It’s a new year with a fresh start and new goals. If one of your goals is to find a new job, you will need a resume that conveys your unique career story with power and authenticity.

For your resume to take you where you want to go, it not only needs to articulate your strengths, accomplishments, and unique value, but also help you stand out from the stack on the hiring manager’s desk. Many job seekers hurt their job search by copying and pasting together their summary statement, keywords, and, ultimately, another person’s brand message. Samples and templates are a great way to get started but you need to take the time to define your own value and craft a message around your unique accomplishments!

Don’t Duplicate. Be Different. And, You Will Shorten Your Job Search.

By building a resume that is forward-looking, speaks to the employer’s pain, and is visually balanced and compelling, you will be setting yourself apart. Why? Because, most job seekers still use templates and copy and paste information from other sources when creating their resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Rather than copying another person’s brand story …

~ Communicate the Value of You. Many job seekers begin their resume with an objective statement. Replace the old-school objective that is focused on what you are seeking with a value statement that gives the reader an overview of who you are –your top skills, experience, and accomplishments.

~ Focus on Outcomes Not Tasks and then Provide Context. If you’re like most job seekers, you are relying on your job title and associated duties to tell your career story. Revise your experience section and place the focus on your accomplishments. How? Ask yourself, “what happened after: Example: What happened after I developed and implemented a disaster recovery service  > answer: The company saved $1.5M and we attained a 99.9% service rating.  > context: managed complex restructure of IT service cycle, etc.

 It looks like this … Up-leveled IT performance attaining 99.9% service rating and saving $1.5M: Managed complex revamp of IT service cycle, including development and implementation of disaster recovery solutions, removal of redundant services hosting, and introduction of healthcare continuous service assurance.

~ Concisely Highlight Your Skills and Experience. Job seekers tend to include text dense paragraphs, long lists of responsibilities, and every job they’ve ever held. Your resume should provide the reader with a snapshot argument of why you are a viable candidate and not tell your life story.

Your finished document should summarize your value and key qualifications, align your work experience and accomplishments with the employer’s needs, and highlight your education. The reader should be able to skim the document and easily find pertinent information –proving you can solve their problems, save them time, and/or make or save them money.

~ Ditch Those Overused Phrases, Fonts, and Templates. The typical job seeker uses a template and Times New Roman font to create their resume. The more modern approach weaves content with visual appeal to create a compelling story and gives the job seeker greater odds for success. The typeface you choose should be easy to read (print and on screen) and universal (so it works on any computer system). Steer clear of unusual or script-style fonts and run-of-the-mill templates.

A Business News Daily article identified Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Garamond, Georgia, and Helvetica as some of the top font choices.

Adding a visual element will help reinforce your value message by providing the reader with a snapshot argument for your candidacy. Type enhancements (bolding, italics, lines) and colored text are also great ways to guide the reader to key points throughout your document.

You know you are great at what you do. You know you have something unique to offer … why would you want to sound exactly like everyone else?

When it comes to your career, you can’t afford to waste valuable time by using a cookie-cutter, black-and-white, resume to get you where you want to go.

As always, my mission is to help YOU build your authentic brand –one that will put you ahead of your competition and help you gain clarity, confidence, and control of your job search.

Be Bold & Set Yourself Apart,

Tammy Shoup is a Certified Master Resume Writer and career storyteller who helps career professionals, thought leaders, rising stars, and executives create branded resumes that demonstrate their unique value, engage their target audience, and give them a competitive edge in their field. She is a multi-certified and has 20 years’ experience writing words that change lives.