Douglas, a technical analyst, came to me with significant experience in a niche market. He sought to transition into an analyst or market-research role. He had developed a two-page résumé that he felt could be improved. After seeing a coworker’s résumé developed by Ladybug Design, he contacted me.
Douglas’ original résumé consisted of a basic list of job duties. His résumé opened with his education, despite not being a recent graduate, followed by his professional experience. In the professional experience section, he listed his duties in bullet points with very little white space to differentiate positions, promotions or priorities.
Given Douglas was entering the market with very specific skills from an organization unique in its industry, it was imperative to present the value of his experience along with the transferability of the functions he had performed.
My discussion with Douglas focused on how he contributed value to his past employers by doing things outside of his duties. I took eight pages of notes and gained the necessary insight to focus his background in the direction needed to secure a target position.
I created a unique design for Douglas’ new résumé, ensuring a clean, modern and technical feel to reinforce his candidacy. To position him properly, I opened his résumé with a Qualifications Summary that reflects the core skills and experience sought by the hiring managers he was trying to attract. Through a brief overview of his background and a list of strengths, Douglas is now promoting how he is qualified for his target positions rather than expecting a hiring manager to figure out how he fits within the organization.
Perhaps most dramatic is the transformation of the Professional Experience section. A never-ending list of bullet points became a prioritized, aesthetically pleasing and engaging presentation of Douglas’ positions and the value he contributed. His new résumé focuses on his key differentiating factors, which were gleaned from our conversation and my probing of key areas where I knew he would have made an impact. This section presents a brief overview of his job, followed by bulleted achievements with bold formatting to highlight the results of his actions. This best practices-based approach ensures the reader can glean as much value as possible during the seven-second screening process.
Douglas’ new résumé does not open with his education section as it did in his original version. Often misunderstood by candidates — but a good point to note — is that rarely can candidates differentiate themselves based on education. Therefore, opening a résumé with an Education section versus a Qualifications Summary is never the best presentation of one’s candidacy. While a degree can be important, remember that hundreds — if not thousands — of candidates possess that same degree. The uniqueness of a candidate is based on the experience he or she has acquired throughout his or her career, however brief. Presenting education as a bonus to that experience is typically the best approach.
Through strategic positioning, prioritization of content and additional exploration of Douglas’ value, he emerged with a strong résumé that differentiates him in a saturated market.
Douglas landed a new position and contacted me saying, “I would just like to drop you a line to thank you for the exceptional résumé and cover letter you developed for me. Your service has helped me land a job with a Fortune 500 company. The product was well worth it and I plan on recommending your service to many of my friends and family in the future.”
View before and after résumés on www.ladybug-design.com/blog.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).