JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

Why Today's Resume Needs To Be An Ad

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 12, 2012 4:41:00 PM

Image ad toyota corona sedan ad 2 67

Why the resume as ad? To borrow a phrase from the campaign, do the math!

  • 141 resumes submitted for each job (way too low an estimate IMHO)
  • Each recruiter manages ~22 openings at any one time (multiply times 141 for the number of resumes a recruiter has to process at any one time)
  • Only slightly more than a quarter of recruiters use applicant tracking technology; the rest have to visually scan resumes
  • Only 10 applicants on average are screened for a position *

So, do you think the thoughtful summary, job descriptions, and accomplishments on your resume are going to get read and that the material will prompt the recruiter to choose yours out of hundreds to be one of the 10 marked for follow up?? 

Here’s what I think, having been in the resume writing industry for 19 years now. Today’s resume – which has only 30 seconds to be reviewed by a recruiter – has to act like an ad. Look at an ad. What are some of the elements that make it work?

  • A brand - something that makes it memorable, the way Coke's brand helps it compete against Pepsi and generic colas
  • A tagline - to capture the essence or strong theme of the brand
  • Large letters to help the main message stand out, with smaller letters and fine print for critical details
  • A website to link to for more information on the product
  • A quote from someone or a picture of a famous endorser for the product
  • Color - eye-catching
  • Unique design and font - an ad tries to attract visual interest

It is possible, and even desirable, for resume writers to amp up their resumes with some of these elements. One way a resume should be different from an ad, though, is that white space, although necessary, shouldn't own so much real estate that there is no room for descriptions of primary accomplishments for each position.

(Please note: only a stripped down .txt version of your resume should be submitted where there is a chance that it will be processed by an Applicant Tracking System. Use your highly formatted resume for human eyes!)

With those points noted, let’s take an ad's elements one at a time and consider how you would build some of its successful features into your resume:

  • The brand you are looking for is your career brand/personal brand. It is your industry, function, value proposition, and differentiator(s).
  • A tagline is a short phrase that serves as a quick handle for people to remember you by: “The technologist’s instructional designer.”
  • Large letters: go for size 16-18 font for your desired position as the “title” of your resume and 14-16 for your brand and tagline.
  • A website link, or LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a resume – with a link embedded in the text towards the top of page one.
  • A quote from relevant third party to lend credibility, if you wish.
  • Color! Since most resumes are viewed online (laptop, smart phone, tablet), any color you select will help that part of the text stand out; use it for your brand statement and perhaps the main contribution in each position.
  • Font. Again, because most resumes are viewed online, you can be creative with fonts, design, and other visual elements, remembering to be more conservative for more conservative industries, such as banking, and more creative in marketing, design etc.

Click here to see examples of resumes that are a fast read with easy-to-grasp "reasons to hire." These are not extreme examples of the resume-as-ad and don't include every element of an ad, but they have enough to have attracted the interest of recruiters.

So don't hesitate to tap into the power of Madison Avenue to help your resume become one of the 10 selected by a recruiter for follow-up!

* Image attribution: Dell

** Statistics courtesy of HR Tech Blog


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Topics: career marketing, resume, resumes, resume format, color on resumes

Should You Include an Objective on Your Resume?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 29, 2012 3:01:00 PM

 image gatekeeper

If you look at resume from the nineties or earlier you will commonly see objective statements starting off resumes. They would read something like this:

Objective: A sales job where I can contribute to a company's growth while continuing to advance my career.

Do you want to write this kind of objective statement on your resume these days? NO! This kind of objective statement is an indication that you have not kept up with the times. Even more importantly, recruiters - internal and external - don't care in the least about the benefits you will receive - only the benefits their organization will receive.

Why write this blog post at all, since most people know not to write the old-fashioned kind of objective statement? Because there are reasons why including an objective on your resume is absolutely critical!

1. If you don't say right at the top what position you are seeking - the exact title - the recruiter may not spend the time to figure out which of the several titles you've held - or some other - you are going after! You have only about 120 seconds to provide the recruiter with a "fast match" between your resume and the open job. Make it as easy as possible!

2. If you don't include the position title you are going after - even if you haven't held that one exactly - software used to process resumes will likely not retrieve your resume in a keyword search by a recruiter. And all your time and effort on your resume will be wasted! With 70% of large companies using Applicant Tracking Systems, you can't afford to leave out a critical title keyword!

Here are a couple of examples of ways to use objectives in contemporary resumes. Give your resume a heading, often a title. That's easy if you are a VP of IT and those are the only jobs you are applying for. But what if you've been an VP of IT and you want to apply to a CIO job? You'll want to be sure that title and keyword are prominently featured in your resume. Here's an example:

Targeting: VP of IT / VP of Information Technology | CIO / Chief Information Officer

Under that title, put your branding statement, industry, areas of specialty, or key selling points, whichever is the most strategic. But by including the word "targeting" and the exact position title you are applying for you will allow the reader to immediately categorize you as someone at the right level. Including both the title you currently hold and the title you aspire to also provides you with the critical keywords for electronic processing of your resume.

To make it even more complex, if you are sending your resume to a networking contact and tell him or her that you are looking for the top IT management position in a company, you have to do something more. Since the top tech person in the company goes by different titles depending on a number of factors - such as the size and history of the company - you'll need to cover the waterfront:

Targeting: VP of IT / VP of Information Technology | CIO / Chief Information Officer | Senior Director of IT / Senior Director of Information Technology

That way you enable a "fast match" when a hiring authority or recruiter considers your resume for a particular job and job title. You also have provided the necessary keywords to keep your title options open. Notice that I spelled out "IT" so that either "VP of IT" or "VP of Information Technology" will capture search engine attention.

We've devoted a lot of time in this post to a small number of words on your resume, but they are critical ones. So think like a time-challenged recruiter and like a computer to increase your chances of being considered for a job!

Image Credit: clouducation.wordpress.com/


 

 

 

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Topics: resume, resumes, resume writing, sample objectives, resume objectives, resume objective

Is Your Resume at Risk? ATS Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 1, 2011 11:28:00 AM

Image Keywords

I spent an enlightening hour attending a webinar offered by Jonathan Ciampi, a former executive at an ATS (applicant tracking system) company. He has started a new business, Preptel, to help job seekers increase their odds of success. He talked about how ATS works and implications for your resume.

Putting his input together with other information about ATS, I've compiled the most important things to avoid in order to optimize your resume for search.

1. Format: Do not submit a highly formatted resume electronically. Stick to a simple format or save your highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file. Most ATS will scramble tables, graphs, and graphics, defeating your purpose in presenting them. Take your beautiful, creative resume to the interview.

2. Keywords: Don't assume that it is enough to include the common keywords for your position, level, function, and industry or the ones in a job posting! Many ATS will identify as keywords the uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases in the job ad. This practice cuts down dramatically on the number of resumes retrieved for consideration by the hiring authority or recruiter.

3. Headings: Most ATS will only recognize the common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and sometimes Professional Summary. Eliminate creative headings such as "Career Highlights." 

4. Sections: Extra sections - that is, those that don't have the common titles listed in #3 - won't be stored. So if you have information essential to your application, such as certifications, community activities, publications etc., I suggest you include it under the Education heading.

5. Contact Information: Leave it out of the Header and Footer sections. Put it at the top of page one. And do include both home and mobile phone numbers if you have them.

6. Process: Don't paste your resume into a field online. Rather, upload it if given the opportunity. Chances are better that the formatting will remain intact with this method.

7. Acronyms & Abbreviations: Don't rely on acronyms alone. Include the full language. For instance, don't use USPs for "unique selling points." ATS should process common acronyms correctly, such as BA, MA, and MBA, but may not process other tech and business acronyms right.

8. Keyword Use: Newer ATS recognizes keywords in proper context within a sentence or word group. Don't rely solely on a keyword list. Let the job ad be your guide about which keywords to use in context. You may still want to provide a keyword list at the end of your resume under "Education" to cover the bases.

9. Source: Don't neglect to indicate where you heard about the job. ATS tracks sources and ranks some more highly than others, such as employee referrals over the big job boards.

10. Job Description: Don't forget that the ATS software will be searching for the descriptions of your jobs. Many people have been leaving that out in favor of just achievements. Time to put them back in!

If you are like a lot of people, you probably wish that the resume you worked so hard on to make visually attractive and easy to grasp would be seen on the first pass. Unfortunately, it isn't even seen on the second pass. The resume you submit to most large companies and many small-to-mid-sized ones gets mined for data that then populates fields on a form that the HR employee or recruiter sees (not your resume). Your resume may in fact only be seen at the time of an interview.

One further thought on length. If you need to go longer to adequately communicate what you've done and integrate keywords into context, go ahead. The software doesn't care!

 

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Topics: executive resumes, ATS, applicant tracking software, resume, resumes, IT executive resume, keywords

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