Resume Writing: The Strategy of “YOU”


By Brent Warman.

In my experience as a Career Development Practitioner, I have found that certain clients are frustrated with the results of their job search activities. These clients say that they have sent out many resumes to employers, yet they do not get an invitation for an interview. Although they were well qualified for the positions where they applied, their efforts were in vain. Upon deeper review, I found that the resumes that these job seekers submitted to employers were general, not customized, and lacked focus.

Resumes do not produce jobs. Rather, the resume is like a calling card or marketing brochure used to get the client an invitation to the interview. The reason that your client may not be getting the call for an interview is that the skill sets and experiences presented in the resume are not appropriate.

Many organizations are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes without a human ever having to physically review them, and the resume without having the right key words simply disappears into cyber space. Even if the resume somehow gets through, it may not catch the attention of the hiring manager or the person assigned to short list applicants to call in for interviews.

What can be done to get results?

It is essential to get to know the client through evaluating his/her skill sets and experiences. This will enable you to work toward developing an effective resume. Here are some points to consider gathering helpful information:

  • What kind of positions, paid or volunteer, did the client hold? What were the responsibilities and the scope of the roles? What did the client accomplish in his/her roles? What aspects of the positions did the client like, or even dislike?
  • What education and training did the client attend or complete? What were some of the courses that the client took that could be relevant for the position that he/she is targeting? What courses did the client enjoy doing?
  • What hobbies does the client enjoy? What are some of the skills that the client has developed from the hobbies? Could the skills and experiences from the hobbies be relevant for the new position?
  • What are some of the personal characteristics/traits of the client? Are there any that would be advantageous to the position that the client is targeting?

The above questions get the client thinking about their value proposition, and how it can assist in developing a resume that produces invitations for job interviews. According to Sharon Graham, Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada, “the value proposition is the message you present to clearly tell the employer the reason that he or she should select you for the position.” In other words, “why should I hire you?”

Job descriptions and postings are helpful for the client in learning about the experiences, skill sets, and personal characteristics that would be involved with the positions that he/she is targeting. Another option is to perform information interviews with people already working in the field in positions where the client is considering working. Information interviews give the client the advantage of being able to ask questions in relation to his/her own unique situation. Although it is not an expected outcome from an information interview, the discussion could lead to a potential opportunity for employment in the future.

Evaluate job postings carefully before beginning the writing process to customize the resume. The job posting gives the client ideas with regard to important buying motivators through inserting important key words and phrases. Sharon Graham explains in Best Canadian Resumes, “buying motivators are the reasons that an employer will want to hire someone.” Employers look for employees who could save time, increase revenues, and solve problems. The client has a better chance of getting his/her resume to the top of the list for an interview invitation when the employer can have the buying motivators addressed by the candidate applying for the position.

Every client has something unique to offer an employer, and the position that the employer is looking to fill is unique as well.  So, it is important to note that the resume is not a static document, and it is a document that is constantly evolving and changing. Your client needs to customize and tailor the resume for each position.  It is about having the client’s value proposition connecting and meeting the needs of the employer’s buying factors that will get the employer to call him/her in for an interview.

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Thanks Brent for sharing such a informative article. Every employer needs a perfect candidate or a employee for the position vacant in the company and for this sometimes employers take the help of the recruiters or the clients. Now is the clients work to give a perfect candidate or make a resume in such a way that the employer shouldn’t waste his time in the resume, in-fact the employer should find that the candidate is the perfect match for the position or the job.

James – Thank you for your comments. It is essential for the client to customize his/her resume to meet the needs of the employer to be able to get an invitation to the interview. It is up to the client to present his/her skill sets in a way that would catch the interest of the employer.

A client who researches the organization can stand out from the other applicants. For example, a client might learn that the organization is considering doing business in a new country where he/she speaks the language fluently. Knowledge of the language where the organization is considering doing business would be an added value for the client to include on the resume.

Customizing resumes is a longer time consuming process than simply sending out a generic copy for every position, but the rewards are much greater and effective for the client.

Thanks for the post, Brent. You are absolutely right! Clients who say that they have sent out many resumes to employers show where they have gone wrong in those very words. As you say, the resume is a marketing document, a brochure, and while it may not produce jobs, it does need to show how the applicant meets the employer’s needs. Yes, it needs to be tailored to the specific position. Maybe that seems like a lot of work but if the applicant really wants that position, the work is worthwhile.
Job search is a full-time job, or as full-time as the applicant can afford to make it. But there is still not enough time to submit lots of applications. It is important to remember that it is usually the applicant who puts in the best overall application – resume, interview preparation, research and networking – who gets the job. And this takes a lot of time and effort. I urge my clients to focus on just two job leads at a time and then they can put in a winning application. It stands to reason that a job seeker putting in say 40 hours work into an application is likely to produce a better one than someone putting in only 10 hours. Two applications are more likely to get a job than 20 or 200. It’s the quality of each application that matters, not the quantity sent off.

Yes, it is the quality of the application rather than the quantity that bring better results in terms of clients getting called in for interviews. It does take more effort rather than creating a generic resume and sending it off to multiple positions. Job searching is a job in itself, and the client usually gets better results when he/she can organize time and resources well. The final result speaks for itself.

Excellent article Brent. Thank you for sharing. You’re right in saying that we have to list not just personal strengths but those that will be useful for the position.

Thank you Giselle. Yes, customization of the resume is a key factor that will help the client get the invitation to the interview. Clients do come in with so many personal strengths, but the employer looks for strengths that can be used to meet the needs of the position and the organization.

Great topic and information.

We always mention to clients,
It’s not about volume, but results….

The only job / purpose of a resume is to get an interview, if that happens the resume did it’s job, if not work may be needed.

We read entirely too many resume’s with applicants stating how able they are but forget to translate their abilities to benefits for the organization and position they apply for…..

By using the model of describing benefits to the organization in the body of your resume and cover letter one would show the organization that the applicant has done their homework and has great understanding how they will add value to the organization.

By doing so, most organizations would have to look at your application more seriously (and invite you for an interview).

Thank you Peter. I believe that the effort of the applicant to do his/her homework prior to applying for the position will pay off. Employers would appreciate the effort of the applicant to research the organization especially when he/she can relate his/her skill sets to the needs of the position in the body of the resume and cover letter. The information that the applicant has researched about the organization would be very helpful when meeting the employer in person for the interview.