Back to Work Blog Series: The Secrets to an Attention-Grabbing Resume

Welcome back to the Amy Mac Blog Series Back to Work: Everything You Need to Know to Get Back in Business — a playbook of strategies to dust off your skills, your resume and your moxie as you change careers, launch a business, or head from the mom force to the work force. Catch up on previous posts here.

In the last post we talked about becoming a social media powerhouse -- how to use social media to stay in the conversation in your industry, find job leads and establish yourself as a competitive, knowledgeable professional in any field.

Today, we're talking about how to craft a winning resume ...

Pulling together an impressive, cohesive resume can be one of the trickiest parts of landing the right job when you’ve been away from the career world for a time. Not only must you make sure your resume is relevant with current achievements, it’s essential to set yours apart from the scads of impressive resumes floating around in today’s competitive job market.

Here’s a tip: treat your resume like a 30-second television advertising spot. Copywriters are paid big, Madison Avenue bucks to distill a message using the most captivating words and phrases to convince the consumer do one thing: buy their product. And they only have 30 seconds to make it happen - which is about the same amount of time you have to capture the attention of your potential boss.

So when you sit down to spiff up that all-important document, pretend you’re a modern-day Peggy Olson on Mad Men. You’re on deadline, the competition is nipping at your heels, and your job depends on knocking this ad out of the ballpark (because it does.)

The Secrets to an Attention-Grabbing Resume:

Develop a clear objective. Have you ever seen a commercial and wondered “are they selling apple juice, facial cream, or trying to convince me miniature pigs are delightful household companions?” Make it easy for your audience: state your objective in clear, simple terms. Want a leadership role as a health care recruiter? Say so. Looking for an entry-level position as a public relations specialist? Put it in writing. Main goal in life to be a trainer of miniature pigs? Ah …. I might leave that out.

Be results oriented. There’s a reason advertisers spout statistics like “preferred by 4 out of 5 dentists”: it proves positive results. You’re more likely to capture attention if you say “led team to a 40 percent increase in sales in the last 12 months” than if you simply say “increased sales.” In this situation, you want solid numbers where you increased profits for the company, or saved them a lot of cash.

Discover and use “Flash Words.” Target audiences tend to have “flash words” – words that make them take notice, make their heart race … and make them want to jump in their car and rush to buy what the advertiser is selling. Good flash words for any resume are: leader, results-oriented, award-winning, and summa cum laude. (I’m just saying, that couldn’t hurt.)

Be a Benefit. Effective commercials start by telling you how their product will improve your life, and your resume should focus on how your skills will improve your new place of business. Ask around and see if you can discover anything about the job you seek – did the last assistant show up late every morning, resulting in her ultimate demise? Emphasize your attention to detail, organization, and punctuality. Are they seeking someone to lead a team in a new endeavor? Clearly state your recent experiences in leadership in new product development.

Brag, and be quick about it. Once you’ve shown them how much they need you, it’s time for your hard sell. Your resume is one place where it is essential to boast about your accomplishments. This is not the time to hide the fact you were quoted as an expert in the Wall Street Journal on page 3, deep in the “personal interests” section. Nope, that goes right up at the top of the resume – set the tone quickly so the reader is intrigued enough to keep reading.

Resumes are your calling card into the business world. Ask yourself: if this were a 30-second commercial, would I jump in my car, rush to the store, and buy this product? Using the above tips will vault your resume into the “must interview” list – no matter what your dream job.

Peggy would be so proud.

Next up in the Back to Work Blog Series: Network Like You Mean It.

Thanks for reading! (and please ... if you have any questions related to going back to work, send them my way!)

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