Resumes that Persuade

A few facts to consider about resumes …

  • Resumes are no longer only historical in content but are documents demonstrating potential.
  • Resume writing requires a new mind-set of selling the facts vs. telling the facts.
  • Resumes no longer dwell only on the job candidate, but incorporate the employer’s perspective.
  • Resumes must convince the employer you are the one for the job in order to get an interview.
  • Resumes are targeted now and tailored to each employer’s position and organization.

In the highly competitive job search created by a difficult economy, the resume has, over time, become a marketing tool that includes brand statements, accomplishments and results, targeted headings, and well-selected information. It not only has to meet basic standards for resume writing, but must be artfully constructed to persuade (Ready or Not; The Art and Science of the Job Search)

The task of writing a resume is one of the main things that drive students to our office. It remains the hallmark of the job search, and although it is only one part of a strategic plan to find employment, it is one worthy of masterful attention and due diligence. It can be a source of great pride to view one’s accomplishments in education and past experiences in a completed, professional document ready for the rigors of employment seeking.

How can I accommodate the paradigm shift that has occurred as I begin writing a resume? We are in a time when things tend to shift quickly. By the time I figure out where something is located in the big-box grocery store, it has been moved to facilitate the marketing needs of the store and the product seller. By the time I figure out how to use a smart phone, they have brought on a smarter one … and on it goes. Resume writing is similar, except the change may be more pronounced. But with the standards in place, accommodating changes made necessary by the marketing side can be done, bringing an important outcome.

Starting with the standards:

  1. Formatting must be consistent throughout with a reasonable amount of white space. This makes it easier to read.
  2. Awareness of industry standards for resumes will help define the content and structure.
  3. Generally one page is standard unless there is pertinent information for two pages.
  4. Education and employment experiences need basic information: degree, school, city, state, date of graduation; employer, job title, city, state, date of employment.
  5. Within each category, the most recent experiences must be listed first.
  6. Use concise and meaningful word choices; grammar and spelling must be scrutinized.
  7. Having an objective at the top is optional but can be the focus of the resume if specific and done well.
  8. High school and personal information is generally not needed; contact detail is critical.
  9. Pay attention to the requirements of technology that surround resume use.
  10. Information must meet the highest standards of integrity.

Progress to the persuasion:

  1. Emphasize the most important aspects of your experience (Ready or Not; The Art and Science of the Job Search). Perhaps reorder to reveal the most important on the resume first.
  2. Connect the reader through use of skill language from what you did in the past to what you can do in the future (Ready or Not; The Art and Science of the Job Search).
  3. Link the requirements of the job description to what you have to offer.
  4. Carefully develop statements that capture the challenge you faced, the action you took and the results. Make accomplishments noticeable.
  5. Use traditional headings, but also use targeted headings that capture your experiences and what the employer is looking for.
  6. Brand statements are now used to help set one apart from the competition and to engage the employer quickly.
  7. Summary profiles are also typical now, but again must be focused on employer needs and worded purposefully and succinctly (not merely a list).
  8. Be able to provide a rationale for how the resume is constructed. This shows the deliberate nature of this persuasion.
  9. Create a compelling cover letter to go with the resume. This letter has become a valued part of introducing oneself to the employer.

In Career Services, we are engaged in the dynamic process of teaching your students how to market themselves well through the tool of resume writing. Using the above standards and persuasive techniques, students will do well in this resume construction part of the job search.

They will do even better if they check with us. We are well-equipped to help students through our Optimal Resume system, class presentations and personal conversations, all of which prepare them to have the competitive edge.

Bonnie J. Jerke, Director Career Services
Engage in Career Services, Envision Your Best Future
Stevens First Floor, ext. 2330