My view has always been that every person should be in the job-hunting game even though they may be happy in their current position. You never know when your current happy state will change and you find yourself looking for another opportunity.
It may be in sales or it may not, it really doesn’t matter. The point is you should always be ‘in the hunt’ and in order to do so, you need a résumé that stands out from the rest of the job-hunting herd.
Forget the boilerplate versions you find on the internet. They’re all the same and you’ll put the reader to sleep if they read it at all.
I’ve hired many people in my career and I’ve always considered someone’s CV regardless of the form it’s in, as the applicant’s moment of truth with me. If it blended into everyone else’s in front of me, I ignored it, but if it had an interesting side to it I was ready to lean in and pay attention.
Your résumé should be your own individual piece of art; unique and original — a piece of you — Roy, artist
It should absolutely not be the product of a template that millions of people use — a common and boring approach that says very little about who you are except that you are comfortable copying what the crowd does.
If you want to maximize your opportunities to impress a prospective employer, craft your résumé with these elements.
Make it custom
Your piece of art should be specific to each opportunity you are vying for; it needs to be unique to the position and organization you’re approaching. Using the same résumé to apply for a variety of roles in different organizations won’t work; it will miss the mark because it won’t talk to the differences between each potential opportunity.
The sales director in NIKE doesn’t represent the same challenge as the same position in Apple. The organizations have different cultures and values and their strategic game plans are a product of their particular circumstances.
Likewise, a marketing manager in any company is different in every way than a sales director, so why would you consider using the same résumé template to show interest in both?
If you are interested in 10 different jobs, you need to create 10 completely different masterpieces, each distinctively unique from the other in some relevant and meaningful way.
Declare your uniqueness
Each piece of your art should answer the question; ‘Why should you hire me and not the other 100 people who also applied?’
As I’ve said in other articles, the job hunting herd typically answers the ‘why hire me?’ question by trotting out their credentials and a smidgen of their skills and experience. ‘You should hire me because I have an MBA from ABC University and have great marketing and conflict management skills’ is a view that unfortunately gets claimed by most of their competition in the hunt for the same position.
To the person doing the hiring, this kind of response is not particularly useful because they want to know how you are different from everyone else; the same response will most likely find your art in the deleted folder.
You must declare what you and ONLY you possess that makes you stand out from everyone else who’s applying. “You should hire me because I’m the ONLY one who…” is the compelling way to separate yourself from the job hunting herd.
Dedicate time to creating the ONLY piece of your art. It will be the best investment you’ve ever made and it will open up career opportunities you never thought existed — Roy, ONLY-ness believer
Know their strategy
Have a section that shows you have studied and you understand the strategy of the organization you’re interested in and their strategic priorities. Knowledge of what the organization intends to do to thrive and survive makes your ONLY claim relevant; your claim of uniqueness will make sense because it is grounded in what the organization intends to achieve in the marketplace.
For example, claiming you are the ONLY one who has demonstrated experience in a specific sales discipline won’t easily resonate if the organization has a strategy demanding a merger and acquisition skill set.
Talk about their markets, competition and technology and that you have some ideas on how you can be successful. It shows initiative and understanding of who your target is.
Few job applicants spend the amount of time that this task takes to do it well. But it will make you different and I suspect the ONLY job hunter who does it. They will be impressed if you can talk their language.
Stress your skills that apply to them
Once you have articulated as best you can your understanding of the strategic game plan of their organization, you now have a context to talk about what you bring to the table.
This is where you can discuss the skills, experience and competencies you have that could make a positive contribution to the direction they are taking.
A game plan that stresses growth, for example, is the opportunity to talk about your marketing and sales expertise and your proven capabilities in building effective teams and product sales to achieve aggressive revenue goals.
Talk about what you’ve done
This section is focussed on achievements. It’s one thing to promote what you think your skills and competencies are; it’s another thing to emphasize what you’ve actually delivered in a messy and chaotic world that would be of interest to the hiring organization.
If you are a recent graduate with limited practical experience, discuss any lab work or projects that would relate to the challenges you’ve discovered the organization faces. The important thing is to create your narrative on what you’ve done that is relevant to the conversation.
Who cares about what you know. I want to know what you’ve done — Roy, tough interviewer
Your focus on what you’ve done should represent the overwhelming share of your résumé. Your narrative should be 80% on accomplishments and 20% on the more subjective (and argumentative) aspects of your persona.
The objective of your résumé is not to communicate what you think your skills and capabilities are. A résumé that actually works — measured by the number of job contests you actually win — cuts through the fog and fluffiness and defines exactly why you are the ONLY relevant person for the job.
It declares in very specific terms why you are the ONLY individual who has the proven skills and experience to contribute to the challenges the organization faces.