This is the 3rd post in my ‘How to Write a Resume’ series, you can read the other steps here:
It’s maybe the most important of them all.
Learning how to strategize your resume is the absolute #1 secret to opening doors and getting interviews.
What is a Resume Strategy?
Developing a resume strategy means sitting down and figuring out exactly what message you want to convey. Most people think of resume writing as documenting their career history but that’s absolutely the wrong way to think about it.
A resume isn’t a history paper – it’s a marketing tool. By developing a clear strategy, you can then shape a message that will sell. A message that will make recruiters and employers want to call you as soon as they read your resume. That’s what your strategy is – it’s the overarching message you want to communicate.
How Do You Settle on a Resume Strategy?
We’ve already laid the groundwork for your strategy in the first two posts in this series. So far, I’ve talked about how important it is to understand what employers need (“Feel Their Pain”) and also why you then have to fully understand what you bring to the table (“Work Out Your Value”).
To decide on your resume strategy, you simply put the two together. You look at your ability to add value and you match that to the needs of your target employers. Where the two meet, is your unique value proposition, and that’s the basis for your resume strategy.
So for a salesperson, the key message might be to show how much money he has made for various employers over the years.
A marketer might be targeting companies who sell emerging technologies, and therefore his strategy will be to position himself as the ‘emerging technology guy.’
A web designer might have identified her biggest strength as her ability to delight clients with her designs, and she decides this is what she wants to communicate.
This may all sound very obvious, but the mistake most people make is trying to communicate too many different messages in one document. Decide on your strategy and then stick to it! (By the way, it’s OK to have several different resumes, each with a different target audience and strategy in mind).
Translating Your Strategy Onto Paper:
OK, so you know what you want to communicate. Now you can make some decisions about how to do that. Consider the following:
- What will your resume headline say?
- How will you communicate your core message right upfront?
- What evidence can you provide (all the way through the resume) to support your core message?
- How might you use testimonials from performance reviews or LinkedIn to bolster your message?
- What career accomplishments can you highlight that will support your message?
- Are there creative ways to communicate your central message?
By keeping your strategy in mind as you structure your resume, you’ll have not just a boring career document, but what one of our clients called ‘a a strategic masterpiece.’
And more importantly, you’ll have a document that will press all the right buttons for your target employers and will therefore give them a compelling reason to pick up the phone and call you.
Louise Fletcher co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. She admits to being a ‘wordnerd’ at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written two books, and has been a featured expert for sites such as Monster, The Ladders and HR Guru.