So You Want to Write a Strategic Resume?

An Article by Sharon Graham, CRS, CIS, CCS, CPRW, CEIP

If you have been speaking with a resume writer lately, you may already know that “Strategic Resumes” produce results. Rather than using a pre-determined template or formula, a professional resume writer will craft a one-of-a kind document. He or she will purposefully consider the inclusion and presentation of every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph in your resume. You can take advantage of this effective writing technique yourself. Develop a powerful document that will rise to the top of a stack of resumes.

There is nobody on earth like you. You have a unique blend of experience, skills, and accomplishments. Nobody else has exactly what you have to offer. Therefore your resume must be different from the rest in order to sell you effectively. So, just copying someone else’s resume format and content will not work.

A strategic resume distinguishes you from the rest. It is well thought out. Not only does the resume effectively represent you and your background, but it also meets your potential employer’s needs. Your goal is to highlight your specific qualifications, experience, and background in the very best way possible.

Have a Professional Resume Created For You!

The first rule is that there are no firm rules, only guidelines. There is no standard formula to writing a resume, although the typical formats “reverse chronological” and “functional”, may give you a starting point. Since you already know that you are a one-of-a-kind, use these formats as a reference, but be creative in highlighting what you have to offer.

Start by performing a personal inventory. Dig deep within yourself to identify your very best skills and accomplishments. Next, put on your prospective employer’s hat and think of what the company is looking for. Match these requirements to your list and identify your most valuable qualifications. Now, you are ready to write your own strategic resume.

As you write your resume, think strategically about everything. For example, if you are an experienced professional, you are selling your experience. It is unlikely that an “objective statement” will help you. Rather, put together a powerful professional profile to show the reader who you are and what you have to offer that the others don’t.

Question every section that you would like to create. Deliberately compare your educational credentials in relation to your experience. Which one is more critical in terms of the type of position that you are applying for? Consider arranging each category of your resume in order of importance.

In order to get your foot in the door, your resume must be read. It’s not how much you say, but what you say and how you deliver it. There are many ways to strategically make your resume readable:

  • Do not speak in the first person, using “I” or “me”. Rather, speak in the third person to present a more professional tone and create statements with impact.
  • Emphasise your abilities with powerful language, but be careful to cater to your reader. Rather than trying to use complicated words, use terms that he or she will “get”.
  • Make it easy for the reader to get through your document by writing concisely using active language rather than passive language.
  • Use keywords and key phrases that fit your background and are valued by your prospective employer.
  • Focus on accomplishments rather than responsibilities and start each accomplishment with a past tense verb to show that you have already achieved it.
  • If you must provide a long list of bullet points, arrange your accomplishments in order of importance, adding impact by ensuring that your final bullet ends with a bang.
  • List your computer or technology skills in one place. You don’t want the reader to have to work hard in order to figure out your hardware, software, or networking knowledge.

Once you have written your resume, go through the complete document. Deselect everything that does not add value. Only when you are absolutely sure of the content, should you start to format your resume. Rather than using a standard template layout, be creative. Use the advanced features of your Word Processing document to create a distinctive and professional look and feel. Take advantage of the attractive bullets, use bold for emphasis, accent areas with italics, and use the special line spacing capabilities that the application offers. And of course, highlight only the best of the best to stand out.

Finalize your resume in a format that is sure to be read. Prepare a copy in Word (.doc), Plain Text (.txt) and Rich Text Format (.rtf). This way, you can send your document to recruiters exactly as they would like to receive it.

By thinking and writing creatively, you will generate a superb resume that is true to yourself and will also attract appropriate employers. You will soon find that it is well worth the effort to design a unique and targeted strategic resume.

Have a Professional Resume Created For You!

Have a Professional Resume Created For You!

Sharon Graham is principal consultant for Graham Management Group, executive director of Career Professionals of Canada, and author of Best Canadian Resumes. Graham Management Group is known for excellence and innovation in resume, interview, and career strategy. Sharon assists executives, managers, and other experienced professionals through this leading career consulting firm. You can find further information and articles directly at www.GrahamManagement.com.

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