If you’re readying your job-search materials (resume, bio, cover letter, critical leadership initiatives addendum, networking card, etc.) for an immediate launch after Labor Day, here’s a quick primer on enhancing the power of the linchpin in the career document lineup. More than anything else, two key things are essential in your resume: The Qualifications Profile (summary, career highlights, whatever you name it at the top of your resume, right below contact information) … and the "stories you tell" (vis a vis CAR-story format: Challenge - Action - Result … and, importantly, IMPACT!).
Here’s a brief look at what these two components do for you. Your Profile section should be as targeted as possible to the needs of the hiring organization (explicit - if you have an ad, a lead, info that tells you what they are actually seeking … or implicit - based on your due diligence, inside leads, industry intelligence) while communicating very clearly your distinctive brand, the value you offer. Most effective today is careful selection and placement of keywords describing the position by title/level that you are qualified to fill - matching how the organization titles folks holding the role(s) you want to fill backed up by key areas of expertise that align with, again, their needs. A few examples of what you do best should be integrated (and backed up elsewhere in the resume with the salient details) into the profile. Resist the urge to include an Objective - these are considered passe. Instead, with targeted keywords and a profile that hones in on exactly what you have/that they’re seeking plus a dynamic cover letter, you’ve communicated your objective.
Moving on to CAR stories: Describe the situation you faced or challenge presented to you … discuss the initiatives or actions you took to address the problem (briefly — each CAR story should take up no more than 3-4 lines of concisely written copy on your resume with some additional space devoted to 2-3 sub-bullet points) … present the results (quantified wherever possible using numbers, percentages, statistics) … and - lastly - detail the impact it had on the organization, overall success, positioning for future success. Strive to produce three or four CAR stories for each of your most recent positions. These are the key talking points on your resume and they should present a broad cross-section of your capabilities.
Now, does your resume past the test? Can you quickly see the brand you present in your profile section? Does each position listed on your resume brim with examples of leadership, success, and results — and, most importantly, compel the reader to contact you?
– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage