Before you even say a word, someone can start to get a picture of who you are by looking at how you are dressed. It’s your personal style. Your resume and cover letter make an equally important first impression on any prospective employer — they’re your professional brand.
What you convey in these important documents is who you are, what you have accomplished and what you want to do — the essence of your professional brand. How you present your professional brand to potential employers can make or break a demand for your services.
Today’s competitive job market demands differentiation, and your resume and cover letter is the written depiction of your professional brand. If it is bland or just like everyone else’s, you won’t have an advantage over your competition.
Add to that the fact that most recruiters only spend about six seconds looking at a resume, according to a 2012 study by The Ladders, and you can see why your resume can’t be anything less than exceptional.
Since your resume and cover letter will be the tools you’ll use to get your foot in the door, using the best resources available to polish your professional brand is a smart move.
Resume-building services can help you strike the perfect balance between optimizing your resume so it gets past an applicant tracking system (software programs that make sure a resume meets the criteria for a particular job) and making sure it jumps to the top of the pile on a hiring manager’s desk. Here’s how.
A Template for Success
Deciding how you package your information is the first step to creating a resume that reflects your professional brand. Your resume format might be the most important element and luckily three traditional formats are suitable for most:
1. Functional: This format that organizes your experience into skill-based categories to highlight accomplishments and the skills most relevant to the job you are applying for. This format may be best if you have worked in many different industries, are switching careers, or have gaps of time in your employment history.
2. Chronological: This format outlines your experience in order from newest (which often includes current role) to oldest. This format helps you demonstrate career advancement and is usually best for people who have spent a large amount of their career in one industry.
3. Hybrid: As the name implies, a combination resume usually features both a summary of qualifications section that highlights skills and achievements relevant to the job as well as a chronological listing of career experience.
You can personalize your resume in many different ways — by using different colors, fonts and point sizes. This is where following the advice of a good professional resume builder can make design and writing worry-free.
LiveCareer’s resume builder offer hundreds of templates to choose from and will reflect your professional brand. These professionally designed templates span a range of designs so you can choose the one that best reflects your story and, most importantly, suits the job for which you are applying. The builder’s suggestions will help you pick a format and template that are appropriate for job you hope to land. You want to stand out — in a good way.
Showcasing YOU—the Unique Fit Hiring Managers Want
Writing your resumes and cover letters is an area where expert guidance can help polish your professional brand. Resume builders offer well-crafted descriptions and keyword-rich phrases that capture your experience. This helps potential employers see the star you are in your summary statement and work history.
Your summary statement — think of this as your professional branding statement — highlights the traits, skills and experience that will make you a valuable employee. This part of your resume should make your unique combination of personality, experience, ambition, and skills the thing that sets you apart from every other applicant.
Your summary statement should be brief and to the point—only a few sentences—and include information from the following three buckets.
1. Who you are as a person: Are you a team player? A natural-born leader? Tell your prospective employers what makes you YOU and how that shapes you as an employee.
2. What qualifies you for the job: Highlight your main skills and capabilities. For example, if you are a spreadsheet wizard, focus on that. If you speak multiple languages, make sure to say so.
3. What your career goals are: Tell employers what you want the next step in your career to be, and why, and explain how the company and job you are applying for fits into that path.
Actions Are Worth a Thousand Words
Professional resume and cover letter services know how to use attention-grabbing language to make sure your resume stands out from the crowd. In particular, they use action verbs to draw focus to the benefits you bring to the table.
They include suggested words to use and skills to mention that highlight your successes at each job you’ve held. And just as important, they help you put in writing what you’ve done in previous roles that would be directly applicable to the job you are trying to get.
Joe Chappell, Managing Director of Global Marketing & Communications for the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants, says your resume should focus on how you have made a difference at your previous jobs.
Chappell adds that your resume should always include metrics and quantify your achievements.
“Don’t tell me you are results-oriented,” he says. “Show me the results.”
In other words, stating the outcome of your achievement shows that “results-oriented” is part of your professional brand. Your resume should tell your unique story by:
· Focusing on the results of your experience to show your potential.
· Emphasizing how specific accomplishments have led to your career advancement.
· Highlighting activities that demonstrate past success, leadership, or expertise.
Resume and cover letter builders are exceptionally good at making the value proposition of YOU crystal clear. They guide you step-by-step through the process of creating a resume and cover letter that gets you noticed. They may use a formula to phrase your career accomplishments, but that formula brings your professional brand into focus.
“Focus on your impact and not just your responsibilities,” Chappell says. “Remember: responsibilities describe the job; your achievements describe you!”