People make subjective opinions on what they see initially. Nothing wrong with that; it’s simply human nature to formulate conclusions based on visual content. When you walk inside a recruiter’s office, the hiring manager’s mind would immediately run through a series of generalizations based on what he or she sees.
However before you worry about what the hiring manager would think upon seeing you, the first area of concern is getting the invitation to walk through the recruiter’s door.
And that means what the hiring manager would think upon seeing your resume. Did you know that recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a resume? In this post I’ll tell you how to get your resume noticed by using power words that attract attention.
Best Words To Use In A Resume
Recruiters go through volumes of resumes every day. Finding the right candidates for the job is not just a matter of using keywords and tracking programs.
Recruiters have developed a special intuition that helps them identify which resume speaks volumes and which ones say nothing at all. For recruiters reviewing a resume takes them through a conversation with the applicant that runs along these lines:
“Who are you?”
“What made you think you’re cut out for the job?”
“What can you do for the company?”
“What have you done that merits consideration?”
“Why should we be interested in what you have to offer?”
A conversation is two-way communication; it is standard question and answer where a response is expected for every query.
But many applicants send resumes that say the same thing.
They use the same action words; “I was responsible for”, “I was tasked to”, “I was assigned to”.
They leave out important details; facts, figures and key statistics to keep the resume compact, concise and contracted.
Unfortunately, these resumes are perceived as generic. Everyone has copied the formula and submitted the same format. When your resume says the same thing, it says nothing at all. It gives formulaic answers to the questions that recruiters ask.
There is no communication; no conversation because your resume speaks only 1 way.
The response from the recruiter would be swift:
“Off to the filing cabinet you go.”
Your resume is the first point of contact with the recruiter. It must make a powerful first impression by firing off succinct, definitive and compelling answers to the recruiter’s questions.
In short, your resume must initiate a conversation and create 2-way communication.
Unlike visual content, in the case of your resume it is your value proposition that influences initial impressions.
If you have only 6 seconds to create an impression with your resume, you should give more thought, strategy and purpose to your overall value proposition.
Write Your Resume Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition is what you bring to the table. It is a clear cut statement on what you have to offer the company that will merit consideration for hiring you.
Here are key elements of an effective value proposition:
- It must be direct to the point.
- Your proposition must present relevance and irrefutable value to the company.
- It must be measurable.
Keep in mind that your resume is your career marketing tool. It should have the ability to sell what you have to offer. But your value proposition must be crafted as marketing copy without being perceived as hard sell. It should pull you in; not push your way through the recruiter.
Let’s take a look at these 2 examples:
“Business consultant for over 15 years. Managed key accounts and developed long term engagements through my expertise in Behavioral Leadership.”
“Business Consultant with over 15 years experience and chief proponent of Behavioral Leadership; I can help you navigate through economic uncertainty and profit while your competitors fall back. My clients from North America, South East Asia and Eastern Europe have generated an average ROI of 400% despite undergoing the most turbulent period in world history.”
Example A is a clear example of a generic value proposition. In fact, there is nothing in the statement that clearly defines value. The only response this type of statement will merit is, “So what?”
Example B goes for the hiring manager’s collar. It pulls you in and compels you to investigate further what the applicant is all about. The value proposition is well-defined:
- It must be direct to the point – “Business Consultant with over 15 years experience and chief proponent of Behavioral Leadership.”
- Your proposition must present relevance and irrefutable value to the company – “I can help you navigate through economic uncertainty and profit while your competitors fall back.”
- It must be measurable – “My clients from North America, South East Asia and Eastern Europe have generated an average ROI of 400% despite undergoing the most turbulent period in world history.”
At the core of the power of a value proposition is its purpose. In Example B, the purpose is well-defined and placed front and center, “I can help you navigate through economic uncertainty and profit while your competitors fall back.”
This statement will serve notice to the hiring manager you have qualifications that may have value to the company:
- Behavioral Leadership – “I have heard of this and how it has benefited companies that have right-fit issues and problems in organizational culture but I’m not sure how this works.”
- Average ROI of 400% – “I’m interested to see the high and low end ROI and how these claims will be validated through irrefutable proof.”
As you can see, Example B’s value proposition initiated conversation; it created 2-way communication.
This brings us to another key component of your resume; one that should be seamlessly integrated with your value proposition, your branding strategy.
Why Brand Adds Value To Your Proposition
Let us assume the worst case situations for Example B:
- There is no opening for a Business Consultant in the company.
- Candidate has clients; how will this arrangement work out for the best interest of the company?
In either situation, if you were the hiring manager would you risk passing up an opportunity to find out how some companies managed to generate 400% ROI in what has been, yes, one of the most turbulent periods of the world’s history?
After all, the interview does not mean the candidate has been hired. It represents the next stage in the hiring process. If the candidate cannot substantiate the claims or convince you of his value to the company, you are not obligated him or her.
On the other hand, if the candidate does leave an impression and establish the need for his value proposition then the possibility of opening up a position or a consultancy agreement may be worth pursuing.
The branding strategy was delivered with the value proposition when the candidate stated, “Clients from North America, South East Asia and Eastern Europe have generated an average ROI of 400% despite undergoing the most turbulent period in world history.”
When you deliver content that expertly defines what you could do for the company, you have encouraged the hiring manager to get off the chair, walk toward the door and invite you to come in.
In marketing, your brand defines your product or service. Retailers spend millions of dollars developing, building and maintaining their brand.
In a competitive job market, your brand is your key differentiator. It distinguishes you from the rest of the field that is competing for the same position. If you want your resume to stand out, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to craft the best branded value proposition you could present to the recruiter.
How To Develop Your Brand
Branding is your way of communicating your capabilities to your market. In the case of your potential employer, your brand answers the question “What can you do for the company?”
Review your work experience and ask yourself what your strongest credentials are; if you were to pinpoint your core competence, what would this be?
Once you have identified your core competence, identify a specific experience which proves without a doubt your expertise in this area. The experience must be the best representative of your expertise and should be substantiated by figures.
The next step is to summarize this specific experience into a single statement. You have to be as detailed as possible. Identify the main subject whether it is a person, a country or a company. There must be an entity that you can associate or link the recipient of your expertise to. Otherwise, the hiring manager may only view your statement as nothing but fluff.
Remember the intent of the branded value proposition is to draw the interest of the hiring manager to move your application toward the next stage of the hiring process. You can present more proof of your expertise and accomplishments during the job interview, but land that interview first.
Finally, if you are confident with your brand statement, integrate it with your value proposition.
5 Key Elements Of A Resume That Helps You Get Noticed
Your resume is more than just a piece of paper. For recruiters, the resume says a lot about the character of the candidate. The most experienced recruiters can create a profile of the candidate simply by looking at the resume; not even perusing through it.
Recruiters appreciate the thought process, time and effort that go behind the creation of a resume. If you are the person who buys a resume template from the local bookstore or writes one using a formulaic approach, do not expect much from your lack of thought and effort.
An effective resume is one that contains substance. It must contain elements that encourage the recruiter to dig deeper into the content. It must present high impact value to the recruiter and differentiate your application from the rest.
Here are 5 key elements that your resume should have:
- Value Proposition – “What I Offer Your Company”; Your value proposition establishes the need of your services to the prospective employer.
- Branded Statement – “What I Can Do For Your Company”; Identifies your core competence or expertise that would be of great value to the prospective employer.
- Supportive Facts and Figures – “Why I Can Be of Value to Your Company”; Highlights your willingness to back up and substantiate your brand. There is substance to your claims and if given the opportunity, you will present all evidences to support them thoroughly. Remember this: Figures monetize your brand.
- Key Differentiators – “How I Can Be of Value to Your Company”; These differentiators distinguish you from everyone else. Include qualities, skills, experiences and trainings that are highly relevant to the value proposition.
- Your Core Component – “Who I Am and Why I Fit into Your Company Culture”; There are more companies today that place greater importance on right-fit personalities over technical and fundamental competencies.
Exhibit A is Zappos. Founder Tony Hsieh does not hire people based on the strength of work experience and capabilities. He only wants to know how passionate the candidate is about online retail and shoes.
Your core component answers the question “Who Am I?” Companies want to know if you will fit their organizational culture. A simple one-line statement on what you are passionate about or what motivates you to succeed can speak volumes on your type of character.
If it seems that preparing a resume is a lot of work, it should be. This is after all, a competition.
In every competition, there will always be more losers than winners. Every time Michael Phelps won a gold medal in the Olympics, he generated 60 more losers.
If you want to win in competition, you must cover all the bases. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:
- Draft your resume on paper. Studies have shown that writing on paper creates a stronger link with your mind and body. You can write with more purpose and intent.
- Consult with the best minds. Contact your former employers or clients and ask for feedback on what they believe is your strongest asset.
- Test your statements. Once you have completed a draft of your branded statement, run it by associates and people whose opinions you trust.
- Test the strength of your resume. Once your resume is complete, you can test it via online software such as RezScore and Naukri Fast Forward. You should also ask for the opinion of a resource person with experience in recruitment.
The purpose of testing and consultation is to give you different perspectives on your resume. If you are viewing it from only your filter, you may not provide objective critique because there are biases you cannot overcome.
Eventually your resume will present a version that best represents your branded value proposition while maintaining your character and integrity.