When it comes to writing a résumé and cover letter, regardless of the different advice you will get from well-meaning friends, colleagues, and even professional résumé writers, the one truth that never varies is the importance of the hook.
Enticing recruiters, HR personnel, and hiring managers to spend time reviewing your résumé requires you to immediately give them a taste of your greatest attributes. You must whet their appetite ASAP! If your résumé and cover letter fail to “wow!” within the first 30 seconds, it is likely you will not get the interview.
As I was preparing my weekly Résumé Help blog, the very first thing I noticed on this week’s résumé was the lack of a powerful headline and summary statement. I would have to say this is probably the #1 mistake I see.
1. You Need a Strong Headline
Without a strong headline to let readers immediately know what sort of role you are targeting, your résumé will lack the punch necessary to create initial interest.
SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR
VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS
CORPORATE COUNSEL / GENERAL COUNSEL
2. A Branding Statement Can Further Define You
While not all resumes must have a branding statement, the use of a branding statement to further define your strengths and the direction of your career can be helpful. There are two types of branding statements. One type lists different roles you desire or attributes you hold. The other is a brief sentence that defines you.
If your headline is GENERAL COUNSEL, your branding statement immediately below could be:
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ▪ TRADEMARK ▪ ANTI-COUNTERFEITING
If your headline is SENIOR SALES LEADER, the following branding statement might be used:
Top-performing consultative sales executive, consistently meeting or exceeding sales targets.
Quickly letting your audience know what you do, saves them the trouble of having to hunt within your résumé for the answers. As with a magazine advertisement for a Cartier watch or a Mercedes automobile, you want to provide readers with your value immediately.
3. A Powerful Summary is a Must
If you start your résumé right off the bat by listing your professional experience, you forego the opportunity to grab readers with a comprehensive overview of your expertise. The summary allows you to provide information about your hard and soft skills, your career direction, and even brief examples of your accomplishments. It shouldn’t be too lengthy and you should avoid using meaningless words or clichés that you can’t back up with facts.
Hands-on financial executive with strategic vision and diverse industry expertise. Direct financial operations, including budgeting, analysis, forecasting, reporting, and compliance. Team-oriented and dependable, with a proven history of driving bottom line performance. Manage, motivate, and cross-train international staff members. Experienced at raising capital and financing to fund corporate growth. Identify cost reductions and revenue generating opportunities.
4. Your Cover Letter Matters
As with your résumé, your cover letter must generate immediate interest. Typically, a cover letter should begin with powerful information regarding how your core competencies will bring value to the position you are interested in.
As a highly effective and innovative marketing executive with diverse experience in both digital and traditional marketing, I am writing to express my interest in [Name of Position] with [Name of Company]. I have extensive qualifications in the areas of business development, strategic planning, marketing, and operations; and I have successfully led the creation and launch of online programs, resulting in multi-million dollar growth for XYZ Inc.
This sort of lead in makes hiring managers want to learn more. They get excited about your value. A bland opening sentence on your cover letter will not entice the reader to keep going. Draft an enticing cover letter to complement your equally engaging résumé! The two work together.
The more you can do to illustrate your value over your competition, the greater the likelihood that you will be called for an interview. The more interviews you get, the better chance you have of finding your dream job.