Résumés have come a long way since they were just typed pages that chronologically listed employment histories, job duties, and educational qualifications. Hiring managers are inundated with hundreds of résumés that still follow old school.
In a competitive economy, however, a résumé needs to work much harder. Every inch of résumé space must be used to effectively communicate your value proposition and differentiation strategy. This is not as intimidating as it sounds. A little CPR (creativity, planning, and research) can transform almost any résumé into a compelling story that drives the desired impact.
1. Adopt a different mindset
What if you were not a job seeker but a service provider? How would you approach the writing process? Your résumé would then be written like a marketing brochure or an advertisement selling your services, right? Working with an ad agency is certainly not a pre-requisite for writing a good résumé, but adopting the mindset of one could do wonders to the document.
2. Research needs
Let's admit it. Employers are not benevolent institutions hiring you out of the goodness of their hearts. They have a reason, a need, and, most importantly, a job that needs to be done. The person who will ultimately win the offer will be the candidate who succeeds in demonstrating a perfect fit through examples of past performance. Researching employer needs is therefore the first and most important step in the résumé writing process. Job postings, networking, interviews-all of these are excellent resources that could be used to evaluate these needs.
Once the requirements are understood, develop a strategy to convince the employer that you, the perfect candidate, are the best possible solution for the company's existing plans.
3. Make compelling arguments
Reverting to our earlier assumption of you being a service provider, how would you convince prospective buyers to hire you and not the competition? Make a list of ten compelling arguments that pitch your services over those of the competition. The foundation of your pitch could be based on evidence of past successes, educational qualifications, unique combination of skills, quantifiable accomplishments, and much more. The possibilities are endless. If you feel stuck, call a friend, colleague, or coach to brainstorm ideas.
4. Provide examples of past successes
In the corporate world, past performance often serves as a potent indicator of future outcomes. List all successes you may have enjoyed -- even if you think they were just a part of your job -- with past employers. Now, select stories that best present your case. Covering this information on your résumé allows hiring managers to predict returns (ROI) on the salary investment. [Human capital is basically an asset that needs to deliver good returns for the company to make a profit.]
5. Tell a convincing story
The above steps should generate powerful material that could then be organized into a persuasive résumé story. Attractive, but professional, layouts can also improve the overall appeal.