As a job seeker, you know you need to share your value with employers, yet you can’t seem to connect. A big reason for the fail is figuring out how to express why you are different, and better, than your competition!

There is A LOT of advice out there. Give your document to 50 people and you will receive 50 different opinions. And, that causes frustration.

You know you are GREAT at what you do. You are skilled, passionate, and have a tremendous work ethic. What isn’t clicking?

More than likely, it is your resume!

Done correctly, your resume should set you apart from your competition, help you gain control of your job search, and increase the numbers of interviews you land.

↠ Be bold and go beyond creating a cookie-cutter document that is filled with overused words and phrases.

Clarify Your Target: I know this sounds simple enough, but many job seekers fall into the trap of casting a wide net. They don’t want to narrow their search, but this is a mistake. Think of it this way: Your car needs the muffler replaced. Are you going to go to the shop that presents itself as the “expert in exhaust repairs” or the shop that presents itself as “we can fix your car?”

↠ Employers want to know that you are the expert in your field not that you can do it all.

Define Your Value:  After you have clarified your target, use the opening portion of your document to present the value you offer an employer. Who are you? Are you an executive strategist? A trusted strategic advisor? A healthcare executive powerhouse?  Again, be bold and go beyond using words and phrases everyone has seen time and time again (Innovative, Top-performing, Highly motivated).

↠ Align your skills and strengths with the needs of your target audience and then succinctly share who you are and the value you offer in an opening summary statement.

Include Metrics:  Potential employers already know the duties associated with a position; therefore, a resume that only presents “responsibilities” fails. Your resume needs to communicate the results from your actions not just the action itself. It looks like this, “Attained 99.9% service rating and saved department $X. 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.”

↠ To attract the attention of employers, you need to provide data from past accomplishments along with the context in which it happened.
↠ Front-loaded metrics help command attention and strengthen the argument for your qualifications.
↠ Well-chosen words and phrases provide the context in which the achievement happened and adds credibility to your experience narrative.

Key-Word Rich Content: HR personnel use scanning software or a digital database that checks documents for keywords that relate to the position they are seeking to fill. Documents that do not contain keywords, will not be reviewed by human eyes. Review your document to ensure your document will pass this initial “test.”

↠ Create a section “Areas of Expertise” or “Core Competencies” to group keywords together.
↠ Strategically place keywords throughout your document.

Contact Information: Make sure you include your phone number and a professional email address. Employers are not going to take the time to track down your contact information or call multiple numbers to reach you. Use the phone number where you can be reached the fastest (rather than both home and cell numbers).

↠ Review your email address for the appropriateness of a modern job search –
Partylikeits1999@email.com isn’t appropriate for today’s job search.

Versions: More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems) in the hiring process. Advancements in technology make it a necessity to have two versions of your resume. Although ATS systems can accept PDF files, Word or text (ASCII) documents, the text version is still the best version for electronic submissions. This version is plain text (no enhancements, tables, charts, or graphs) and holds it formatting thus ensuring readability.

↠ ASCII text version of your resume is a “plain” document that holds its formatting.
↠ The MS Word version is the presentation document you can print or attach as a file in an email.

ATS systems discard resumes when data is interpreted incorrectly so always take the time to align your skills, experience, and abilities with the needs of the employer; follow the directions of the job post, and submit the correct version of your document.

It is okay to write boldly and infuse your resume with engaging content that helps the reader understand who you are, the problems you have faced, and how you’ve delivered results.

Your resume still needs to be written clearly and succinctly, but, by making your story engaging, you will draw the reader in and compel them to act.

All the best in your job search!

Tammy Shoup is a career storyteller and professional resume writer who helps career professionals, thought leaders, rising stars, and high-level 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 advanced resume writer with 20 years’ experience writing words that change lives.