Resume strategy is important. It sets expectations, follows a logical sequence of career growth and ensures the most compelling and persuasive information takes centre stage.
Many people don’t think about having a strategy for writing a resume. Usually, it’s a race against time; a kind of mad, knee-jerk reaction to meet a looming deadline for a dream job. Without thought, jobs are listed, education noted, the submit button pushed and the application is transmitted as the jobseeker breathes a big sigh of relief and hopes to get a call.
There is only one thing worse than no strategy.
And that is marketing yourself with a flawed strategy.
Incorrect assumptions of what should be important to a decision maker and pushing that same barrow from beginning to end, will only serve to reinforce a jobseeker’s misunderstanding not only of the job being sought, but of recruiters’ and employers’ expectations for a senior-level appointment. And that mis-step, can be a interview killer.
Let’s look at Marty. Marty is a marketing manager seeking to legitimise his leadership by taking the next step up the ladder. His expectations are sound. Based on the past two-to-three years, Marty has amassed the type of senior-level experience that will give him an excellent chance of being considered seriously for a big role. He’s steered mergers and acquisitions, acted as an advisor to Chief Executives, set marketing directions, orchestrated long-term growth, introduced ideas that have captured overseas markets, and transitioned start-ups into multi-million dollar performers. These are the type of skills and achievements that show that Marty is “playing in the big league”. Marty has not just worked in these key areas, but succeeded. He would, and should be, a candidate of choice.
So why isn’t his phone ringing?
Marty’s phone is not ringing as he has failed to position himself correctly in his resume. He has chosen to present himself as a hands-on person who can use PhotoShop and PowerPoint, create a flyer, work with the design team and brainstorm creative marketing ideas. He sees these skills as crucial to where he is today and believes it lends an ‘in the trenches’ credibility that wins the respect of teams. This view is not shared by recruiters who instead, see a marketing professional with a foot in both camps. To them, he seems unsure if he wants to be one of the guys in marketing, whether he is struggling with his latest leadership roles, or whether he’s a micromanager who needs to have a finger in every pie. They ask themselves, is he feeling nostalgic or is he concerned about his leadership strengths, because it is clear from the resume, that Marty is looking to the past. It is a strategy that is costing him a job and money.
Marty reasons that it if is important to him, it must be important to decision makers, right?
Marty has failed to understand the market for his services. He can market a product and launch it to multimillion-dollar global sales, but when it comes to marketing himself, he has made the worst mistake of all; he’s decided that the attributes he likes most about himself, are the same attributes being sought in the marketplace. He has entirely misread the “buyers” of his “product” and believes the more he tells them what he thinks they should hear, the more they will listen.
His resume strategy is not just erroneous but an act of self-sabotage. It’s worse than having no strategy at all. Marty wants people in the position of power to see the value of his ideas or bend to his way of thinking. Why should that happen? There are plenty of candidates who anticipate the market, place emphasis on the right skills to touch recruiters’ hot buttons and position themselves for senior-level roles showcasing vision, business acuity, and industry understanding. Far from drawing tenuous strings from PhotoShop and design capabilities that win the respect of teams, these successful candidates show how they can lead, set strategy and vision, and more important, deliver results.
A progressive journey is important in your career, but moving forward means looking forward. Many a stumble can be made on the road ahead if you’re too absorbed with looking over your shoulder at how far you’ve come.