How to Create an Irresistible Resume

The purpose of a resume is to land you a job interview. Amazon.com has a million books about the best way to write a resume so you can achieve that goal. In my opinion, though, writing an impressive resume is simple if you keep a few things in mind. First, employers never read a resume in its entirety, and I’m willing to bet that the average resume gets read in about five seconds.

My father once told me that employers like numbers and statistics—hard facts that show how a candidate is directly responsible for making a company more profitable. Now let’s be real here. If you’re still in your early 20s, the chances are not very good that you are at a high enough level to have had sole ownership of a project. However, the chances are excellent that you have had some measurable impact along the way. Did you help with a project that drove company revenue? Was there any piece of that project that you alone were responsible for? Let’s examine how this strategy might work for a candidate who is pursuing her first corporate job, and also for someone who has worked in the business world before.

First Corporate Job

Let’s say you didn’t have corporate internships while you were in college, but you did sell ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for four summers. Maybe, while you were there, you helped the manager execute a campaign to draw in customers from a nearby shopping mall.

Original Statement: Passed out free ice-cream-cone coupons at nearby shopping mall.

Power Statement: Designed and distributed “Snack on Us” coupon targeted to mall shoppers, increasing store traffic by 25 percent.

See why the power statement is better? The original statement makes it look as though you were just a passive body handing out coupons, and the reader is probably thinking that anyone could have done that job. The power statement, however, reads as though you made a significant contribution to the Baskin-Robbins corporation by creating an innovative marketing campaign. Note that the wording of the power statement is still good even if you didn’t make the flyer all by yourself. If you had any creative input whatsoever, saying that you designed it bolsters the perception of ownership. The “Snack on Us” labeling also suggests that you were responsible for branding the campaign. With one statement, you have completely changed the reader’s perception of your role from ice-cream-shop cashier to small business entrepreneur.

Early or Mid-Career Move

Suppose you worked as an account coordinator in a large consulting firm. You were a member of a team that serviced a healthcare account worth $250,000 in monthly fees. Perhaps most of the real account work was left to the senior individuals on the team, but you were responsible for creating and managing the budget spreadsheets.

Original Statement: Created budget spreadsheets for healthcare account.

Power Statement: Managed finances for healthcare account worth $250,000 in monthly fees.

Maybe your contribution to this account was solely administrative. The first statement reads this way. The power statement, however, makes a reader think that you were responsible for managing an enormous amount of company revenue. It says to me that you are extremely trustworthy, and that you have a head for complicated finances.

As you can see, the words you choose to communicate your experience make all the difference in whether your resume is considered average or fantastic. With a little creativity and positive positioning, the most mundane tidbits of experience can become resume jewels.

What’s your best tip for creating an irresistible resume? Respond in the comments. The best suggestion will win an autographed copy of the brand new, 10th anniversary edition of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World.

 

  • Kendra Moroz

    Helpful tips, though still somewhat generic for really making an impact and portraying YOU in paper. I think portraying personality through design, type face, layout etc. as the most powerful/impacting aspect in my job search experiences. Standing out in design made hiring managers spend a longer time on my resume. Having a personal website listed (even if only a blog) has also significantly influenced more views on my linkedin and resume. Sometimes you also don’t get access to how your role influenced revenue or how budget fits in so while quantitative facts are useful, the other little things I feel work just as well.

    • PAUL FOREL

      Good points for young people, I make these exact same suggestions. Now, if my suggestion that high schools teach resume design were implemented, more kids would be ahead of the curve and in fact would be Selig opportunity for achievement vs. scratching their heads, wondering what to write in their resume.

    • PAUL FOREL

      Kendra, you are very much mistaken when you say Alexandra’s advice is ‘generic’.

      She has posted a formula for knowing when to recognize how to turn something passive into something active and in fact, most executive resumes use this model all the time, showing relevant metrics in the form of percent of change that equals a dollar amount saved or showing up as profitability.

      You need to get with the program and realize what she has said here is gold.

      Also, if you are in Marketing and/or Design, then I might agree that the ‘look’ of your resume is important but don’t think that design alone will get you a managerial or executive position down the road.

      All the “type face” and “layout” in the world won’t help you if you don’t have measurable achievements on your resume.

      You say that hiring managers spent “longer time” on your resume but how many Offers of Employment did you/have you received in response to their spending more time ‘looking’ at your resume?

      Not to be harsh but what you ‘feel’ is less relevant than receiving offers of employment.

      And, as to how to quantify your contribution, well, that is easy and you have apparently overlooked this:

      Simply ask your previous manager(s) for the metrics- an approximation will do inasmuch as ‘any’ percent of change and corresponding dollar amount will do vs. having no metrics and relying on a pretty resume.

      And, instead of thinking in terms of how these metrics are not obtainable, think in the future how you will be sure to ask to be advised by Marketing and/or Sales what the results of a campaign, etc. were and then calculate your percent of contribution.

      Your tone discounts possibilities and I caution you to be more open to that which you don’t know; especially when you might stop and realize those who are posting are in the business of getting people hired.

  • anntanne

    I created a QR code that is on the top right of my resume. It takes you to my Linked In profile. Will employers take out their smart phones to see where it takes them? Maybe not, but it shows that I am a little tech and marketing savvy. It has also prompted conversation from an employer who doesn’t know what it is and is dying to find out!

  • PAUL FOREL

    Good Advice, Alexandra!

    I push this same concept all the time.

  • Stephanie Kong

    I created a website and bought a domain. On my website, I have samples of work from all of my jobs as well as interesting stories from my time abroad. I list this URL on my resume.

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