It’s been said that on average it takes six seconds for a recruiter to make a decision as to whether to pass your resume forward to a company or a hiring manager or to classify it as a “do not recommend.” Although there are many opinions and no research findings to substantiate the type of resume format that will generate the most interviews, in my opinion, whatever format gets you in the door is what is best for you. Just look different than everyone else!

stand-out-from-the-herdIn my experience as a current Career Transitions Coach and former Hiring Manager and Recruiter, the best resumes show the reader quickly and concisely “what’s in it for them.” In other words, set your brain dial to the station: WIFT (What’s In It For Them?), then think like a customer. Why would someone be drawn to you? What kind of a return would they get if they hire you? How long will it take for them to realize the return on their investment in you? How are you showcasing yourself differently than others who may have similar skills and results?

Today’s job seekers must think like an entrepreneur and create a strategy and marketing collateral that “hooks” the reader right away. The long detailed resume that lists years of experience is not getting the reader’s attention any longer. They don’t have time to read and interpret it. It is the translation of how your experience will generate solutions to today’s problems, using today’s skills to create the WOW factor.

In addition, you want to ensure that what you are selling about yourself is relevant to what your target audience is seeking. This may mean tweaking your resume for different jobs, or using a cover letter that connects your background and results to your target audience’s needs. If you don’t know whom you are targeting, you will not be able to speak in the language of your customer and grab their attention.

Once you decide who your target audience is, then research will help you to understand their pain points, so you can write a solutions-based resume addressing their specific issues. This must be done in a style that makes you stand out, is simple, eye-catching, unique, and easy-to-read. It could be a hybrid of a Functional and Chronological format if you are trying to sell skills and results versus selling your former job titles, previous companies and industry experience. Try different styles and see which style generates the most calls for you.

Getting the offer has nothing to do with your resume format or its content. It is about getting in front of your customer and verbally bringing your resume to life. Resumes should generate conversation and your conversation should generate offers.

How can you hook someone into reading your resume and calling you? Start with a brief yet memorable summary of you at the top of the page – two sentences is ideal. Highlight your areas of expertise that are relevant to the job, and then focus on how you use your expertise and skills, adding specific results you’ve achieved or will achieve that match your target audience’s needs. For example, if you are a Human Resources Professional whose specialty is in start-up, you might say something like: “I benefit start-up or existing small and mid-size companies in realizing their ROI in the areas of compliance and staffing, while protecting the company’s top and bottom line. Under my Human Resources Plan, I have helped companies double their sales, pave the way for expansion and realize an increase in profits by 10%.” In highlighting your accomplishments and the goals of your role, you show your potential customers that you’ve solved the kinds of problems they are dealing with now, and you are distinguishing yourself from your competition.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: a company creates or maintains a position on their organizational chart because they have a need that is not being met with the existing staff or roles. In the example above, the company has grown in size to require a dedicated team to handle Human Resources issues, which, in time, will improve a company’s performance in their attainment of their top and bottom-line goals. Remember every role in a company must have a purpose and must generate ROI or the role will be eliminated or absorbed by other roles or technology.

Should you decide to hire a resume writer or a career coach, make sure they have a collaborative process that includes many formats that mirror the authentic you, as no two people perform and generate results exactly the same way. Remember, you are your own brand and the more involved you are in the branding process, which includes writing your resume and other marketing collateral, the better your results will be and the more you will stand out from the herd.

Grace M. Totoro is a Lead Coach with OI Global Partners.

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