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Marketing yourself in the job search

Your resume is a marketing document and needs to persuade your reviewers that time spent with you will be worthwhile, so please take the time to detail your success.

At ThirdQuarter, we have seen literally thousands of resumes and cover letters and LinkedIn profiles.  We have also reviewed hundreds of publications and advice on what the ‘ultimate’ resume should look like and what it should include.  So much so that we are as confused as most job seekers and even more so for job seekers who have not created a resume in many years or are suddenly in the job market and wondering what in the world is going on. 

In the next several weeks we are posting the best of the best advice that we have encountered and the best advice that is right on target for 2015-2016.  Even the best advice from 2008, is not really relevant given the rapid pace of technology and the part it plays in the job seeking market.

To kick start the series, we have put together this simple 8-minute guide to creating your resume. It'll take you 8 minutes to read, probably an hour or two to implement and will reflect years of experience and abilities. 

You shouldn't be relying on your own typing skills to market yourself

The recommendations below are for a job seeker with 10 to 25 years’ experience. For those people with fewer than 10 years, they are likely better off with a 1-page resume, for those with more than 25 years and at very senior levels, three pages may be appropriate. But seriously, if that's you, you shouldn't be relying on your own typing skills to market yourself.   Our emphasis is on quality of the content and not so much on the number of words in a resume.

As with any "do-it-yourself" project, the key to success is to not get in over your head. So the instructions below are a simplified version of the best advice we have found that is tailored to be achievable by you on your own.

The Goal of Your Resume 

First, the goal of your resume is to get you an interview for the job. You may believe your resume has other purposes such as:

1. To showcase your every achievement
2. To justify why you're changing jobs
3. To explain why you've left so many, or so few, jobs in your career
4. To mention when you received promotions, awards, or recognition
5. To describe the size of organization or team or budget you had responsibility for
6. To land you a job offer without an interview

Unfortunately none of those are the goals of your resume. Most recruiters will spend 6 -10 seconds on the first pass glance of your resume.

The goal of your resume is to get you the interview. You get the interview by persuading 3 layers of reviewers that time spent with you will be worth more than time spent with another candidate.These 3 layers are -- screeners, recruiters, and hiring managers.

You'll persuade those reviewers by providing quantifiably proven results that you can do the job very well.

Resume length and structure

Your resume should be composed of a professional summary and a chronological detail of your professional success.

Your contact information should be at the head of the resume that includes a professional sounding email, a current phone number where you can be reached and your address.  Your educational background should be at the bottom of the resume.  Please double check your phone number and email  - we have encountered a number of instances where this was entered wrong and we are unable to be in touch with a job seeker.   

Professional Summary

Your professional summary is a separated list of two or three lines that summarizes your professional ambitions, background, and talents.

You should include 12 -15 phrases of two or three words each in this section. On your resume, you should begin this section with the three or four job titles you want most, and then intersperse the skills and successes.

Professional skills: List 4 to 6 skills that you possess that are important to your success in the job you are looking to land.  Theses should be skills you currently possess and should be "level appropriate". I.e., don't list skills that are obvious or would be assumed for your level. If you're applying for C-suite jobs, listing "time management" or "presentation skills" would be far too junior to mention in your summary.

Examples: Agile Development;Software Architecture;Engineer Recruiting;Technology Innovation

Descriptions of your past success: list 3 to 6 phrases that describe your demonstrated past success. Any types of achievements or attributes for which you have received recognition are appropriate.

Examples: President's Club; Top-producing Salesperson; Exceeds Quota; Consultative Selling Expert

Chronological detail of your professional success

In this section we encourage you to provide a chronological detail of your professional success, starting with your most recent job first.

Detail your success. Do not merely list your past job titles or duties. Do not describe your staff composition or budget size or administrative systems used.  Employers are looking for success, impact and confidence in your ability to look forward using experience you have.

Your resume is a marketing document and needs to persuade your reviewers that time spent with you will be worthwhile, so please take the time to detail your success.

The Bullet Point Formula is next.  Click here to read about it.