Make your team stand out: Resumes & profiles that shine
As an individual, a resume is the most common tool used to efficiently tell a story about who you are, where you’ve been, and what skills you’ve developed. Your goal is to stand out from the pile by highlighting your best traits. You can’t rely on your cover letter to make you shine, because employers will likely only read the cover letters of a select number of candidates. Your resume needs to capture the best you have to offer.
As a small business, when you’re pitching a new client, it can be challenging to demonstrate the wide range of experience and skills your team boasts. Team profiles can help tell that story, highlighting relevant expertise and demonstrating past successes.
But if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of hundreds of resumes or profiles, you know that they quickly become overwhelming and start blurring together. Employers might be reading resumes in between meetings, while on the phone, or over lunch. At the end of the day, their goal is to hire someone aligned with the job posting in terms of skills and competencies, and aligned with their team culture. But they have no time to comb through each one and assume the best in everyone. Any small mistake can quickly lead you to the discard pile.
Here are a few tips to make sure you remain competitive when developing your resume or profile.
Know your audience
Any form of communication always involves at least two parties: there’s the person or entity communicating the information, and there’s the receiver of said information. When you’re engaging in any sort of marketing, pitching, or storytelling, the first thing you do is think about your audience. You need to know who they are, what they care about, and what they’re looking for to be able to tailor your message to their ears.
A resume or profile is no different. Before you make any changes to it, think about who you are sending this to, what they are looking for in an employee or service provider, and how traditional vs. innovative they are as an industry.
Some industries have very specific guidelines when it comes to resumes, and won’t appreciate outliers. For example, certain government agencies won’t take a second look at your resume unless it starts off with a “Core Competencies” section. Others, such as marketing agencies, invite innovation and creativity and therefore will be impressed if you take the concept of a resume and play around with it to reflect who you are as a person.
Do your research. If you have contacts within the field or organizations you’re hoping to break into, reach out to them for best practices.
It’s hard to talk about “the basics” of a resume because there are so many ways to approach writing one. You’ll find endless amounts of competing advice online about what to include, and in what order, whether you should cap it at one or two pages, or if you should use colour or not.
Again, a lot of this will depend on your audience and industry, but there are a few basics that apply across the board:
Including power verbs in your resume is paramount. Power verbs make it clear to the reader what actions you took in your roles, and they force you to write concise and direct sentences.
Some examples: Coordinated, Executed, Orchestrated, Organized, Planned, Designed, Developed, Established, Spearheaded, Launched, Hired, Delivered, Amplified, Accelerated, Achieved, Revitalized.
Job postings are your best friends. They are what the employer is communicating to you and have been written using very particular language. Everything flows in order of importance and was included for a reason. You don’t have to speak to every bullet point, but you better touch on as many as you can. Otherwise, it’s akin to having your friend get into a detailed and informed conversation about quantum physics, only for you to respond with a comment about the weather. You’re missing the mark and wasting your and their time.
By the time you’ve written the final version of your resume, the job posting you’re applying to should be covered in yellow highlighter. Don’t hesitate to pull out keywords from the posting and insert them right into your resume. Speak to them and explain how you’ve demonstrated these skills.
Once again, employers are receiving hundreds of resumes, and they have a goal and a timeline. They need to work through that pile efficiently, and you need to help them do so. Above all else, make sure your resume is readable. That means making all of your sentences concise, clear, and to the point, and it also means ensuring that your design is not too busy or loud. If there’s no breathing space and your text is hard to read (small fonts, no margins, no paragraphs), you’ll end up on the discard pile before the reader gets to your name.
Take it to the next level
Once you’ve figured out your audience and covered your bases, you can take it to the next level with personalization, flair, and design. Again, only do so if you know it will be well-received by your audience.
You can use tools like Canva to get you started with some easy designs, or you can invest in a more personalized resume by hiring a designer. Don’t limit yourself to the categories that traditionally appear on resumes. Think about who you are and what your journey has been to get here today. What stands out? What’s different from other stories?
Some of the more creative elements we’ve seen have been “Fun Facts” sections harnessing numbers (for example: 10 -- Number of countries I’ve lived in; 3 -- Number of languages I speak), infographics, maps pointing to all of the places someone has lived and worked, or QR codes or shortened urls leading to relevant online documents.
This all may sound overwhelming and time-consuming, but writing your resume is, in essence, writing a story about who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve come to learn, and most importantly, what you offer. This requires a deep degree of self-reflection, and an ability to present it so that it makes sense to someone who’s never met you. You will have to invest time, creativity, care, and attention.
Do you want the job or not?