You are your own brand, your product is you, and your resume is your executive summary pitch. Whether you are looking for a job, entertaining a career move, or wanting to grow your professional network, you must have a compelling, engaging, and captivating story to tell. First impressions are often the only impressions people will have of you, and you want to stand out. It all starts with your resume.
Given LinkedIn and other creative ways to have your profile discovered, now it’s easier than ever to broadcast a long list of things you have done. However, quantity and visuals are not a replacement for quality and storytelling. Everyone you interact with – from potential employers, investors, and advisors to your employees, peers, and bosses, will only invest time and resources if you can capture and retain their attention. Ask yourself:
- Can you walk anyone through your resume? A potential employer? Your neighbor? Your grandma?
- What are your life & work themes? Who are you? What is your footprint?
- Do you know what your edge is? Where do your interests, motivators, and skills align?
- Where and how do you thrive? When are you in the flow?
- How do you acquire, activate, and retain people around you? If I am about to call anyone right now, why should I call you?
These are a few of the important questions we will help you answer by reviewing your resume and helping you draft your story. Walking anyone through your resume will be a breeze.
We have helped 200+ college seniors, graduate students, young professionals, and mid-level executives build a strong professional presence and transition to jobs and industries of their first choice. From traditional backgrounds in liberal arts, social sciences, and business through established corporate functions to niche industries, career switchers, and entrepreneurs, we are here to help.
These are our guiding principles:
1. Prioritize your story.
A compelling resume begins by reflecting on and selecting your most relevant and meaningful professional experiences so far. Select experiences where you have created the most value or developed substantial technical and interpersonal skills. Your future employer is your current client, and they will judge you on your ability to prioritize – a solid indicator whether you would be able to do the same later on the job when faced with multiple demanding projects and deadlines.
Furthermore, keep to one page – no exceptions. Unless you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or reporting to one, there is no better way to show you can prioritize than by curating your content on one page. Whatever else you have to say, it’s either not important or can wait for the interview. Do not fall into the trap of listing every single chore you have done, especially repeating the same task over and over across many jobs. Focus on what has moved the needle.
Your goal is to control the job application process end-to-end and lead the interviewer into playing your game. Prioritizing your content is the first step as it helps you anticipate what questions you will likely get and the direction of the conversation.
2. Measurable actions => Clear results.
A great resume is like any other project you are tasked to complete – it needs a clearly stated beginning state, your contribution, and end result that followed your participation. In other words, every bullet under every professional or academic engagement has to indicate the action that you took and the impact that you triggered. Measurable terms (e.g., % growth, revenue, etc.) are best, but qualitative definitions would suit as well. Avoid putting your interviewer to sleep by making him read generic job entries.
Here is a quick test: If we replace your name on top of your resume with someone else’s name, would that resume pass as a legitimate document? If it does, you have a problem – your resume is too generic and impersonal. You want your resume to reflect you – your actions, your results, your contributions, measured and expressed clearly.
3. Show some character.
A perfect resume seamlessly integrates character throughout the entire body, and indirectly indicates what your abilities and strengths are. A solid body that incorporates action and result gives plenty of substance for the interviewer to judge your abilities and strengths, and to ask targeted questions during the interview. Please do not explicitly list your soft skills in any shape or form, and also do not include an “Objective” section at any rate (this is why you have a Cover Letter). Show character through your community and non-profit involvements, as well as through your interests, travels, and hobbies, but apply professional modesty, confidence, and wisdom by letting the interviewer reach his or her own conclusions whether you are a good team player or have strong communication skills.