As you’ve probably already heard, executing the art of compelling resume writing can be the difference between landing a dream job and simply crash landing into a sea of comparably boring applications. Maintaining a professional tone while avoiding the dreaded bland zone can be a delicate balance.
To create a compelling resume, start with the basics and consider the ABC’s of resume writing that will have employers’ heads turning.
A: Allow Verbs (Not Adjectives) to Tell Your Story
The use of verbs in a resume is an asset in your quest for the perfect job. While adjectives should be used sparingly (read: extreme moderation!), use concrete examples of accomplishments headed by verbs to describe your work history.
Too many descriptive adjectives can obscure and make your resume seem filled with fluff. Verbs, on the other hand, imply action and accomplishments. Effective verbs showcase what you have done and highlight ways you’ve turned challenges into successes without the story getting lost in a pile of pretty prose.
Make your resume writing more compelling by improving the effectiveness of what you say and how you say it.
Be strategic in selecting your text:
- Use a professional tone, not overly familiar but not stuffy either. (Bonus hint: Your tone should match your audience. If the company is ultra professional, your tone should be too. But if the business has a laid back corporate philosophy, craft your resume writing with verbiage to match.)
- Use a thesaurus and diversify your content. Repeating the same words can lower effectiveness – and make your resume seem flat rather than persuasive.
- Use active, powerful verbs that deliver your message with a punch. Stand out. Let your (fingers crossed!) future boss know that you are the one they have been looking for.
Note the extensive use of verbs (highlighted) in this resume excerpt.
B: Bland is Boring – And That’s Bad
Your goal is to stand out from the crowd. If your resume text is more boring than it is bold, that’s bad – and probably not going to open any doors.
Think about it this way. Advertisers spend millions of dollars every year creating commercials that grab consumers’ attention. They want to get as much use out of every dollar they possibly can. That’s why jingles are made to stick in your head, and loud voices and bright colors that are hard to ignore.
Similarly, your resume is an advertisement letting companies know that you are their best option – a credible candidate who knows how to garner results in challenging situations. You want the hiring manager to walk away from your resume humming the tune that says “this is the candidate I’ve been looking for.” Your resume writing is your jingle.
Your resume should tell a dynamic story of success, as shown in this excerpt.
C: Connect the Content
Employers typically put specific thought into their job postings. It only makes sense then that your resume should include some of the same wording used in the description.
Multifunctional, these connections (shown in your “challenge-to-action-to-results” scenarios) make your resume writing relevant to the needs of the company.
For example, if the job position calls for “agility and resilience,” your resume should draw attention to places in your employment history that clearly demonstrate those characteristics. Make the connection between your compelling content and the position you want to fill.
Do you know the employer is seeking a candidate who is a strong team leader and coach who has experience facilitating sales meetings and prioritizing sales opportunities? Use your resume to illustrate how you have used these skills for the benefit of past employers.
D: Do Your Homework
Knowing more about the company you are applying to gives dimension to the resume you create. Do your homework and learn some key aspects about the place you hope to work.
- Understand the history, founders, and key upper management, as well as the path between the early days of business to the present
- Get to know the company philosophy, what drives its success
- Familiarize yourself with relevant information that shapes your resume writing
Write a resume that is relevant to the prospective employer’s’ needs. For example, do you know it is a growing organization and you will have to build the department from scratch? Tell stories that illustrate how you have done that in the past.
E: Edit (Twice)
It cannot be stressed enough: a compelling resume means nothing if a potential employer discovers an error. Spelling mistakes and punctuation mess ups will put your resume in the “do not call” pile faster than it can make it to the printer.
Some of the most common (and essential) mistakes to look for include:
- Spelling: relying on spellcheck is dangerous. Read and reread what you’ve written, in particular noting proper names that a spell check may completely miss.
- Punctuation: some things don’t belong on a resume for any reason – like an exclamation mark. Be sure your hyphens, periods, and quotations are appropriately placed.
- Grammar: compelling resume writing knows proper grammar and uses it wisely.
- Formatting: the smallest format change can influence the overall look of your resume. Double-check that the appearance is consistent and highly professional from top to bottom.
Creating a compelling resume is a necessity for anyone seeking employment. If you are hoping to turn your bland and boring text into a resume showing your personality and professionalism, remember to use verbs, connect the content, do your homework, and edit until you’re sure it’s perfect.