Ask employers and recruiters their number-one gripe about resumes: boring and bland. Trying to grab their attention is no easy matter - and keeping it is far more difficult.
My last blog post on the FLAVOR resume formula highlighted the need to start with Resume Focus. That sets the agenda for the resume content you need to emphasize. Rather than packing your resume full of the equivalent of Styrofoam packaging peanuts (fluffy stuff that surrounds the real treasure inside the package), be selective.
Out of your entire bag of career assets, what is going to be most relevant and compelling to your Resume Focus? Be sure your resume includes these best assets, beyond your relevant work history, to gain leverage over your competitors. Otherwise, you will be perceived of as a commodity and interchangeable with any other applicant.
So what can give you leverage for your chosen Resume Focus, beyond your work experience?
1. Personal branding: discovering and conveying your authentic personal brand will always provide you with leverage. After employers are satisfied that you meet their requirements and qualifications, they want to be sure you will bring value to the job (rather than just being a seat-warmer), and that you will also fit in with the team and company culture.
The 360Reach personal branding process enables you to get honest feedback about your memorable attributes and best skills and strengths from people whom you select and who know you well. Then that personal branding information can be used throughout your resume (and your cover letters, thank you letters, LinkedIn Profile and other online profiles, etc.) to distinguish you from your competition.
2. Certifications, Licenses and Professional Development: staying up-to-date in your Resume Focus area (occupational field and industry) is no longer optional. For optimum leverage, show your interest and commitment to staying valuable to the employer by growing your knowledge and training. Determine the most desirable and requested certifications, licenses, and training – and then commit to taking at least one. Up-and-coming certification areas in your field are particularly noteworthy for leverage as few people will have attained them.
3. Professional Associations: joining and actively participating in one or more Professional Associations that are relevant to your Resume Focus is job-search smart. It will provide you with opportunities for professional development, as well as connect you with other professionals in your field. Networking is still the number-one way people find jobs!
In addition, employers and recruiters often post job openings with professional associations that they may not list anywhere else. As a member, you would have access to those job postings.
4. Languages: attaining a competitive advantage can also be achieved by expanding your vocabulary! While the English language is still predominantly used throughout the U.S., it may not be in other countries. If you are looking for an overseas job, then learning the language of that country will be paramount.
Even within the U.S., additional languages such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Arabic, have gained importance. More and more companies and organizations have foreign branches and subsidiaries around the world and/or customers, vendors and suppliers, and strategic partners and colleagues whose first language is not English.
5. Computer and Technology Skills: honing your technology skills, just like professional development, is no longer optional. Critical technical and computer skills in your field and industry are now minimum qualifications. If you do not have them, you are easily screened out of consideration. Realize that up-to-date technology and computer skills training in your Resume Focus area is probably one of your best investments in your career future.
6. International Experience: bringing a global perspective and experience to your employer increases your perceived value and leverage. Whether you have had a paid or non-paid international job (such as an internship), accentuate your international experience that is relevant to your Resume Focus. Your adaptability, willingness to learn, and versatility are all sought-after traits by employers.
7. Community Involvement and Leadership: spending your time and effort in community or non-profit causes, whether in a leadership role or not, is a big plus. It demonstrates to an employer that you can really be a team player and that your ego is in check. You may, in fact, have developed a wealth of networking connections or additional skills that are relevant to your Resume Focus. Don’t expect an employer to intuit that you attained these additional career assets – talk about them in your resume and in the interview.
Demonstrate that you meet all of the employer’s minimum requirements for a job, but then kick it up a notch! Showcase your career assets that are of most value to the potential employer in your preferred career field and industry. These are “value-add” differentiators that will separate you from the job-seeker crowd. Go beyond a bland and boring resume to a branded resume that includes compelling components to get you noticed and chosen for an interview!