The Sophisticated Art of the Resume: Success-Centric and Purpose-Driven
The pandemic has changed everything. The way we live, the way we interact, the way we eat at our favorite restaurants, the way we work, and most definitely the way we job search.
With such a significant increase in unemployment and people in the job market, applying for jobs and actually getting an offer has become even more of a challenge than before. But, don’t let that get you down! More competition does not minimize your accomplishments or value, it just means you have to market yourself to stand out among the (slightly larger) crowd.
That’s why we’re here!
Last year we sent out two polls to test our followers’ resume knowledge. Did you participate? We essentially asked you to compare two different resumes and judge which is more “success-centric” and then again for two other resumes to decide which is more “purpose-driven”.
These two critical aspects of writing a top-notch resume may seem obvious, but are often completely missing in the average resume. In fact, here at IsoTalent, we have realized that this is a major oversight in most resumes we analyze and it's an oversight that could make all the difference in getting the job or not.
What is a Success-Centric Resume?
A resume is the sales pitch you use to sell yourself and your career to a hiring manager. It’s your first chance to prove that you’re a candidate worth spending time on. And having a success-centric resume is all about effectively communicating your value as a candidate.
There are a lot of ins-and-outs of this, but it fundamentally means that you are portraying yourself as not only a “doer”, but an “achiever”. While giving a hiring manager a scope of your responsibilities within the role is important, this is not what will get you the job.
It is essential to highlight (in a bulleted list) your accomplishments within that role, using data and specifics to really show your impact within that role.
Let’s look at Clay Lewis’ and Kendra White’s resumes to see this in action.
At first glance, both candidates’ resumes look like a job well done. The color and formatting are above average and they would stand out in the sea of resumes hiring managers have to sort through. But once you start to read the bullet points under their work experience, it becomes evident that Kendra’s content is a mere overview of her day-to-day duties.
Even the bullets that seem a little more success-centric don’t give us an actual idea of her “wins” because they’re so broad and general.
For example, under her most recent work experience, she says that she “Managed international TA expansion; provided strategy for effective TA growth”. While this gives us an idea of what she did, we still don’t know what she achieved. She could modify this bullet to be more success-centric by attaching actual numbers to her claims of “expansion” and “growth”.
So, instead, she could phrase the bullet point like this, “Expanded international TA team by X% by implementing…” and then she could go on to explain the actual strategy used to catalyze such growth. In the eyes of a hiring manager, this adjustment to her work experience will identify Kendra as someone who could add key value to the prospective company.
When it comes to being success-centric in a resume, details and data are king.
With that understanding, when we contrast Kendra’s resume with Clay’s, the difference is very clear. Clay’s, while not perfect, definitely utilizes numbers and metrics to portray his wins and accomplishments. He highlights revenue and website conversion rates to communicate what he has achieved within that role.
The last bullet in his most recent work experience is another great example of success-centric-ness (not a word, I know), where he says “Created a product ad video that generated 500,000+ organic unpaid shares… also published on TouchofModern, Ladbible, Pretty52, Unilad, VAT19, Reddit, and more (no charge)”.
This bullet point references both metric-driven and non-numerical success and it is a very concrete achievement that markets Clay’s value extremely effectively. Any hiring manager looking for a Digital Marketing Specialist can’t dispute the value he brought to the company by creating successful ad campaigns.
What is a Purpose-Driven Resume?
Making sure your resume is geared toward a specific purpose or objective is critical for anyone applying for a job, whether you’re entry-level or an executive. Often, people make their resumes very general, not catering it to a specific job and industry.
Being purpose-driven all starts with a strong summary right at the top of the first page that clearly states who you are, where you’ve been, and why you’ll bring value to the company in relation to the job you are applying for and the industry that company is in.
This will help hiring managers immediately identify you as a candidate worthy of their time. Positioning is as well, because studies show that hiring managers focus in on the top third of the resume. That means that this portion of the resume needs to be well-utilized, with the most relevant and important information possible.
Then, as you use both job and industry-specific buzzwords, you will increase your ethos and the hiring will be more convinced that you know exactly what you’re talking about.
If we compare Benjamin Sellar’s and Lisa A. Lewis’ resumes, how do they fare in the purpose-driven department?
We wanted to make it a tad harder to identify which one was better, so we chose two resumes that are actually pretty decent! But the key in this comparison is the summary.
Benjamin’s resume is stronger from the get-go because he has a summary and Lisa does not. Although we can assume that Lisa is applying for a graphic design role (considering her experience and education), without a summary, we don’t know if graphic design is the career she’s continuing or what industry focuses she has had or any overarching career accomplishments that portray her value.
Benjamin, although his summary isn’t incredibly strong, does immediately communicate the role and industry he is targeting, while also highlighting an overall career accomplishment.
So… so what?
I know what you’re thinking. Some of these things seem minor, maybe even inconsequential and tedious. But trust me, it’s worth the effort.
Being in the recruiting field and surrounded by some incredible recruiters to learn from and having looked at A LOT of resumes, I can tell you these key points of a resume are a lot more important than you’d think. Consider the fact that hiring managers spend an average of 6-12 seconds on each resume they skim. Time that out and tell me how quickly those six seconds go by… if that were an in-person or video interview, you’d barely get through introducing yourself.
That’s why, especially in this crazy time, using success-centric and purpose-driven tactics to effectively and clearly portray your value is more critical than ever. And since a solid resume is your door into the interview process, you better make sure you’re selling yourself on that paper (or PDF file).
This article is third in a series of recruiting and HR articles from guest contributor, Austin Miller, founder and CEO of IsoTalent. While spending years in executive HR roles, private equity, executive recruiting, and consulting, Miller experienced first-hand the pains that come from never finding the right leadership centric search firm. As such, he decided to branch out and create IsoTalent, an experienced-based, high-touch executive search group that would get leadership placement right every time. Since its inception, IsoTalent has successfully filled hundreds of C-level roles as well as thousands of director roles, VP positions, and other tough-to-fill jobs. Miller will be contributing more articles on recruiting and HR practices in the coming weeks.
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