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Do Your Resumes Deliver it ALL?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 5, 2020

You’re a master at transforming what your clients tell you into CCCAR (Challenge, Context, Comparison, Actions, Results) stories. That’s usually hard work. In this article, I’ll introduce simple ways to rapidly add enormous impact in every résumé you write.

More than 25 years’ experience proves this approach works for every client you will serve from now on. It doesn’t matter how much experience she has. It doesn’t matter which career field is his. It doesn’t matter whether they are targeting in the private, public, or not-for profit sectors.

This method is easy and relatively quick. But, before I show you the advantages, know it works best when you gather information through direct conversation. As your clients give you the information you need, you’ll be able to judge their communication styles and word choices.

Prepare your client for this phase. Tell him you’re going to develop impact just from the factual framework of his career. You won’t be discussing responsibilities or performance yet.

You’ll ask lots of questions. Some won’t apply. Tell the client not to be concerned. If you don’t ask all the questions you might miss something important. There may be times

when the client doesn’t know the precise answer to some of your initial questions. Reassure him there is no rush to find the details. You can add the correct information later. Begin with the client’s name. Many go by something other than what appears on their birth certificates. When you include how they like to be addressed, you’ll save two parties potential embarrassment. Here’s an example.

The client’s “official” name is John Ed Matheson. Nobody calls him John...ever. They address him as “Ed.” Consider what might happen if you were to top his résumé with his legal name.

The interviewer’s administrative assistant says: “Mr. Matheson is here for his nine o’clock appointment.” She shows him into the office.

The hiring manager, trying to be friendly, steps from behind her desk, extends her hand, and says with a smile: “Nice to meet you, John!”

Just for a moment, Ed freezes. The interviewer can see she’s made a mistake. That’s an awkward way to start an important conversation.

But it never would have happened, if the résumé writer showed his client’s name like this: “John ‘Ed’ Matheson.


Job Titles

Interviewers seek reassurance when they review résumés the first time.
They look a t job titles. Has this person held increasingly responsible positions?

Here are the questions you should ask for each applicable job to capitalize on this great opportunity:

The questions: “Where you hired away for this job? If you were, what was the job title of the person who found you? Do you know how many others that person could have considered for that job?”

How they add value: Your client’s brand was so well established an influential person “stole” him from his previous employer. If your client was sought out for more than one job, the interviewer learns this at once: “This guy has always been good. Look how often people grabbed him for important jobs!”

What it looks like in a résumé:

“Sought out by the CEO specifically to serve as Chief Operating Officer...”

The question: “Did the company create this job specifically for you?”
How it adds value: What a perfect way to prove your client has always mastered new jobs. Even more

important, customers will see him as the “go-to-person” in his field.

What it looks like in a résumé:

“Hired away by the Chair of the Board of Directors to serve as Chief Innovation Officer, a position created for just for me.”

The questions:

How they add value: Just having the phrase “promoted to” shows value. Here, “’promotion” means getting more responsibilities, even if your client didn’t get a raise. Add how competitive the promotions were and you get even more impact.

What it looks like in a résumé:

“Sales Associate, promoted over eight tough competitors to be Senior Account Manager, advanced faster than three other, more senior team members to serve as Sales Manager...”


Just listing responsibilities may not be useful. They don’t necessarily reflect performance. Many of my senior executive clients learned that the hard way. They thought they were hiring someone with “five years’ experience.” Turned out the newcomer had one year’s experience...five times!

Too often, job titles don’t capture the contributions our clients made. We want the official job title in the résumé so when the target organization calls to verify employment, the words will line up. However, we must show responsibilities in full context to deliver impact that connects at once with every reader.

Here’s how such considerations might look in a résumé:

The only executive responsible for every sale in North America for a product completely new to the market. Accountable not just for sales volume, but for marketing and CRM as well.”

Employers want leaders. You can reflect that in two important ways. First, show the number and kind of people who reported to your client. Here’s how that might appear: “Served as direct reporting official for three executives: our COO, CFO, and CIO.”

Almost every employee is a cost center and a profit center. Give the reader the benefit of how well she discharged those responsibilities: “Built, defended, and administered a $50M budget.”

The term “defended” is not lightly chosen here. It means your client proposed his entire budget and then, since resources are usually scarce, had to defend his choice usually all the way up to the C-suite. Even without an example, can you see how the reader will infer performance?

Education, Recent Professional Development, and Certifications

Too often, résumés show only the credential granted and the college attended. In many cases, the impact is lost. Here are the questions that will keep that from holding back your client:

For education

The questions: “If applicable, did you graduate with honors? If so, which ones? How competitive were those designations? Did you attend under a full or a partial scholarship? If you did, how competitive was it to win? Were you working while you earned your degree? Nights and weekends? If so, how many hours a week? Were you carrying a full academic load? Did you pay your own way?” [Student loans don’t count.]

• How they add value: This kind of information reinforces how well your client sets priorities and
solves problems. Remember, every exam, essay, simulation, and case study is a problem solved. Every worthwhile job involves solving problems. Employers don’t care if your client was paid to solve problems or not. Remember, the instructors, most with years of experience and advanced degrees, are paid to certify your client can do the tasks his diploma implies.

• What it looks like in a résumé:

“BS, Electrical Engineering, Atlantic University
- In the top
five percent of graduates designated Summa cum Laude.
- Earned this degree while working 40 hours a week, including nights and weekends,

carrying a full academic load.
- Won competitive partial scholarship and paid the rest of the way myself.”

For professional development

Think of professional development as any formal instruction related to your client’s career field received in any way, in residence or virtually. Don’t leave the impression the résumé is “padded” by including courses taken more than five years ago. A lot can change in five years and it is unlikely your client will remember specifics from a course that long ago.

The questions: “What professional development did you acquire over the last five years? If what you learned isn’t obvious from the name of the course, what were you able to do at the end that you couldn’t do before you attended? Was it competitive to enroll? Who paid for this course?”

How they add value: We in the careers field understand this better than most. Those who invest in their professional development strive to master the latest information.

If you hold any certification in our field, chances are you paid for it yourself. However, some companies are reluctant to invest in training. But they know a trained applicant offers more potential and saves them more money than an untrained job seeker.

Please remember every transitioning military client has had annual training in preventing suicide, violence, sexual harassment, and drug abuse in the workplace. To employers, that can mean fewer potential liabilities.

What it looks like in a résumé:

"Managing Advanced Databases, Truax Seminars, three hours,
- Paid my own way.
- In the top
fifteen percent to pass all the examinations the first time."

For certifications

The questions: “Which certifications do you hold? Who grants each one? Do any have expiration dates? Who paid for the certifications? Did you pass any required examination on the first attempt? What percentage in your career field are certified?” [The granting authority can usually answer that last question.]

• How they add value: Because certifications are independent measures of top quality awarded by an authority in the field, they usually indicate a top performer.

• What it looks like in a résumé:

Enrolled Agent, National Association of Enrolled Agents
- One of only 11,000 enrolled agents in the United States.
- Passed all three portions of the extensive exam the
first time—a rare feat.

My employer funded this certification.

IT Literacy

Consider showing the comfort level with each program. Working knowledge implies general familiarity, comfortable is just what it means, and expert shows your client very capable with the program.

Some clients use proprietary software: something built for a specific organization. In that case, explain what the software does, not what it is called, as few outside the company will recognize the name.

Include social media. Many organizations use them to communicate with employees and companies. Knowing these apps is useful when working with millennials.

The questions: “Which software do you use at home or at work? Please tell me your comfort level with each of them.”

How they add value: Competence in software may be a requirement for some jobs. But even executives need to show they understand these tools so they can lead effectively. It doesn’t matter if your clients use particular apps at home or at work. Proficiency is proficiency.

What it looks like in a résumé:

“Expert in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, Facebook and Instagram; comfortable with Access and LinkedIn; working knowledge of MS Money.”

Language Skills

Too often, we forget the four dimensions in language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and thinking. Capture your clients’ abilities in each of these dimensions for each foreign language they can use.

The question: “Do you have any proficiency in a foreign language?

How it adds value: Ours is a global economy. Having skill with another language means your client has an edge dealing with foreign counterparts or customers. Note the particular value of the ability to think in another language. That goes far beyond memorizing words or verb forms. Someone may “know” German. But he will offend a client if he slips into the informal case when trying to win over a potential customer who was born and raised in Lübeck.

What it looks like in a résumé:

“Read, write, speak, and think with near native fluency in German “Conversational ability to read and speak French”

Validating Your Clients’ Brands

Companies often rely upon references to obtain proofs of our clients’ performance. Too often, references are heard late in the hiring process. Let’s bring the advantage of their endorsements right up front.

The questions: “Do you have any documented, complimentary, recent, specific feedback from any source? From your boss? Your coworkers? Your internal or external ‘customers?’”

How they add value: Just as customers always define a company’s brand, so references can perform the same function very powerfully. Sadly, not many clients have such compliments. And some feedback is so vague it could apply to anybody. The best are recent, come from a reliable source, and are specific. Here’s a recent example from HRH The Prince of Wales:

What it looks like in a résumé:
ohn W. Williams
Washington, DC 200901 – – 202.555.5555

“I am immensely proud to be your Patron.” – HRH, Charles, Prince of Wales

The suggestions I’ve made here do more than add significant power to every résumé you write from now on. Because this phase comes early in your relationship with a new client, it builds their confidence. They can see parts of the indisputable value they bring to the job. They will have confidence in your ability to give them a distinct advantage in winning a great career.

You’ll do more than make your clients more comfortable in the job search. You’ll build their trust in you as they see how quickly you’ve captured all their value.

Finding a job in today’s economy will be tougher than it has been in more than a decade. I was going to say your clients need all the help they can get. Use this approach and they will get all the help
they deserve.

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