Your Resume on Steroids

It was so much easier a few years ago when resumes were delivered by mail and not the internet.  Though speed is certainly important and it is vital to have the ability to make immediate contact with the person who will be ultimately deciding your employment fate, the question must be raised:  How do you make your resume stand out in today’s digital delivery system? 

 It was just seven years ago during my last In Transition period when I mailed resumes through the U.S. Post Office.  I was able to get the attention of prospective employers by using an off-white or even a “macho” steel-colored stationery.  And of course the quality or weight of the paper was always the topic for serious discussion amongst those who were in the job-seeking market.  On a recent trip to Staples I noticed that Resume Quality Stationery was still available but of course one needs to ask why you would buy such paper?  Unless it is important for you to have quality resume  paper so that when you hand your resume to the interviewer he or she takes notice, I ask the question again: Why would you need such an added expense?

Remember, the resume is the tool to get you your initial interview.  It needs to get the attention of the decision-maker immediately because you are just one of hundreds interested in opening that proverbial front door.  You need to make a positive impression and unfortuantely that is much more difficult with a digital resume than what was the case previously in formal written form.

Before you do anything it is imperative that you visit a website that can answer most of your resume questions:  http://www.rockportinstitute.com/resumes.html.  Though this website by Rockport Institute will not write your resume for you, it will certainly point you in the right direction.  Of course there are individuals and services that will indeed write your resume.  These services are usually costly and unless it is a job that you feel you need to really invest in panache, it is very likely that with a few pointers you can achieve a top-notched resume on your own.

Remember, a resume is your marketing tool; it is your attention-getter; it is your door-opener.  You certainly want to talk about your past achievements (education, awards, etc.) but in true marketing form, you want to also describe the benefits that your future employer will receive by hiring you.  Describe how you can bring new thinking into play, improve their bottom-line and bring a new exciting perspective to the organization.  Detail how your experience with other entities can help them in the future and more importantly promote the idea that you are so unique in your abilities that within a year of being hired that you will pay for yourself in added returns for the organization.  Tough task to achieve?   Yes, but certainly not impossible. 

Promote and market yourself like any other product on the market.  Use your business associates and contacts to help you in this process.  Have your contacts write recommendations for your candidacy and have them forward them to the selection committee or search firm.  Of course these should only be from individuals who have a direct personal relationship with the decision-makers. 

 Use your LinkedIn Profile as a marketing tool.  Hopefully you have already arranged for 10 to 20 recommendations from a wide variety of friends, contacts and business associates to be displayed on your Profile.  Use your LinkedIn Profile as an adjunct to your resume by listing it as part of your contact information on your resume, cover letter and even as an element of your e-mail signature.   And if you author a blog make sure that address is also listed.

To get the attention of the decision-makers I have used an old technique – I have included a professional photo of myself as part of my resume.  No, it looks better than your typical business card picture and looks nothing like a realtor or insurance agent.  I do not know if it makes a difference but I will try it until I find something else to make me stand above the other candidates in the marketplace. 

Though many would like you to think that there is a science to all this, many would confess that it is all art.  You need to position yourself in the most dynamic and positive light available and that is different for every candidate and for every decision-maker.  I don’t know about you but I will keep trying until I get it right.  Good Luck!

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4 thoughts on “Your Resume on Steroids

  1. The Ladders.com also has excellent resume tools and tips, especially when it will be “processed” by online bots many recruiters and companies now use. The ironic thing about the bots is that the “power words” we are so used to using to be read by humans are now seen as spam words to a bot.

    Writing a resume for a computer is not the same as for a human being. Most often, though even resumes you attach to an email, are first run through a resume-reading bot, scanned, keyworded and databased before any human being ever reads it.

  2. The use of a photo is a real gamble and can easily backfire. You never know who is looking at it and what their preferences or pre-conceived notions are. Suddenly, you are being judged, a little or a lot, consciously or unconsciously, on your looks and not your qualifications. A bit too heavy? A bit too thin? A bit too old? Maybe the “wrong” ethnicity? Yes, it happens all the time.

    Google the phrase “including a photo with a resume” and it seems the advice is overwhelmingly not to do it.

    Many firms will not even allow a photo to be included, or will discard it immediately before the resume gets into the hands of the decision maker(s).

    As you said, hard to tell if including a photo makes a difference or not, but it comes with a risk that goes beyond simply being ineffective or neutral.

    Just some thoughts. It’s rough waters out there.

  3. Well I did say that you need to get the attention of the decison-makers. I can certainly understand the sensitivity over photos but let’s face it – if I am not the “kind” of person they want (age, gender, look etc.) I won’t get past the interview anyway. At least this way we save time and effort for both parties.

    By the way, do I really want to work for that kind of Board of Directors? Also, I do think that working with Search Firms is entirely different and the association community is small enough that we virtually know all the players.

    I would use the photo sparingly thus is the reason I have 2 resumes. Flexibility is the key word.

    • The use of a photo is more of a legal issue rather than just a question of sensitivity. A photo shows gender, race and age (or rather perceived gender, race and age,) protected classes that no professional HR person wants to have implied had undue influence of whether or not the applicant was granted an interview.

      In fact, I was would argue that you WANT an HR dept/board to be explicit about not wanting photos nor access to your LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter or any other account that may show a photo of you as it indicates the organization is professional at every step of the search. That is not to say your social networks are not useful, but rather they serve as connections and networks for recommendations, not part of the actual application process.

      @Anthony the use of a photo is actually a higher gamble for the hiring organization than it is for the applicant.

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