Barbara Safani 3 Comments

This month my Career Collective colleagues are discussing tactics for giving your job search strategy a mid-year checkup. My tips for a resume checkup are below. Be sure to check out the sage advice of my colleagues as well by following the links at the end of this post. You can also view my video on resume tips for $100K+ professionals here.

In today’s challenging economy, job seekers will need to implement a strong self-marketing campaign in order to get noticed in a crowded job search space. That campaign starts with strong marketing collateral, particularly a quality resume that quickly gets their candidacy to the top of the resume pile. Below are five strategies for crafting a more powerful presentation of your qualifications to get noticed faster and accelerate your job search.

Create a Personal Brand
What comes to mind when you think of companies such as Apple, Google, and Nike? All of these companies have a strong company brand and employer brand and the mere mention of their name brings certain images of their value and market differentiators to people’s minds. It’s really no different for job seekers. They also need a strong brand and a clear and compelling message of value that tells employers why they should hire them. Every resume needs a profile or summary at the top to position them as a leader in their field and showcase their top achievements and brand attributes.

Lace Your Resume With Keywords
Every resume needs clear evidence that you are qualified to do the job you are applying for. Keywords are the words that validate your candidacy and help the hiring authority determine if you have the “must haves” for the job. By creating a special category for your competencies on the resume, you make it easier for your reader to quickly understand your areas of knowledge or expertise. Since both humans and computers may be screening your resume, it is important to list keywords in all the forms that they may be recognized by employers and computers. For example, if you were involved in mergers and acquisitions, use this term and the acronym M&A.

Focus on Accomplishments Over Job Tasks
Anyone can slap information from their job description onto a piece of paper and call it a resume (and many do). But the resume should not be a laundry list of “stuff you did.” Instead, it should be a marketing tool that proves your value to the organizations you supported. Discuss initiatives you led that helped the organization do something smarter, faster, or more efficiently. What impact did you have on the companies you supported? Can you show how you helped these companies make money, save money, save time, grow the business, or keep the business? Do you have metrics (numbers, dollar figures, percentages) to validate your achievements? To create your own accomplishment statements, use the CAR formula. Think of Challenges you faced in your position, the Actions you took to address those challenges, and the corresponding Results. By focusing on your stories of success over job tasks you can demonstrate to your reader not just what you do, but why you are good at what you do.

Just Say No to Cookie Cutter Resume Templates
Ditch the Microsoft template and create your own unique resume design. You never want to look live everyone else when you are applying for a job. The point is to create a one-of-a-kind representation of you as a candidate. Keep the presentation tasteful (no neon green resume paper!), but don’t be afraid to infuse a little bit of style or even color into the document. Use text boxes, bold, and spacing to call special attention to the most important information in the document and use space efficiently. You only have a certain amount of space to communicate your message (1-2 pages) so consider that space precious real estate and use it wisely.

Take Your Resume Past 1-2 Pieces of Paper
Traditional paper resumes will continue to be an important part of the hiring process, but Web 2.0 now plays a leading role as well. More and more recruiters and hiring authorities are “googling” candidates to review their online presence, so it is becoming increasingly more important to have a branded online presence and virtual resume that matches the one you are using to communicate your message of value offline. For right now, LinkedIn still appears to be the “darling” of the recruiter and hiring manager community. Recruiters and hiring managers are leveraging LinkedIn to find candidates because it is an extremely robust database. Take the time to build out your online profile/resume with information about key achievements and consider adding your LinkedIn URL to your paper resume or email signature line for greater exposure.  Additional tools that people are using to build both online identity and their network are Google Profiles, ZoomInfo, Facebook, Branchout, BeKnown, Twitter,  Plaxo, Spoke, Xing, Ecademy, Ziggs, and Naymz.

Your resume is an important part of your search strategy, but it is not the silver bullet. Make sure that you are using multiple methods of search to get in front of employers and not just relying on the job boards. Be sure to enlist the help of recruiters and your network. Research the companies you are interested in and try to build relationships with decision makers at these organizations even if there is not a current opening. Build out your profiles on the various online networking sites and don’t forget the value of professional organizations for education and relationship building. Happy hunting!

4 Summer Strategies to Step Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman, #careercollective

Putting Your Job Search Up On The Rack For Inspection, @dawnrasmussen, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: Are you wasting your time? @GayleHoward, #careercollective

What is your unique value proposition? @keppie_careers, #careercollective

It is Time for Your Check-up Ms/Mr Jobseeker, @careersherpa, #careercollective

Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You “On Your Game?” @KatCareerGal, #careercollective

How to Perform a Mid-Year Job Search Checkup, @heatherhuhman, #careercollective

Reposition your job search for success, @LaurieBerenson, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: What’s working and What’s not? @erinkennedycprw, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Check-Up: Getting Un-Stuck, @JobHuntOrg, #careercollective

Mid-Year Check Up: The Full 360, @WalterAkana, #careercollective

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues, @KCCareerCoach, #CareerCollective

Are you positive about your job search? @DawnBugni, #CareerCollective

Where Are The Jobs? @MartinBuckland, @EliteResumes, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup: Get Your Juices Flowing, @ValueIntoWords, #CareerCollective

When Was Your Last Career & Job Search Check Up? @expatcoachmegan, #CareerCollective


  1. Barbara – great suggestions all around! I particularly love your list of social media profile sites and the reminder that professional associations are valuable for education and relationship building with colleagues.

  2. Barbara –

    Spot on advice all around!

    It’s so important for job seekers to take their presentations to the next level. Time and time again I see job duties laundry listed in a templated Word document. Companies are hiring people with skills, not job descriptions. And, as you indicate, the success stories behind those skills must be showcased in unique ways across multiple platforms.

    This is a new, difficult and multilayered job market.

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