I just read a great post by Jonathan Fields over on Awake@theWheel about the 7 types of proof clients customers need before they will buy a product or service. And as I was reading, it struck me that his advice also applies to resume writing. All too often you read things like ‘looking for a job is a marketing campaign’ and ‘your resume is a marketing document,’ but perhaps it’s hard to know how to translate that vague principle into a new resume or job search plan.
Jonathan’s post gave me a chance to come up with some practical tips for doing just that. So here’s how you can turn your resume into a powerful marketing document using his time-tested sales principles.
Actual Proof/Track Record
The best assurance that you’ll add value in the future is showing that you have added value in the past. So emphasize results all the way through your resume. Don’t just say you have “an excellent track record of revenue and profit growth” – Prove it! Provide specifics. Pepper your resume with numbers. (And if the actual numbers are confidential, use percentages).
Here is an example of a resume that demonstrates an excellent track record and does it in a way that draws attention to the results. The key is in pulling out the results and bolding them. Note: this strategy only works if you have excellent results in every position.
Jonathan says “If you have any specialized training, degree, certification, license or other accreditation or qualification, share that pedigree as another touch point that demonstrates you know what you’re doing.” This applies to your resume just as much as to selling a product and it’s important to stress that pedigree upfront and not wait until the end of the resume for people to figure it out. This next resume is a perfect example. Because of the nature of my client’s profession, he wasn’t able to provide revenue or sales growth numbers. But he had an excellent pedigree and so we focused on that in his resume introduction. (This resume secured him his dream job and the secret is in that pedigree.)
If you have worked with influential people whose names are well-known in your industry, ask them for a reference. Don’t be shy about this! A recent client who worked in the video game industry provided me with a glowing reference from the guy who designed one of the world’s best-selling video games. We used that reference prominently in his resume and cover letter by quoting the best few lines from it.
Another way to use authority endorsement on your resume is to highlight awards you have won (for recent graduates, scholarships or school honors work just as well). Awards are solid evidence that someone in authority liked your work. Here is an example of a resume that uses awards as a primary sales pitch for the client.
This is Jonathan’s fourth point and when it comes to product marketing, we all know its true. It’s unlikely that you can get Tiger Woods or Bruce Springsteen to endorse your candidacy for that accounting job – and also unlikely that their recommendation would hold much sway! That said, I often use a version of this tactic when working with people in entertainment-related fields. if you can drop the fact that you have worked with names like Jay-Z, Lady Gaga or Oprah Winfrey into your resume, you probably will get more interviews. Partly because the fact you have worked at such a high-level suggests you are good at what you do, and partly because some people will just want to know what their favorite singer is like. (Hey, you use what you can!)
If you actually know a celebrity whose testimonial would add value, then go ahead and use them. Here is an example, where we used a testimonial from a US senator on the resume of a political cartoonist.
Another version of the celebrity endorsement is to drop the names of major companies or products . If you worked for top fortune 500 companies, or on several very successful products, name-drop those right at the start of your resume.
When selling a product, marketers often use testimonials from other users to convince you that the product is worth buying. You can do the same on your resume. Pull quotes from performance reviews, reference letters or LinkedIn testimonials and use them on your resume. One piece of advice though – choose testimonials that sound personal, believable and that are specific to skills needed in your target positions. Don’t choose generic or bland quotes. If it’s important to be highly organized in your next job, then choose a quote that speaks to that. And if it does it in a funny or interesting way, even better!
I recently had a client whose manager said “I continue to be disappointed with Sarah’s inability to clone herself.” I loved that! We used it right upfront in her resume and I bet it has been a big talking point in her interviews.
Here’s a resume that uses one quote prominently – a quote that focuses on exactly the skills needed for success as a video game producer.
Theoretical /Logical Proof
In some cases, you are the logical fit for the position but don’t have awards or numbers or degrees or quotes to prove it. In that case, just lay out the case for yourself in simple, clear and straightforward terms. For example, if a company is looking for a Project Manager to develop embedded software, you could just headline your resume “Senior project manager with 12 years of experience developing embedded software.” Simple but effective!
Jonathan describes metaphorical proof this way:
Here, you create an anecdote in the style of a metaphor where a person in a story endures a struggle or experiences a need or pain very similar to what your typical prospective buyer would experience. You set-up the problem and demonstrate the pain, then show how that person resolved their pain and solved their problem using your product, service or solution.
But how do you tell stories like this on a resume? Simple … just develop action-packed bullet points that demonstrate how you have solved problems/capitalized on opportunities for other employers. Check out this resume to see an example. Notice how we set up the situation for her first position (niche site with no room for growth) and then use the bullet points to tell stories about how she solved those problems.
When employers read stories like these, they can start to imagine how you would make an impact on their company, solve their problems, capitalize on their opportunities.
Use as many of these different strategies as you can on your resume and you will immediately see a difference in the response rate. What works for selling toothpaste works equally well for selling you!