Have you sent out dozens of resumes without getting a single call back? You’re not alone. It’s a tough job market out there, and hiring managers have the luxury of choice. Clearly, you need to stand apart from your “competition.”

The TRUESM model we use for value proposition development can also apply when writing your resume.

  1. TARGET your resume. One size does NOT fit all. Many of us have had diverse careers, and we’re proud that we can demonstrate a number of disciplines and areas of expertise. Too often, we feel we need to list everything, but what’s needed today are specialists, not generalists. So tailor your resume for each position you apply for. Make sure that your experience closely matches the requirements of the job. If you’re not thinking “This job exactly mirrors my background!” then be aware that there are probably (many) others whose background it does closely mirror.
  2. Show how you’re RELEVANT. Include an executive summary – remember, the recruiter is only scanning your resume, so the more succinct you are, the better your chances. Write executive-style (i.e., assume you have 20 seconds or less to make your case). Concentrate on 1-2 points that show you’re a strong fit for the job. Focus on accomplishments (e.g., “I designed a new process based on customer data that resulted in 32% sales growth…”) as opposed to responsibilities (e.g., I “coordinated…” or “worked with…” or was “responsible for…”), which were simply your duties.
  3. Highlight why you’re special or UNIQUE. Do you have any distinctive skills or relevant experiences that set you apart from the next candidate? Another way to separate yourself from others is to make your points succinctly and powerfully using the fewest number of words possible. Think white space, not dense copy. Keep rewriting to make your resume & cover letter tighter and stronger with every draft.
  4. Cite EVIDENCE to gain credibility. Use proof that you’ve created (e.g., “I pioneered the restaurant’s signature ‘stack’ dishes and increased revenues at Chez Loran by 110% last year…”) or proof that others have created (e.g., “I received the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award in 2008…”)

Finally, if you get an interview, prepare 3-4 stories illustrating different areas of expertise you can comfortably talk about. For example:

We had planned our new product debut in 90 days, but our fiercest competitor surprised us with an early announcement, so we had 30 days to launch – with no support staff and on a shoestring budget! I put together a team of 3 marketing people, and I personally developed the competitive analysis, wrote the sales materials, conducted the sales and partner training and designed a successful launch, on time and on budget. I thrive in a fast-paced environment where speed, flexibility and a focus on results are key. In fact, these products were the fastest ramp-to-revenue products in the company’s history!”

Do you need help with your resume? Send us excerpts from your resume and we’ll illustrate how to improve its content in a future blog using our principles for developing effective messages (while maintaining your anonymity).