Over my 20-plus years as a multi-certified resume writer, I have watched the format and content of resumes change frequently. Have you changed with the times? I hope so, because a dated or inferior resume will have little traction with a decision maker.
In the 90s, resumes used to have two sections entitled Profile and Objective. Today, if you use these two titles on your resume, you are instantly dating yourself. Yet since readers still need to see this information, about 15 years ago I created the term projective, by massaging together the two words from the 90s.
Let me take you on a journey through the content of an effective Projective section, which is placed in the top third of the first page of your resume, above the fold. It is in this section where you get the chance to create a competitive edge, seducing the reader into wanting to pick up the phone and give you a call as a premiere candidate.
What used to be called the objective I now call the directive, and that is the generic title of the position you are seeking. This is normally centered, in bold font, and in all capital letters, for example:
SENIOR SALES LEADERor SENIOR OPERATIONS LEADER
To customize this further, you can replace the generic with the specific title of a job posting you’ve identified as a good match for you, such as:
VICE-PRESIDENT, SALESor DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS
Underneath this directive should be a description of your personal brand written in 13, 15, 17, or 19 words, describing your unique promise of value, or your competitive edge.
The next section I include in my clients’ resumes is a block paragraph, six lines long, stretching across the full width of the page. This replaces the old Profile section, and includes these four elements:
The one word that best describes you
A description of your leadership and your communication styles
What you are renowned for in business (this should be different from what you described as your personal brand in the previous section)
Your core business competencies
Use the phrase “Core business competencies include:” and then depending on the design of your resume, use a table or column format, or a text pyramid. Here you are to portray the functionally specific keywords or buzzwords that relate directly to you and your talent, skills, industry and level.
How do you determine these? Try this visioning exercise: Think of your resume, and imagine what keywords you would need to type in to have your resume extracted from an ATS (automated tracking system) machine.
Wrapping this up, you are now approximately one-third the way down of the first page of your resume. There is still a lot more work to do in writing your resume, but this is a very good start!
Martin Buckland, Principal of Elite Resumes, is one of Canada’s leading authorities on highly effective resume writing, high impact cover letters, successful job-search strategies, executive coaching, personal branding, interview tutoring and social media career strategies. He has many years of training, experience, professional development and industry knowledge. Tap into his elite network of key human resources, executive search firm and placement contacts.