Thoughts from Ciana

  • 09:19:08 pm on April 28, 2009 | 0

    CASE STUDY:  RESUME WRITING TIPS

    Last week, we showed how our TRUESM model for value proposition development could apply to writing effective resumes that help you stand out from the competition.  We asked readers to submit examples so that we could illustrate how to improve the content using our principles for developing effective messages. Here’s an example from an individual who submitted her resume for review.  She is looking to transition from a college-level Psychology Instructor to an applied accounting position.

    1.  Our first recommendation to this candidate is to TARGET the resume to a specific position (and type of company).  If the resume is going to include an objective, make sure the objective is targeted to appeal to the recipient.

    Objective from the original resume:  “Seeking to bring my communication and analysis skills to a position in regional accounting firm focusing on tax, but also providing opportunities for involvement with other professional services.”

    Remember to “tailor your resume for each position you apply for. Make sure that your experience closely matches the requirements of the job.”  The applicant can gain more traction by focusing on a specific position within the company and a specific industry.

    Our suggested new objective (based on our understanding of her background and the requirements of this internal auditor position):  “Internal Auditor position in regional tax accounting firm where I can bring together my skills in accounting with my years of experience as a college level psychology instructor.  I can apply findings from psychology and behavioral economics to help people more effectively manage their financial futures.”

    2.  RELEVANT:  In applying for a job, candidates can improve their chances of success by focusing on the requirements of the job, not necessarily on what he/she does best if it does not map to the requirements.  For this candidate, instead of highlighting universal skills like “experienced teacher and advisor, superb writer, experienced public speaker, strong research skills using library databases,”  try focusing on points that relate to the position (degree in accounting or finance, ability to research and present findings, strong communications skills):

    • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting with 3.85 GPA
    • Innovative tax preparer helping clients understand basis for deductions, saving an average $200 per year
    • Top ranking instructor at a high-ranking small private liberal arts college for five years teaching  classes in research methods focusing on statistical analysis

    3.  UNIQUE:  This candidate has distinctive skills that set her apart from the next candidate:  as a Ph.D. in psychology with a strong analytical background and an author of instructor manuals to accompany textbooks in her field, she is able to bridge the accounting and communications skills required in the internal auditing profession. These differentiators should be highlighted in her summary of accomplishments and discussed in terms of the relevancy to the position during any resulting interviews.

    4.  EVIDENCE:  This candidate can benefit from changing the language in her resume from descriptive to more results-oriented by highlighting proof-points that she created or proof others have created:

    For example, when she says she “worked with diverse population to communicate basis for taxes and gave advice about possible deductions that could be taken,” she can highlight her achievements more specifically by saying “helped low income and middle bracket taxpayers better understand taxes and deductions resulting in average taxpayers savings of $200 based on uncovering legitimate deductions.” We know stats are hard, but even if she estimates savings, it’s much more powerful.

    Rather than describing that she “developed ‘Money and Happiness’ course which teaches basic financial as well as psychological concepts,” she can use independent endorsements as evidence of her accomplishments: “Received top ratings for college course I developed ‘Money and Happiness’ which teaches basic financial as well as psychological concepts.”

    Once she gets the interview, she can draw upon her experience as a psychologist and training in finance and accounting and tell a compelling story of how she has helped one or more individuals or companies more effectively manage their financial futures.

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