There’s a lot more to landing your dream job than writing and sending a resume. But you know what? Your resume is usually how employers ‘meet’ you. And their decision to interview you – or not – is often made after a quick glance at this all-important document.
Here’s the challenge: Most resumes look the same, read the same and, quite frankly, they’re boring. Most are cookie-cutter exercises in mediocrity, even though each candidate claims to be ‘driven,’ ‘dynamic,’ ‘creative,’ etc. But empty assertions like these won’t land you an interview. You must prove the claims in your resume to get an employer’s attention.
Your resume is a marketing tool, plain and simple. Is yours so powerful that it grabs the attention of hurried employers, forces them to slow down, read on, pick up the phone and call you? It must! Because your resume has to get read to get you hired.
Warning! Just because you spent four hours writing your resume doesn’t mean it will be read with care. As a hiring professional who’s been at this for more than 20 years, I can tell you that your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress a reader enough to compel them to read it entirely. Ten seconds. Or less.
Since writing a resume ranks about the same as doing your taxes on the ‘Fun Meter,’ many people create just one version to use in every situation. They stuff this all-purpose resume with gobs of ‘duties included’ and ‘responsible for’ language. Unfortunately, your resume can’t be all things to all hiring managers. As a result, generic resumes fail to produce job offers.
Your resume is your personal emissary. It should provide a positive first impression and an honest summary of your skills and attributes. It must convince the reader that you are reliable, responsible, ready, willing and ABLE to do the job.
If the job you seek is worth pursuing, it’s worth pursuing right. So send a resume that’s carefully written, with one specific job in mind. Length is not an issue. Content is. People will read any length of resume IF the content is compelling. That’s the secret.
Here is a portion of what I recommend in my book, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters: A Guerrilla’s resume screams, "Here’s what’s in it for you!" A Guerrilla writes resumes that are relevant to a specific reader. They target them to a specific group, if not an exact individual. Their resumes are always focused, never general. They are results-based, never wishy-washy. They are accomplishment focused, not responsibility laden.
There are four types of resume you can write: chronological, functional, value based, and Guerrilla. Let’s look at each in detail.
This is the most commonly used format and the one many employers like, because it’s easy to read. Use it if you intend to stay in your current industry, as it shows the reader exactly what you’ve done and where you fit. It details your most recent experience first, then works back through your career history. A chronological resume highlights your job titles, places of employment, and dates of tenure by presenting them as headings, in order by date, under which your achievements are listed.
Use a chronological resume if:
A functional resume groups your accomplishments into skill headings or functions. Examples: leadership, management, sales, marketing, new product development, administration, finance, etc.
It presents your experience under skill headings, which lets you prioritize your accomplishments by how relevant they are to your target job, rather than by when they happened. In this format, your work history (job titles, company names and dates of previous employment) is listed concisely in a section that follows your achievements.
Use a functional resume if you:
The value-based resume, which I pioneered, is a cross between a chronological and functional resume. It’s designed to answer the one question on every single employer’s mind, "What can this candidate do for me?"
It uses a concise writing style that communicates your bias for action. The tone of a value-based resume is this: "I walk through walls on a regular basis. Look at all I’ve done in my career. Now, imagine what I could do for you!"
This resume resonates with senior executives because it portrays you as being just like them – you have passion and you get things done.
Use a value-based resume if you:
- have accomplishments to back up your claims;
- can’t hide the fact you’re a ‘Type A’ personality;
- want to encourage an employer to move quickly to an interview stage;
- are already a high-powered executive; or
- are in a fast-paced, high-intensity occupation, like sales, law or entertainment.
Now, let’s break some rules with a Guerrilla resume.
Done correctly, a Guerrilla resume will get you an interview every time.
It’s another hybrid, a cross between a functional and a value-based resume – but on steroids. This format should only be sent to senior executives. And let me warn you – if you use a Guerrilla resume, be prepared to back it up with facts and figures in the interview. So be sure to document your claims meticulously beforehand.
The Guerrilla resume includes a job objective, summary of accomplishments, and sections covering special skills, career history, and education.
But it uses bite-size phrases and brief statements in a less formal style that makes the resume quick and easy to digest by hiring managers. The statements provide compelling summaries of your skills and they empower your credentials.
For example, a traditional profile section of a resume might drone on for several sentences. A Guerrilla profile, on the other hand, gets to the point in one sentence. Under ‘Profile,’ a Guerrilla engineering applicant might write: Fifteen years experience in both technical and business aspects of the technology industry, with a demonstrated ability to deliver. Then, that statement is supported by a series of bullet points describing ‘how’ he delivers: Discover what the customers want; Drive design, development and deliver; Act as a technical evangelist where necessary.
Some Guerrilla applicants include a section called ‘Career Driver,’ in which the engineer might say: Inspiring and leading teams to develop breakthrough products, which solve customer demands and have real commercial value in the global market.
Under ‘Special Skills,’ work experience is further described by using action words. For example, the engineer might write: My experience has honed the following development know-how: Execution – regularly making deadlines against all odds; Experimentation – relentless probing for new R&D and product approaches; Expressive clarity – strategic development plans; Management – optimizing people and finances to meet objectives.
The resume then closes with ‘Employment History’ (job by job) and ‘Education’ (degree by degree). To see this Guerrilla resume online, go to GuerrillaJobHunting.com. In the right column under ‘Categories’ click on ‘Resume,’ then click on ‘John Walton after’ in the second paragraph.
Don’t make the mistake most job hunters do when looking for a job. They write a catchall resume filled with duties and responsibilities, ask friends and neighbors if they know of any job openings, respond to newspaper ads, reply to job postings online . . . and that’s it.
But that’s not enough. Not today. That’s what everyone else does. Most job hunters are chasing a relatively small number of advertised jobs along with a huge crowd of hungry competitors. Good luck to them – they’ll need it.
Instead, make 100% sure every resume you send is aimed at the specific job an employer wants to fill. If that seems like too much work, then ask yourself this question: How important is my future?
Any good headhunter will pre-screen and qualify you, then ask you to write your resume geared to the specific position. Follow their advice and write that specific, benefits-laden resume beforehand, and you’ll have a tremendous advantage later.