Your cover letter can make or break your job application.

Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover letters can feel like frustrating roadblocks standing between you and the perfect job. Even if your resume is sharp and ready, there remains the dreaded cover letter. Here are some tips to simplify the task.

No Pressure, But…It’s Got to be Good

Love it or hate it, the cover letter is critical to landing that first interview. It should be attention-getting, unique, and give the potential employer at least a little sample of your personality. It needs to be tailored to YOU, what YOU bring to the table. It cannot be a cookie cutter design that is the same for every position applied for, not if you want to get the job! Even though all of this is not new information, achieving that result may still elude you. What will set your letter apart from the rest?Inline image 1

Be Sure to Leave These Out of Your Letter

To get attention for all of the right reasons, don’t include the following items in your cover letter:

  1. Anything that is untrue. It’s not worth it, facts can be checked.
  2. Salary requirements or expectations. Your cover letter is not the time or place for this information.
  3. A totally boring greeting. Do you start your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”? If so, you’re doing it wrong. This shows that you didn’t take your time; you need to do your homework. If there is any way possible, know the name of the person that will be receiving your resume and cover letter.
  4. Explanations for leaving past employment or any negative comments about a current or past employer. Just about any way that you could speak of such things will sound like a justification or excuse. Just avoid this topic on the cover letter.
  5. Desperate pleadings for the job. Of course you are interested, that’s why you are applying. You don’t need to come across as overly grateful for their time. You are worth it and you should come across as such.
  6. Paragraphs that are too long. You don’t want the Employers to skip over your cover letter because it is too time-consuming to read. You should have no more than three sentences in each paragraph that include about 5 lines of text.
  7. Grammar and spelling errors. Enough said.
  8. Boring opening sentences. Don’t repeat the position you are applying for, they know. You need to try starting with something that will get their attention, something different, such as, “I’ve wanted to work in a technology based field for as long as I can remember. I am fascinated by the speed in which things are progressing and I want to be a part of the movement.” Or maybe something like: “Over the past five years with my previous/current employer, I personally increased our average sales by….” Draw their attention and keep it on you.
  9. All of your experience and skills. Your cover letter is not where you want to list details about your skills and experience; your resume will take care of that. Your cover letter should only highlight your background and personality. True, you might still mention skills that make you a good candidate for the position, but you should weave those around displays of your personality and enthusiasm.
  10. Useless personal information. There is such a thing as too much information when it comes to cover letter writing. Don’t feel the need to share personal information or facts not pertaining to the position. You don’t want to make the wrong impression. Don’t give them so much to sift through that they miss out on your most compelling qualifications.

Your cover letter is a key element in the process of applying for employment. Though sometimes it is not required as part of the application process, it is always a great way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. If the option is yours, submit one. What have you got to lose? A well-written cover letter could be the basis for a decision on whether or not to interview you personally. It could make all the difference and put you at a distinct advantage against your fellow applicants. Give them a little sample of who you are. Personalize yourself in their eyes. They are sure to be intrigued as they turn the page and begin to read your resume.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of tiniroma at

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

Over the past ten years, many elements of the resume have changed. That’s not to say that the professional resume hasn’t continually evolved since its creation, which is attributable to Leonardo da Vinci. The resume is a document subject to evolution, just like everything else. With every new piece of technology, an aspect of the resume changes. What exactly is different in the way resumes are written now versus how they were written ten years ago? What does that mean for resumes in the future?

One-does-all vs. One-for-one

One resume used to be enough. You would have one resume crafted, generic in content, listing your previous jobs and responsibilities. Numerous copies of that resume would be printed on expensive resume paper and it was used for every job application. Employers would receive applications from roughly ten people per post and take the time to review each resume. That isn’t the case now. Each job you apply to should have a variation of your resume with no repeats, the exception being applications to the exact position with other companies. However, more than likely, there will be keywords that differ from company to company. With the way resumes are now submitted, electronically, companies might receive hundreds of applications per post. It is easy for employers to weed out applicants with some type of resume-screening software, making keywords necessary. The software will eliminate applicants who don’t meet the keywords, narrowing the applicant pool. Some companies may still review each resume by hand, but customization is still important.

Method of Submission

Resumes have been sent by every method – snail mail, fax, email, donut delivery – and that will probably not change. In the past, you sent your resume by snail mail, waiting to hear back from the hiring manager once they have personally reviewed it. Now, email and online job application submission are the most common method of resume acceptance. Hiring managers typically use a hard-copy of the resume to take notes during the actual interview, which could change with the use of a tablet in the future, but that seems an unlikely progression given the interview environment. Having an online presence is necessary and can increase your chances of being asked to interview. The challenge lies in how you present yourself and through what type of online resource – portfolio, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.

Duties and Accomplishments

Your resume, at one point in your career, was a conglomeration of all your past jobs, the skills you needed for each one, and what duties you performed. However, there is such a thing as too much information. The current practice is to provide all relevant information that pertains to the job you’re applying to. As mentioned earlier, you will accumulate resumes specific to certain types of jobs and may have many versions of the same information. You will also leave out past positions that aren’t relevant, like the very first job you had waiting tables or cashiering.

Leaving out the irrelevant gives you room to expand upon your expertise in your field, including major accomplishments and special training. Highlight what you know best and show the employers what you can do. Minimizing the fluff in your resume will benefit you in the long run because most hiring managers use software to analyze resumes. The software is designed to recognize keywords within the resume and weed out applicants.

Personal Touches

While you should make yourself stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to overshare personal details to your potential new employers. It was common to add personal statements with details like your age, marital status, children, hobbies, religion, or even a photograph. Now, employers really don’t want to see information unless it is directly related to the job – they would actually prefer not to know personal details. Personal details on a resume leave the employer in a tricky situation because they could then be accused of discrimination based on those personal interests, your appearance, or affiliations. Really, the rule of thumb here is: When in doubt, leave it out.

You do want to be unique, but it should be shown through what you can do for that employer. Portfolios, websites, and social media create the whole picture for an employer. We are living in an age of technology where nearly every document can be forged – saying things or having them on your resume isn’t necessarily enough. If you say you can do something, you need to be prepared to demonstrate your talents.

The Only Constant Is Change

Proper grammar and spelling are the only things that will never change when it comes to a professional resume or document. What will resumes look like in our future? There is no guaranteed response to this, but predictions are welcome. Will we move to only using social media, like LinkedIn, as our means of job application and personal representation? It is always possible to move back to a simpler representation of the resume, however unlikely. Looking back through the history of resume evolution, dating back five centuries, it would be unlikely that a professional resume would stop being part of the job application process, but what it will look like is still a bit of a mystery.

Remember, the only constant in this world is change.


By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of
What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at

Resume Plagiarism: The Sordid Side of Executive Job Search

Resume Plagiarism: Avoid the Sordid Side in Your Executive Job Search

What happens when you copy from someone else’s resume (to you and them)? What do employers do to the resume to find the plagiarized content and how does that change your job prospects? Your resume is yours, to an extent, as original content is becoming less original. Read on to learn how you can avoid the appearance of having copied someone else’s resume–and perhaps save your entire job search from sinking.

Note: The quick answer is that no copying is allowed. The longer answer follows.

The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey your background is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. To that end, original content is becoming more difficult to create, even though it remains ethically wrong to directly copy information from another person’s resume or cover letter to claim it as your own.

How Can “They” Tell?

In many companies, the initial recruitment process is automated. Large companies received hundreds or even thousands of applications for any one open position. This means that digital applications or programs are used to sift through the numerous resumes and cover letters searching for keywords and requirements to identify qualified and ineligible applicants. Some job seekers will see that descriptions or skill sets can be easily copied from the hiring company’s website and pasted onto a resume to provide the illusion that the person has the exact set of skills desired for the position. Does strict copy-and-paste help the candidate? Definitely not.

What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at

What happens when you plagiarize someone else’s resume? Don’t even go there.
“Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at

This opens the question: should a plagiarism check be used for resumes and will it actually work? The short answer is yes. Checking applicants through a plagiarism detecting software can show those applicants who are truly worthy applicants and those who are presenting skills they do not have. If the company values the importance of hiring the right person for the job, it would make sense to utilize the plagiarism check on the candidates who make it to the final round of decisions and interviews. Plagiarism, when detected, displays that the candidate is not only willing to lie to the company on the chance of getting a job but also cannot show their own skills properly. Checking for plagiarism eliminates candidates who are dishonest and do not have the skills necessary for the position.

Social Media Protection

With the use of social media sites such as LinkedIn, resume details and profile information can be easily copied and pasted onto a newly created profile. While you can post a Word document or a PDF version of a resume and cover letter, the most commonly copied bits of information are from the actual profile page. Copying from someone’s profile or having your profile information copied is wrong and there are ways to prevent individuals from keeping that information. Plagiarism is plagiarism–not flattery, not enhancing your abilities, and not increasing your chance of being hired.

Keeping your profiles up-to-date can help you attract attention from employers looking from your skill set however, if someone else has copied that information, or you have copied information from someone else, and both profiles appear in the search, it will appear as though both of the profiles are the same. The hiring professional will likely disregard both of the candidates, then, because they will not invest the time to discover who is the original owner of that information.

What do you do in that situation, if someone has copied your profile? First, make sure you are performing regular searches about something that is unique to your experience. Conduct an advanced search with “quoted keywords from your profile.” If you find results aside from yourself, someone has taken your information and posted it to their profile. Make sure you these individuals and call them out on it. Actually call them. Anyone can and will ignore an email, but it is much harder to ignore a phone call. The conversation will probably go a bit like this:

“Hi John. My name is Sam and I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile. It’s actually quite impressive and appears to be, in fact, a direct copy of my own profile.”

There will probably be more questions and a deeper conversation than above. Hopefully, they did not intend to copy your information with wrongful intentions and are now embarrassed that they were caught. Calling them will increase the chance that they will remove those pieces of their profile. However, if that is not the case and they refuse to remove the information, flag/report their profile to alert the authorities of the site and then contact tech support. LinkedIn’s tech support does not respond quickly so it is in your best interest to try to resolve the issue before contacting them.

Plagiarism of this kind is not just stealing or misrepresentation, it also limits the number of contacts the original owner of that information can make. This plagiarism creates a victim with few options to regain their strength.

How to Be Uniquely YOU in Your Resume

You also have to remember that if you use someone else’s resume as your own, there will be differences in experience. While some of your skills and general experiences may line up, not every project or achievement will be the same. Then, you have to realize that if you are doing this, someone else will have the same idea. What happens then, if you and that other person, are submitting the exact same resume, with different names, for the same position? Your resume needs to be a document that is unique to you.

There are guidelines to writing proper resumes that have been published to make it easier for you to craft the document. You can utilize professional resume writers and save yourself the trouble of creating all new content however, you would need to dedicate the time to provide as much unique information as possible.  Generic information or bland words don’t make you stand out on the page. Finding a way to represent yourself in a way that is unique to you and showcase your skills.

Hint: The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey that information is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. If you, as an executive resume writer would, capture the details of your outstanding accomplishments, nobody can claim your unique history, and you have ample discussion material for your interview to prove your unique expertise.

Creating your resume doesn’t have to be a chore or have you worrying about plagiarizing. Do your research to find unique ways to represent your experience. Executive resume writers (such as those of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts) will do this on your behalf, ethically and optimally tuning your resume to your goals.

 By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Cracking the Office Dress Code

Cracking the Office Dress Code: Interviews, Office Wear, and Looking Your Best

Recently, I visited a very professional company. Imagine the reception I would have received if I showed up in jeans! Have you ever felt underdressed and unprepared for your job or your interview? Don’t make this mistake in your job, and certainly don’t make this mistake in your interview.

For great tips on mastering the perfect interview or professional ensemble, take a look at this infographic, which lays it all out for you. Dressing confidently for your job or your job interview can make the difference in the way you present yourself, so knowing the right way to dress professionally can improve your self-presentation, which, of course, can make all the difference in your interview.



No matter the work environment or situation, whether you plan to master the upcoming interview, apply for that recent promotion, or uphold your professional image, T.M.Lewin has a range of men’s shirts, sharp suits, and classic women’s wear for today’s driven workforce.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

How to Take Control of Your Own Executive Job Interview

How to Take Control of Your Executive Job Interview

Why is “What haven’t we asked you that we should have” is so important in your executive job interview?

The job of an interviewer is to meet with prospective executive job candidates, ask detailed, preplanned, and specific questions and decide whether or not this candidate should move on to the next round of interviewing. Throughout your executive job interview, there is one move that you are sure to experience, they will attempt to “rattle your cage,” at least once, possibly more. They won’t push you too far, just far enough. They want to throw you off balance and see how you react under pressure. One of the questions that seems to be designed especially to do this is, “What questions haven’t I asked you?” This can be a make it or break it moment, it is up to you. If you are prepared, this can be your chance to seal the deal and thoroughly impress the interviewer.

How do you plan to take control of your executive job interview? Image courtesy of Ambro at

How do you plan to take control of your executive job interview? Image courtesy of Ambro at

Organize Your Thoughts BEFORE the Interview

·       Be Ready for the Question

Try as we might, it is nearly impossible to be prepared for every single question that will come our way in an interview. But, even so, it is in our best interest to do all that we possibly can. You should practice your answers to the hard questions in front of a trusted friend, or even take video yourself (this is so easy with smartphones!). Watch what you have recorded to be sure that you do not appear to be unprepared. Make sure you appear calm and not flustered or frustrated. Keep your voice steady and remember to smile and not look or act like you are in pain–even though you might be! There will be no surprise element to your executive job interview because you will be prepared–more than half the battle won.

·       No “Cookie-Cutter” Answers: Be Creative!

While it is great to have some practice under your belt and be prepared, be sure that you do not seem to be completely rehearsed. You will need to think outside the box. This can sometimes become easier when you have actually been chatting with the interviewer for a few minutes. You will not be able to preplan that person’s temperament or personality. You may need to tailor your responses to meet what you feel they are looking for to some extent, but remember to be true to who you are. Chances are the interviewer is hoping to discover how quickly you think on your feet without tripping over your own words and thoughts. That’s why thinking creatively along with your preparation will be essential. It would serve you well, as you prepare to spend some time researching unique questions that may be asked during an interview. They may even go so far as to ask questions such as: what book are you currently reading? Your answers to these unexpected questions can really make a difference in the overall impression you leave them with.

·       So, “What haven’t we asked you that we should have?”

As far as an actual example of an answer, try something like, “We have covered a lot already, but I was hoping to expand on my experience with…” If what you bring up leads into a more detailed discussion on your level of experience and qualifications, then that’s a good thing. If not, you can simply conclude with something like, “I, of course, just want to tell you again how excited I am about this position.” That will leave the conversation with a positive conclusion.

What You Already Know…

In summary, keep in mind that for the most part, prospective employers are simply interested in what YOU truly think your strengths are. They would like an idea of how you handle different situations including disappointment or failure. With that said, your interviewer most likely, would like to give you a chance to speak freely about anything that they may have neglected to ask you. Use the opportunity to highlight your skills and accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to accentuate the positive. Your response to that final question will provide them with the information they need to determine whether you can handle high-pressure situations and respond effectively or not, so show them you are capable. If you remember to always think in advance about where your words will lead the discussion, you will be able to effectively focus the interview in the direction you want it to go. Interviews aren’t fun, but with proper planning and preparation you can maintain at least some control and keep the focus on your positive qualifications.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Corporate Culture Fit vs. Personal Values

Corporate Culture Fit vs. Personal Values

Workplace culture is not just about one aspect of the job but also encompasses the environment, the dress, the attitude, goals, and communication of the business. This culture extends beyond the physical building of the business and reaches out to the customers as well as the employees. What if the job is great, but the culture is damaging? The dynamic cultural aspects that can form in the workplace can either be uplifting or damaging. Culture can make or break a job on a personal level. While the job might be perfect for you, you have to consider the culture of the place when making decisions.

Importance of Corporate Culture

Culture strength determines the performance of the organization. As an employee, culture can either drive you to work harder and with more confidence or not. The surrounding environment should be engaging and make you want to come to work every day. From an employer standpoint, a strong, positive culture attracts applicants that are the right fit for the environment. Clearly defined goals, policies, and strong communication all create a workplace that employees want to be involved with.

Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Aspects of Corporate Culture

In short, everything about a place creates the culture. From leadership to communication, every detail matters. If the establishment lacks leadership, has a poor management system, or workplace practices don’t match workplace policies then you might be in a damaging workplace culture situation. Consider the following:

  • Leadership reflects employee performance. The way leaders communicate and interact, what they emphasize, vision, recognition, expectations, decisions, trust, and perception amount to their ability to lead. Making the mission, values, and vision clear shows the signs of an inspiring leader.
  • Management – how the organization is managed – shows how the leadership empowers employees in their decision making and interactions. Great management is consistent. Whether the workplace is tightly managed or allows for flexibility, understanding the management team and fitting in with that structure is essential to blending with the culture.
  • Recruiting, compensation, benefits, recognition, training, etc. that contribute to workplace practices also form the culture. Employees react to proper training and recognition when appropriate to the situation and, hopefully, it is a positive reaction.
  • Established policies such as a dress code, conduct, and internal processes create boundaries and expectations for both employer and employee.
  • A diverse population of both managers and employees allows for many opportunities of communication and collaboration. The culture of the establishment should be instilled in employees as soon as they walk in the door for the first time. They should be able to recognize a well-established management system, strong leadership, and opportunities for improvement from the culture they are welcomed into.
  • The physical environment of the office sets the first impression for employees and clients. Furniture, wall decorations, allocation of space, color, and common area use all display what kind of culture has been established and how it feels.

Reflection of Corporate Culture

What culture exists in your place of work? Not every workplace will have a perfect culture – it is a fluid and evolving entity of every establishment. You need to understand that whether you have the perfect job, you may be in an environment that isn’t perfect for you. Every company tries to have a great, positive, and welcoming culture, but it isn’t always possible. There are methods of “getting things done” that don’t create a healthy culture – threats, insults, and leveraging are all unhealthy ways managers or other employees influence others to complete projects. As an individual employee, you have to determine what kind of culture is acceptable for you to complete work. Do your personal values fall in line with the culture and morals of the company?

Culture can affect you in ways you would never think about until you experience it. The perfect job doesn’t make the perfect environment and everyone reacts to every situation differently. Consider every aspect of the environment before making a commitment to a company and what it would mean to your career to stay if the environment is damaging. A positive environment could give you the opportunity to advance your career and find the position you are passionate about.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Informational interviews can help speed your knowledge of new industries and positions, helping you with your job search.

Informational Interview: Questions and Successful Strategies

Informational Interview: Questions and Successful Strategies

The informational interview… this may be uncharted territory for you. What is it? An informational interview is a meeting where a job seeker searches out advice on their career or the entire industry of a potential workplace; while a currently employed professional learns about the job seeker and determines their potential or fit in that workplace, and by so doing increases their candidate pool for future hires. It can be tricky to get your foot in the door and schedule an Informal Interview with a perspective employer; however it can prove to be time well spent.

Strategies for Requesting the Interview

Requesting the interview may not be as difficult as you originally thought. People generally love to talk about themselves and you need to take advantage of that. Warm them up. Be friendly and inquisitive about what skills they have and what is required to get a foot in the door. Get a conversation going with questions like, how did they get their start in this field and what is an average day like. Then move onto the reason you would like to meet with them. Using phrases such as, “would you be able to help me with this?” may prove to be powerful as most people generally do like to help one another. It is harder to tell someone that you can’t help them, right?

Informational interviews can help speed your knowledge of new industries and positions, helping you with your job search.

Informational interviews can help speed your knowledge of new industries and positions, helping you with your job search.

You should also be prepared to talk about yourself, your experience and goals right from the get go. You never know when they are going to turn the tables and start asking you questions to ensure that it is worth their time to meet with you. Go into this conversation well prepared. This is a great chance to make a positive first impression.

Worthwhile Questions for the Informational Interview

Upon arriving at your Informational Interview, don’t forget to thank the Interviewee again for their willingness to take the time to meet with you. They are doing you a favor; it’s as simple as that. Be gracious and thankful. It wouldn’t hurt to also remind them that you are hoping to gather all the information you can about this industry and career field, remember to be informal.

As the interview begins, don’t forget that time will fly, you won’t have the time to ask all the questions that you have. Try to keep the conversation focused, however, use every minute wisely. As you prepared for this interview you should have organized your questions by priority and importance. Make sure to get at least the most helpful and pressing questions answered first.

Example Informational Interview Questions:

  • How did you become interested in this line of work?
  • How did you get started?
  • What other employment or past experience proved helpful to get into your current position?
  • What are the skills you find to be the most important in this field?
  • What made you choose this particular company?
  • What is your typical day like?
  • What types of responsibilities and duties do you have?
  • What kind of problems do you deal with on a day to day basis?
  • What are the best parts?
  • What are the worst?
  • Approximately what is the range of salary for a similar position?
  • Is the work steady and consistent or does it vary from time to time?
  • What is the most satisfying part of your job? Do you find it fulfilling and challenging?
  • What types of hours or time constraints are involved?
  • What demands are placed on your time outside of the average work week?
  • Is there any flexibility with scheduling, dress, vacation times, etc.?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement and growth? What are your long term goals?
  • What types of opportunities for professional development does the company provide?
  • Does the future of the company look bright?
  • What is the atmosphere like in the company? Is it friendly or cut-throat, etc?
  • What is the average length of time that people stay with this company?
  • Are there incentives for staying long-term?
  • With the information you have about me, what other fields or positions would do you recommend I research further before making a final decision?
  • Do you have any information about possible future job openings?
  • What types of benefits are offered by your company? Is that above or below normal for this industry as far as you are aware?
  • If you could do it all over again, is this still the path that you would take? What would you change?
  • What advice would you give someone looking into this profession or field?

Wrapping Up Your Informational Interview

As you can see, the questions could go on and on. You need to keep them focused on what is important to you. What stage of life are you in? Are you a student just trying to get that first important position right out of college or are you attempting to make a career change years after entering the work force. You know what matters the most to you personally and those are the areas that you need to focus on. Don’t make the mistake of just assuming that the conversation will flow once you are there and then hoping to remember all that was discussed. Be PREPARED with your questions, take notes, and tune in. This type of opportunity doesn’t come around often, make it count. And, of course, don’t forget to follow your informational interview with a kindly worded, heartfelt thank you note!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
What will you do with your extra hour?

10 Things to Do on LinkedIn Right Now, All in Less than 1 Hour

10 Things to Do on LinkedIn Right Now, All in Less than 1 Hour

The shift from daylight savings time is coming up in a week, so why not take advantage and give your job search an extra hour of effort!

Here are 10 easy LinkedIn tips, all of which will not take more than exactly 1 hour of your time in the coming week:

  1. Answer the question “What is my current job search target?” as specifically as you can.
  2. Connect with someone you don’t know personally on LinkedIn, and customize your connection request so they understand exactly why you’ve reached out to them.
  3. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone else.
  4. Call up someone with whom you have not spoken in at least 6 months.
  5. Look on LinkedIn’s job board for interesting positions open right now.
  6. Review several colleagues’ profiles to see what they have been up to.
  7. Join a LinkedIn group and post one question—or comment on someone else’s question.
  8. Take those business cards you collected from your last networking event and connect with each of them on LinkedIn.
  9. Write a long-form blog post and publish it on LinkedIn.
  10. Look at a LinkedIn company page to see when their next industry event or webinar will be held, then make time to participate.


Image by Stuart Miles at

The One Thing Your Resume Has to Convey

The One Thing Your Resume Has to Convey

You probably don’t realize that your resume is a tool to sell yourself. You are the product that companies want to ‘buy’ or invest in. The one thing your resume should bring enlightenment on is you. The document itself is a lot like a marketing brochure. It has more information that a simple calling card, but it is not your complete career record. While not everyone has a background in sales or marketing, you have to think about yourself as the product and your resume as the promotional item.

Represent Yourself

Your ultimate marketing tool is also your first impression to some companies. Your resume needs to show that you are competent in your career and you would be the best candidate for the position. Take the time to reflect on your accomplishments, and failures, to open yourself to the library of expertise. Any one section of your resume should clearly display that you have what it takes. Once you’ve spent the time to think about it, you need to figure out how to turn that into words. Not being able to write your own resume with wonderful results is not a handicap or character flaw. Writing a resume is hard, not everyone can write an effective one. Resume writing is a craft. Looking at your accomplishments objectively is not an easy task. You need to ask the right questions to get the necessary answers and sometimes, the best way to do that is to hire a professional.

Image by Stuart Miles at

Image by Stuart Miles at

Format Your Brochure

It shouldn’t actually look like a brochure, but a clean and well-organized document. The well-organized resume considers the following:

  • Don’t worry about including too many details – keep your resume to a reasonable one-two pages in length. Specifics should come out in your cover letter and during the interview.
  • Order your resume with relevant information. If some of your work experience is not related to the industry you are applying for, you have two options. You can either discard that information from your resume, leaving it up to the interview to bring out any details that might have been relevant, or you can move it to a different section outside of your experience. Personally, I organize the experience by “related/relevant” and “other” while paying attention to length. If you are pushing into three pages, it may be time to cut some details.
  • Education is important but you need to highlight the experience. Most of the positions you will be applying for will want to see the experience base before considering your education level.
  • Don’t list every job, accomplishment, volunteer position, skill, or certification you’ve ever held. Be selective when ordering your resume. Again, this document is not a comprehensive report about your life but a short brochure about what makes you the best person for the job. Accomplishments should take precedence over responsibilities.
  • Skills should be displayed briefly in place of your objective statement.
  • Unique personal details are fun but don’t always belong on your resume.
  • What makes you the best in your field? What unique strengths do you have that no one else does? Use those descriptors instead of an objective statement. Most employers will not spend more than five seconds on a resume containing an objective statement. The reason for that being corporations do not want to hear the things you expect from a job or your intentions of the resume. That should be shown on the document itself.

With all of that in mind, you should also do some research about each company you are considering. Not every position or employer will want the same information brought to the top. Think about what the most important requirement is, for that company, and tailor your resume for that requirement each time.

Market Yourself

Your job, in the creation of your resume, is to focus on your value and skills. Talk about your value, not what you are looking to get out of the deal – that part comes later when you are negotiating your contract. You want something that is memorable – like that cat food commercial you can’t get out of your head. You’re more likely to buy that brand of cat food because you remember it from the commercial than you are any other brand. It works similarly with your resume. If there is something on that document that sets you apart, the employer will remember it.

Overall, your resume has to convey you – your expertise, what sets you apart from the rest, and what makes you their top choice. If you struggle with creating a resume for yourself, there are people who enjoy crafting these types of documents – use them. Hire a professional that you feel confident with in order to create that lasting impression of you to any employer.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Video: The Difference between Bragging and Leveling in Your Executive Job Search

Video: The Difference between Bragging and Leveling in Your Executive Job Search

Amy L. Adler describes how humble people level and braggarts brag. Learn how to use leveling in your job search.

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