Articles & Tips: The Top Secrets of Expert Resumes in 2017

Top Secrets of Expert Resumes in 2017

By Steven Provenzano, CPRW / CEIP, President: ECS & DTP, Inc.

Author: Top Secret Executive Resumes, 2nd. Ed., (Cengage), Blue Collar Resumes, 2nd Ed. (Cengage) and Top Secret Resumes & Cover Letters, the 2nd. Ed. ebook for all job seekers (ECS & DTP, Inc.).

These days finding that new – or better – work situation means keeping track of job listings, networking, tracking leads, scouring the internet, analyzing potential employers and scheduling interviews.

It can all seem overwhelming, especially since so much depends on the attention and response of others. However, there’s one aspect of your search over which you always have control: the content and design of your resume.

Only your resume gives you total control over how you’re perceived by potential employers, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a passive job listing with subjective information about how you’re a great and wonderful person (which of course you are).

Instead, it can and should be a high-impact career marketing piece that takes full advantage of the paltry 10-60 seconds of attention most resumes receive. When a resume is truly well-written, it can then become your source of excellent, trimmed-down content for your LinkedIn profile, when used primarily to outline your professional skills and business experience.

Yet even published authors and top executives have trouble writing a decent resume; they tell me, “my resume isn’t perfect, but I’ll explain myself in the interview”.

There’s the catch: You may be the perfect candidate for a position and still not get the interview, for no other reason than your resume. Resumes are typically used to ‘weed out’ people from positions. During my tenure as Corporate Recruiter, we created three stacks of resumes: Yes, Maybe, and No Way. whomever was left in the ‘Yes’ stack might be called for an interview – the others, of course, were tossed out or filed.

The bottom-line? What employers want to know from each person “sitting” on their desk is: What can you do for me? How can you fill this job effectively? Why should I talk to you over everyone else? Here’s how to get them to call you, and not the other candidate:

Create a Profile/Skill section to leverage your Keywords

Your resume must pre-digest, develop and market all your relevant information about transferable skills and abilities in a keyword Profile/Skill section – at the very top of your resume.

You don’t need to label this 2-3 inch deep section “Profile” or “Skills”, but it’s comprised of 3-4 bulleted sentences that develop your essential skills and abilities relevant to the job you’re seeking right now. It is not a re-hash of your job history or education. Rather, it’s the value of your job history, education, volunteer or military experience – positioned right after your name and a basic TITLE related to the type of work you’re seeking.

Keywords used in your Profile/Skill section can be as basic as sales, marketing, client relations, target marketing, project management, staff training, budget planning or forecasting.

Once you have these items, group similar words together and list your level of proficiency, for example:

> Skilled in sales, marketing and new business development, including full    responsibility for account acquisition and management.

> Proficient in total project management, from technical staff training to product design, development and rollout in major national markets.

> Comprehensive experience in finance, accounting and C-level audits, including strategic planning, team training, quality control and client relations.

The Profile/Skill section gives you total control over how you’re perceived by employers. Without this section, you’re basically a victim of your work experience and education, and what if your most recent experience isn’t related to your current career goals?

Market actual business talent – and avoid the fluff

Steer clear of pointless, catch-all phrases such as “Self-motivated, hands-on professional with an excellent track record of…” Let’s face it. The first two items in this sentence could be said about almost anyone. As for your track record, let the employer decide if it’s excellent by reading about your abilities (on top) and your duties and accomplishments (under the Employment section).

Your Profile/Skill section must be based in solid, objective facts – derived from actual experience. If it’s subjective or contains ideas that can’t be verified through education, volunteer work or business experience, you’ll lose your credibility.

Using a TITLE

Think of a basic Title for the top of your resume. This is typically very brief, just two to four words: SALES / MARKETING or ACCOUNTING / FINANCE, or something as simple as EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP. Give the reader some idea of where you’re coming from, and generally where you want to go, without blocking yourself from consideration for other positions.

Employment and Education sections

All items in your resume must consistently verify, support and quantify what you’ve stated in your Profile section. Help the reader actually see you at your last position by spelling out daily duties most relevant to your career goals. Describe how many people you supervised or trained, explain types of clients you work(ed) with, products demonstrated, computers utilized, and most important, quantifiable results.

What are/were your achievements? Give facts and figures like budget amounts, or how much you saved the company over how long, awards, recognitions and so on.

Research the company’s brochure, annual report and job advertisement, if any, and tailor your resume as much as possible to the position.

Avoid the ubiquitous “References Available upon Request” at the bottom of your resume. If employers really want references, they’ll ask you. Consider “CONFIDENTIAL RESUME” at the top of your resume, and/or state this in your cover letter. Always respect the reader’s intelligence!

Although up to 75% of all positions are filled through personal networking, an excellent resume can open doors all by itself, and is still required in many networking situations. Of course, a brief cover letter should be targeted to the hiring authority whenever possible.

Yes, you need a great Cover Letter

Contrary to popular believe that “No one reads a cover letter”, research tells us that up to 65% of all cover letters are indeed read by potential employers. They like to get a feel for your personality, career goals, motivation for seeking a new position, and what makes you different from other candidates with similar skills and experience.

Tell employers what you know about their operation, and why you want to work specifically for his/her company. Make them feel like they’re the only person getting your resume.

Final thoughts

Consider this: a resume that’s only slightly more effective than the one you have now could help you get a job weeks, or even months faster than your old resume.

Resume writing is an art form in itself, and there are few hard and fast rules. You need a complete, professional job search strategy, and your resume must be a key part of that strategy. At my company, ECS: Executive Career Services, we provide a free resume review and quote on our services, and you’re welcome to send us your materials. We look forward to hearing from you, and happy hunting.

Steven Provenzano is a Certified Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP), Career Coach, former Corporate Recruiter and author of nine career books, including Top Secret Executive Resumes, 2nd. Ed., (Cengage, 2012), Blue Collar Resumes, 2nd Ed. (Cengage, 2012) and Top Secret Resumes & Cover Letters, the 2nd. Ed. ebook for all job seekers.

He and his staff have written more than 5000 resumes for clients worldwide. He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, WGN, Fox Chicago News, ABC/NBC in Chicago, on numerous radio programs and in newspapers such as The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and Crain’s.

His work is endorsed by Chicago Tribune Career Columnist Lindsey Novak, and top executives at firms such as Motorola. For a free resume analysis, send in confidence to Careers1@Execareers.com. Toll free: 877-610-6810 or 630-289-6222.

Today’s Top Secrets of The Expert Job Search

By Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP

Author: Top Secret Executive Resumes.

Every day I talk with top professionals and executives looking for a better job. But deep down, they know they want more than a job – they want more fulfillment.

They need to see a greater value and satisfaction in the 40-50 hours of brainpower and expertise they put forth every week. They have excellent skills and experience in their industry, but now they’re faced with finding a new position, or expanding their career, and have very little background in that department.

They all ask the same questions: “Where should I start? Whom should I talk to? Should I just start calling recruiters?”

Finding a job is a job in itself.

It all starts on the inside: Step back, do a gut check, take a holistic approach and ask yourself:

1. Why consider a job search in the first place?

2. What’s really going to make me happy on the job, 40-60 hours a week?

3. What trajectory do I want my career to take?

4. If I start a search, what are the first steps to take?

#1: Why consider a search at all?

This is your key to success because it targets your motivation. In Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life (Zondervan), he says you need to get right with God. This cuts to the core of your spirit, your personal dream, and your overall satisfaction.

Is it all about money? (hint: that’s almost never the case). A greater career challenge? Are you stressed out or just tired of your boss and the working conditions…or are YOU the boss and just bored with the industry, the company or the people around you?

Write down a few keywords or sentences about your real motivation and level of commitment. How much time are you willing to spend creating a resume, learning & conducting internet research on target companies, calling them personally and doing personal networking? Will you keep track of your calls? How long can you be unemployed?

#2: Can You Get Some Satisfaction?

At this very moment, what do you want to DO with your life? What are you lacking in your current position, and what’s going to really satisfy you on the job, regardless of job title, industry, location or money? We hear “Life Is Short” all the time. Yet most of us are content to remain in our comfort zones.

Only when that becomes unbearable do we reach out for advice and support.

Don’t let your pride or ego prevent you from working with a certified career coach.

Coaches can prove invaluable in helping you come to terms with where you are and where you really want to be. They can assess your current value in today’s marketplace, and help create a plan to get you a position that will maximize your talents.

For many, it’s a chance to stand up and help others; you discover whole new challenges. You meet new people, create new relationships, and find greater value and substance to your days, and that’s priceless.

#3: The Big Picture

Take the long view; don’t be afraid to dream and imagine greater possibilities, meet new challenges, and make a positive difference in the lives of others. This is your trajectory.

Talk it over with your spouse, good friends you trust, your Pastor, or co-workers who can keep a secret. Don’t rush this; take some time and sleep on it. Think out of the box. I built a career helping others with their careers, yet certainly never thought I’d do it for 20 years and write six books on resumes and career marketing.

#4: Strategy and Execution

OK: So you’ve done some dreaming and pictured yourself in the ideal opportunity; how do you get there? Get online and search for job descriptions; talk to anyone even remotely related to the position or industry.

When you’re sure about the skills you want to use, sidestep the fear and market your abilities. Track down the names and numbers of key players to contact and line up informational interviews to learn about the job market, their company direction, their challenges and how you can help them. Such interviews can lead to job offers, it happens all the time.

Studies show only 5%-10% of jobs are filled through internet job sites and bulletin boards. Many executives at our Career Workshop spend hours online seeking the perfect job. But Personal Networking is the single most effective approach to finding – even creating – the ideal opportunity.

In fact, up to 75% of all positions are filled through Personal Networking: people who know people.

Real networks are created one call at a time, one person at a time. It can be slow and frustrating, but it does work. A good career coach can help you perfect the skill of calling companies and creating a 30-second elevator speech of your best value and benefit.

Some Final Thoughts:

A job search is your chance to assess where you are right now. We all know life is short, and no one else can make it meaningful for us. It’s up to us to get right with God and move forward with greater confidence and determination. It’s up to us to use our gifts to add greater impact and meaning to our lives, and the lives of those around us.

Seize the day.

Steven Provenzano is a Certified Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP), Career Coach, former Corporate Recruiter and author of nine career books, including Top Secret Executive Resumes, 2nd. Ed., (Cengage), Blue Collar Resumes, 2nd Ed. (Cengage) and Top Secret Resumes & Cover Letters, the 2nd. Ed. ebook for all job seekers (ECS & DTP, Inc.).

He and his staff have written more than 5000 resumes for clients worldwide. He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, WGN, ABC/NBC in Chicago, on numerous radio programs and in publications including the Chicago Tribune, WSJ and Crain’s.

His work is endorsed by Chicago Tribune Career Columnist Lindsey Novak, and top executives at firms such as Motorola. For a free resume analysis, send in confidence to Careers1@Execareers.com. Toll free: 877-610-6810 or 630-289-6222.