant to a Senior Executive

Information Systems Management
Marketing/Finance/Computing Strategy

Applied Research-Product/Process Development

Sales/ Marketing Management
Direct Sales/Advertising/Promotion

Strategy Development & Execution...Team Building...Product Development Direct Sales . . . Sales Management

Account Development/Training/Promotion

Sales/Marketing Operations
Direct Sales/Training/Administrative Systems


Computer Operations
Hardware Programs Networks
Macintosh, IBM PC's, DEC, Nova, Micos , IBM 4330, HP 3000 Novell, TOPS, AppleShare, 3Com

A top telemarketer and award winning programmer ...I use telephones and computers to uncover competitive information, feed reseller networks, and close key accounts better than direct sales forces.

Deadline-Proven Writer/Editor Seeks Assignment

Other thoughts
A one-page resumé shows you understand what you are selling. Getting the right material on one page is difficult and requires thought. Experienced buyers appreciate the effort.

More than one page indicates your ego may be more important than your message. Or it may indicate a lack of focus. More than one page risks boring or confusing the reader. Don't make your buyers work any harder than you have to!

Times 12 is the best typeface for resumés because just about every computer can display and print it. Use italic or bold, but sparingly. If you need more space, shrink the side, bottom, and finally the top margins before you reduce the type size. As you get older, your arms get shorter, so small type is harder to read.

I dislike words like “resumé”, “objective” “work history”, and “education,” to identify your “resumé”, “objective” “work history”, and “education.”. If the reader can't tell what it is, write it better!
NOTE - “Objective” is what you think you want. What if they want you for something much better?

Using resumés
The best cover for a resumé is a thumb and forefinger. Your resumé is just a promotional brochure for your job search. You get your best results using it in person.

If you see a great blind employment advertisement that does not name the company, find the three best suspects and go talk to them all. Your chances are better at the two companies that didn't run the ad, because they aren't swamped with 500 resumés they have to read before they can hire someone.

If you really want to send a letter, use an opener that creates interest,
  • include the story from your resumé that the interviewers like best, and
  • ask them to call you.
Then go see 'em.

When you call, don't ask if they got your letter (the only sane response is "no"). Instead tell them you want to meet them, and when they ask why, tell them the story you sent in the letter.

I had one prospect who got my letter ask me if I had been on the Tonight Show. He knew the story, just didn't know why.

Download Handout

We would like to know about your experiences showing what works with resumés. Leave a comment below.

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