If you have never invested in your career via having your resume or LinkedIn profile professionally written, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Sometimes it takes going down the path of applying for positions and not landing any interviews – or having a trusted college or professional recruiter tell you in confidence that it is your resume that may be holding you back – for you realize there is an actual ROI. However, more and more professionals are avoiding those uncomfortable situations by being proactive and planning their job transitions well in advance. I receive a lot of calls asking me about the value of having a resume professionally written.
The bottom line is when you retain and invest in your career, your resume writer becomes part of your professional support system, and you might be surprised by the benefits that can deliver. A really good, experienced and certified writer can:
- Help you by properly diagnosing the core problems you might be experiencing in your job search and dispel any areas you might have misdiagnosed so you do not inadvertently sabotage yourself in your job search.
- Help you identify your core motivations and crystallize your focus and goals.
- Create marketing documents for you that will help you land more interviews that align with your goals.
- Help you by stepping up the quality of your presentation which will improve potential employers perception of you and increase your value in their eyes; in other words, make you more money.
- A good resume writer can be the strongest ally, professional sounding board, and positive support in your core circle when times of transition are most critical. A good resume writer’s baseline of perspective is very accurate.
- It goes without saying that a professionally written resume gives you a distinct edge and advantage when working to naturally rise above your competition.
A few circumstances that come to mind when you should seriously consider investing in a professional (certified) resume writer include:
- When you are applying for government positions and filling out “KSAs.”
- When you are changing industries or attempting to move up in position.
- When you have any challenges in your job search that are really concerning you.
- When you need an edge. Generally, investing in a professionally designed resume ends up paying for itself and actually yields a bigger payoff. In many cases, having your resume professionally written is also tax deductible (check with your CPA).
If you look at my case studies here – you will see that quite often my clients write me to share they gained huge surges in income, among other benefits. Of course, every case is unique, but the odds are in your favor that this is a wise business investment in most any case.
When would it not be appropriate to retain a certified resume writer? If you really and truly don’t know what you wish to do next. A career coach is probably a better investment as they can help you identify your core skills and map out a direction.
What happens if you are a professional who has a great job history, lots of accomplishments, but you have a mediocre resume?
Well, often it means you hold yourself back from reaching your full career potential so that your compensation, level of responsibility and overall job satisfaction suffer.
Think of it this way: even securing interviews with a resume that just doesn’t cut it puts you in the challenging position of having to try to “sell up” from the “just okay” first impression your resume has already created for you in the eyes of the interviewer.
A smarter plan that will ultimately save you time, money and frustration is to start off on the right foot and create the best first impression possible. Here are ten steps to get you started:
Tip number one: start with a great heading
No, I don’t mean a one sentence objective or your current title. I mean two or three words that closely match your key skills, key industries or a combination thereof.
These grab the readers attention right away, so they need to be powerful, crystal clear and targeted. Check out my website for several samples.
Tip number two: make it stand out
A good design is eye-catching and professional. If you know basics in MS word (like how to create a shadow or a border), this should be easy for you to incorporate into your resume and cover letter. Be careful no to go overboard, though!
Tip number three: add lots of keywords
Keywords at the top of your resume that demonstrate both soft and hard skills help the reader separate out your strengths from your current and past employers. This makes it easier for the reader to connect with you and mentally “picture” you working with them!
Keywords also ensure the document can be quickly read or scanned to find a match between your skills and the target position.
Tip number four: bullet point your quantifiable achievements
Right at the top of the first page you should, if possible, lead with three to six bullets – each with a crystal clear sentence outlining your strengths.
Tip number five: spell out and BOLD your academic achievements Rather than writing MBA, write Masters of Business Administration (MBA), and BOLD your degree.
Tip number six: add the extras
Memberships, volunteer activities, certifications and training programs that are relevant to the position and industry you are seeking, should all be listed in your resume.
You can leave off personal information, such as family status, personal hobbies and statements such as “references upon request.”
Tip number seven: create an accomplishments summary
Under your professional experience, you should always call out your key accomplishments.
You can do this at the top of your professional experience (just group your accomplishments all in together) or as key points under each of your positions.
Don’t forget to BOLD your key accomplishments.
Tip number eight: create the right resume for you
Are you changing industries or building on the one you have been in for some time? Are you a legal professional or in academia?
Resume styles for these professions are all different, so make sure yours is the right style for your industry and/or position of choice.
Functional resumes are generally best for industry or position changes, chronological for staying in your industry.
Tip number nine: sell your present and past employers
Add a favorable sentence or two about each employer as you list each position (ex: ABC Company is a 50 million dollar provider of award-winning widgets with three divisions and 450 employees).
Tip number ten: quantify your accomplishments
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is communicating a menu of responsibilities without completing the story.
Employers want to know “WHAT HAPPENS” when you do what you do, so help them understand why they should hire you by telling them the results of your responsibilities.
Granted, these tips are just the tip of the iceberg, but making sure they are incorporated into your resume can make a difference in the quantity and quality of interviews you get!