Extracted from Getting THE Call: Executive Coach Reveals Job Searching SECRETS Employer’s Don’t Want You to Know.
IS YOUR RESUME COMPELLING
ENOUGH TO GENERATE A PHONE CALL?
In my last article, I addressed how you can ensure your resume is written in a language any employer will understand.
This article will address how you can create a resume compelling enough to cause the reader to want to speak with you.
Sounds pretty simple, right? But it’s not. Here’s what I’ve learned from being an executive Career Coach for more than 20 years.
WHAT DOES COMPELLING MEAN?
Think of your resume as a movie trailer. Is your movie trailer exciting enough to make someone want to see the movie? Is your resume compelling enough for someone to want to know more? Does your resume show your contributions to your leader’s PCF/BOE goals, the solutions and the full range of skills you bring, or how your transferable skills apply to any industry?
If not, then why would any employer in their right mind want to waste their time talking to you? Do a better job of selling your knowledge, skills, experience, achievements, attitude, and relationships than you’ve done in the past!
Note: When building your resume, don’t tell me what you were responsible for – no one cares! Instead, tell me what you, or your team, actually accomplished, finished, or made happen. What got better because you were there?
Any Compelling Resume consists of these seven levels:
LEVEL 1: HEADING
This is exactly the same process I used to build my client’s (John Brown) new resume, from top to bottom, one level at a time.
1111 Windsor Drive, Summit Mills, AL 68654; 913.123.9876; email@example.com
If your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, go to Yahoo or Google and sign up for a free email address with your name only. You want to project a professional image. Details matter!
Boldface and enlarge your name to make it stand out. Use a phone number that you’ll actually answer and change your voicemail to a more professional message, if necessary.
LEVEL 2: POSITION TITLES
I asked John what position title he was seeking (right from his Focus Statement). He wanted to be a Design and Build Architect.
Design and Build Architect
Most resumes have an Objective paragraph, which doesn’t specifically state what you want to do. These titles come from your search Focus Statement. Clearly, state what you want to do. Don’t let the reader guess what you want to do.
LEVEL 3: KEYWORDS/BUZZWORDS FOR SCANNING
Since John had no clue what his keywords/buzzwords might be, I did a quick web search for a generic job description of an Architect. Buzzwords can also be assumed, if you know the industry. If you were the employer, what would you be seeking?
Ensure you own these keywords/buzzwords because the employer will verify that you do.
Keywords tend to be action verbs or transferable skills that come directly from the job description and are used to explain your achievements.
Buzzwords are industry-specific qualifications, skills, or terms including degrees, certifications, job titles, computer lingo, industry jargon, product names, company names, and professional organizations. You can also identify buzzwords by visiting company websites and reviewing job postings.
Employers often search job banks looking for resumes with keywords/buzzwords or requirements specific to their job description. Including more keywords/buzzwords throughout your online resume will increase your chances of being identified as a potential match. Also, use keywords/buzzwords in any description of yourself which most job sites require.
Be careful with Acronyms and Abbreviations:
Every industry has their own unique set of jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations; the special language that only industry insiders understand. Unfortunately, not everyone reading your resume will understand them, especially if you’re applying for positions outside your industry. A good rule is always to define your jargon, acronym, or abbreviation the first time it appears in any document.
As an example, in John’s original resume he had ICF and SIP. In his final resume, you’ll find Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), and Structure Insulated Panel Systems (SIPS).
The importance of the Job Description:
There are two types of job descriptions; the generic job description from a web search to give you keywords for adding to your resume and the employer’s specific job description found in job postings (which is used for applying for posted positions and for interviewing). From searching the web for Architect Job Description, I found the following generic job description:
Researches, plans, designs, and administers building projects for clients, applying knowledge of design, construction procedures, zoning and building codes, and building materials: Consults with client to determine functional and spatial requirements of new structure or renovation, and prepares information regarding design, specifications, materials, color, equipment, estimated costs, and construction time.
Plans layout of project and integrates engineering elements into unified design for client review and approval.
Prepares scale drawings and contract documents for building contractors. Represents client in obtaining bids and awarding construction contracts. Administers construction contracts and conducts periodic on-site observation of work during construction to monitor compliance with plans. May prepare operating and maintenance manuals, studies, and reports. May use computer-assisted design software and equipment to prepare project designs and plans. May direct activities of workers engaged in preparing drawings and specification documents.
Verify ownership of your Keywords (action verbs) and Buzzwords (industry words):
My next step was to sit down with John and asked him which keywords (bolded above) and buzzwords (in Blue above) from the above job description truthfully belonged to him. I told him that during the interview, the employer would attempt to verify if he truly owned those keywords.
To prove that you own them you’ll need some form of documentation (diploma, certificate, transcripts, and past performance reviews), or a great story to tell to convince them, or a personal reference from your past that can confirm your resume.
John carefully selected about 30% of the keywords and buzzwords from the job description. I then added them to John’s resume, Level 3. In the end, these are the keywords and buzzwords that John could easily substantiate.
This is what it looked like when I added it to his Compelling Resume:
Project / Project Manager / Plan / Design / Coordinate / Estimate Costs / Administer / Construction / Architecture / Architect / Engineer / Scale Drawings / Contracts / Client Review / Obtain Bid / Award Contract / Monitor Compliance / On-site Observation / CAD / Prepare Drawings / Zoning / Building Code
LEVEL 4: MARKETING SUMMARY
At this point, I began to write John’s compelling marketing summary. The purpose of this paragraph is to entice the reader to read the entire resume. I took the information from his resume (not much help) and from the two pages of notes I took earlier (as part of his resume assessment questions), and this is what I created.
Career professional with a Master’s degree in Architecture plus sixteen years of experience working with Albertson’s, JE Dunn, Turner Construction, Walton, Raul Construction and as a business owner and entrepreneur. Key leadership roles in Food Store Management and the Residential and Commercial Construction industries.
Career Track: Professional growth as Assistant Store Manager, Construction Superintendent, Entrepreneur, and Home Improvement Business Owner.
Utilized principle-centered leadership in managing multiple projects consisting of technical teams and subcontractors and developing partnerships and programs. Strong track record of increased responsibility, planning, designing, streamlining business processes, with excellent “word-of-mouth” customer satisfaction. Demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit that increased sales and profits.
Proven Record: Skilled at negotiating, estimating, budgeting, scheduling, monitoring compliance, on-site inspections, contracts, and conflict resolution. Consistently exceeded company standards for quality of work and completed requirements on-time, under budget, with excellent client reviews. Completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture at Alabama University concurrent with running his own home improvement business as an entrepreneur, taking 18-21 credit hours per semester.
How many years of experience do you have? Within which industries have you worked? What were your job titles? This is just a snapshot.
Note: I added John’s keywords/buzzwords in this level as well.
LEVEL 5: EDUCATION & TRAINING
This level is straightforward. The only problem I had was clarifying what all his abbreviations meant to the common person; me.
Education and Special Training
Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Architecture from Alabama University, School of Architecture
Computer: Drafting (AutoCAD), Modeling (SketchUp, Revit), Graphics (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign), MS Office (Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint)
Construction: Carpentry (rough and finish), tile work, paint finishes, interior shading systems and floor plans for both spec and custom homes. Knowledgeable of building codes for AL, WA, and CA
Note: I added more keywords/buzzwords throughout his resume.
What special knowledge or training do you have that would make you stand out? Most resumes show education and special training last, which often gets overlooked. Here, John’s education, computer, and construction skills are listed separately and positioned in the middle of the resume (not at the end) to make it stand out more. The construction paragraph above actually summarizes John’s experience and relates directly to architecture.
LEVEL 6: ACHIEVEMENTS AND SKILLS
The information for this level again came from John’s resume, my two pages of intake information and a list (below) of the most sought-after transferable skills on the planet.
These are the most sought-after Transferable Skills (action verbs):
Led, Managed, Directed, Supervised, Coordinated, Facilitated, Administered, Created, Produced, Implemented, Communicated, Introduced, Presented, Planned, Trained, Designed, Engineered, Prepared, Reviewed, Streamlined, Estimated, Solved, Decided, Coached, Mentored, Inspired, Executed, Assessed, and Researched
Based on my 21 years of experience, these are the transferable skills for which employers pay the most money. After I explained the list to John, I asked him, which transferable skills do you own? Have you ever used these skills? From this list, he selected the following, which I added to Level 6:
Led, Managed, Supervised, Coordinated, Inspired, Trained,
Mentored, Streamlined, Communicated, Solved,
Administered and Implemented.
Then, I asked John if he could defend these transferable skills and achievements with either some form of documentation (diploma, certificate, transcripts, and past performance reviews), or a great PAR story to tell to convince them, or a personal reference from his past that can confirm his skills.
With this information, I prepared to write his Selected Achievements and Skills, Level 6 adding his transferable skills and keywords.
Selected Achievements and Skills
Managed the successful completion of a $250,000, one-month, detailed, motorized shade installation project for the Ransom County, Taylor Museum of Contemporary Art. As a subcontractor with JE Dunn, coordinated with numerous stakeholders including museum owners, electricians, architects, and other subcontractors, completed the project ahead of schedule, under budget, with outstanding client reviews.
Led the efforts of 95 associates, as the Assistant Store Manager, for a $2.4 Million per month Albertson’s Food Store in Sacramento, CA. Inspired team cohesion, improving performance and moral. Trained and mentored team members to enhance their professional development and improve customer service.
Supervised and conducted on-site inspections to monitor compliance which consistently saved money by getting the job done right the first time and eliminating costly rework. Streamlined procedures and operations to achieve more in the same amount of time.
Skills: Strong written and verbal communication skills. Personable and capable of working with all levels of management and technical leads. Proficient in problem-solving, implementing complex solutions, scale drawings, contracts, obtaining bids and administering complex projects. Results and customer focused. International travel includes Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Note: I added more keywords, buzzwords, and transferable skills above.
Suggestions to develop your achievements:
Start each achievement with an action verb in the past tense (managed, led, and supervised). After the verb, tell your quantifiable results (with numbers!), include PCF/BOE related information, and include the details (PAR stories) that show how difficult it was to complete.
LEVEL 7: CAREER OVERVIEW
The final level is a very important level even though it appears to be just a work history. It serves a valuable purpose; to diminish your liabilities. With a chronological resume, it’s much easier to find flaws in your resume. The last ten years is what the employer needs to see. Going back more than 10 years may make you look too old.
This format diminishes the adverse effects of several liabilities.
It doesn’t highlight liabilities like age, lack of career progression, most of your work experience in only one industry, or gaps in work. The content that precedes this level is so strong that any adverse effects are minimized. You’re still providing the same information, but in a way to highlight your assets and diminish your liabilities.
Alabama University – Graduate Student, 2007-2011
John’s Home Improvement Company, AL – Owner, 2004-Present
Schmidt Construction, WA – Construction Superintendent, 2002-2004
Albertson’s Food Stores, CA – Assistant Store Manager, 1994-2002
WHAT DOES A COMPELLING RESUME LOOK LIKE?
To view a copy of John’s one-page, Compelling Resume, click here.
Did this process strengthen your resume?
If you did all the above to the best of your ability, you should have a resume compelling enough to make your phone ring. If not, go back and do it again – until you do. Use the same process to create your own Best Compelling Resume from top to bottom. Just make sure it speaks PCF/BOE (from my previous article).
I challenge you to share this information with others because the only way to truly own knowledge is to give it away; one of the great paradoxes in life.
Is Your Resume Compelling?
How do you know for sure?
In my next post, I’ll focus on how to create your three special purpose resumes (one to post on Job Sites, one to use for advertised jobs, and one hard-copy for networking) to assist you in your job search.
Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you need more help, learn more here.