Create an Unsinkable Resume

Alicia Arenas’ recent TalentCulture post, Business Leaders: Go Niche or Go Home resonated!

Arenas says that entrepreneurs must “choose a target market.” Similarly, job seekers must zero in on their target reader, and then laser-focus their words and actions on attracting that audience.

As a resume writer, I only write for careerists who are targeted! And by this, I mean, you know what position you wish to attract with your resume, cover letter, biography, social media profile and the like.  Ideally, the position upon which you are concentrating is one that can be articulated with a title such as, “Marketing Director” or “Accounting Manager” or  “Information Architect,” or some combination thereto.

This position must be a genuine role that companies are, or should, be filling with YOUR type of credentials. Companies must have a present need to invest in folks like YOU who uniquely are qualified to step into vacant shoes–and create traction.

How you begin shaping your value story to appeal to that audience is this:

  • First, think about and get quite familiar with your target audience’s areas of pain – write those down. In an earlier blog post, I listed multiple Internet resources you may access to research companies; you can click HERE to access those. For your assistance, a few of those sites include, and
  • Second, craft a compelling message that shows how you can heal those pain points. Identify performance stories that prove you’ve been there and done that and include not only the basic, “I built a product plan, then built the product, then rolled it into the market in 8 months,” but also illustrate ‘the how’ including your thought processes, leadership idiosyncrasies, and creative way of developing and executing your plan that led to a profitable outcome. Describe your initiatives in great detail initially so that a glistening facet of what makes you UNIQUELY you doesn’t get dulled by ruthless initial self-editing.
  • Edit later, polishing and shining a spotlight on the most interesting and relevant story points that will entice your reader.
  • Next, reread your stories and ensure you are demonstrating business savvy and sensitivity as if you already were working at your desired company. Do this by connecting the dots to show how what you did at your past company helped not only your immediate team reach their goals but also aided the organization as a whole do bigger and better things and ultimately, grew the bottom line.

Funneling these career stories through a filter based on your target market’s (e.g., company’s / industry’s) needs is the only way to clear the clutter and create clarity that captures attention! Otherwise, if you try to build a resume that is all things to all audiences, you will, as Alicia says, “sink your business,” which in this case is, “You, Inc.”

What to Include in Your Executive Career Portfolio

Conveying your executive career story can be daunting, especially as it relates to articulating a value-laden message during job search.

Where do you start? What pieces of the career portfolio puzzle matter most? How do you begin the career gold ‘unearthing’ process, and then where do you display the polished gems to attract the right audience’s attention?

During initial consultations with prospective resume clients, I always zero in on what I call the foundational aspect of their executive message.

Although the gloriously muddied career marketing waters include initiatives like building a Personal Brand, managing your Social Media Footprint, crafting a compelling Profile for a multiplicity of social networking sites such as LinkedIn, VisualCV, BranchOut or BeKnown, or designing your Personal Career Website, the foundational message in all of these venues will appear ‘cracked’ and imperfect if you do not undergo an initial introspective assessment of You Inc.

In my 14 years as a Career Writing Strategist, I have honed a word-wrangling process that starts with your career ‘brain dump’ in order to assemble intimate career details of the goals you have met, the obstacles you have surmounted or avoided and the concrete, verifiable results you can claim. As well, these story details are extended to include the leadership traits you applied and career leadership muscle you bulked up throughout your corporate exercises. This process is the answer to ‘where do you start?’ and ‘how do you begin the career message unearthing process?’

I believe anyone with a desire to take the reins of their career should undergo this unearthing course of action. The reality is, not everyone will feel suited or willing to complete such highly introspective, collaborative methods, but for those who do, they realize substantial gains in their career movement. Clarity of career value and specificity in their target goals becomes a beacon that leads them through career tunnels, doors and across the intimidating abyss of executive career change. Without the movement of change, we start feeling stuck.

In response to ‘what pieces of the career portfolio puzzle matter most?’ and to help you better hone in on the executive communication documents you will need in your arsenal to compete with, and ultimately, out-compete your competitors, I’ll provide a brief overview, below.

Executive Resume (aka, the Foundation): In creating a 2- or 3-page career story, you do want to be succinct, but don’t forget to add depth and breadth. Though the focus in many social media ‘expert’ conversations asserts, be short and cater to the attention-deficit-defined personalities, I defy that assertion when, time over time, a richer, more robust resume message works to differentiate my clients, and their opportunities soar.

Particularly at the executive level, a more layered story is not only important, but also required in order to move to the next level of conversation with C-level executives and board members. They want to know more about you than the bottom-line facts; they yearn for the why and the how you did what you did. Your shades of gray—your personality, values, ethics, integrity and strategic insights—should leap off the page.

Targeted Cover Letter: Although templated letters will fail you, if you are targeted in your approach to your next role, you can craft a highly focused letter that will serve as the foundation for future messages. In addition, a second page of powerful statements at your disposal will add value as you tailor your letter for specific audiences, easing the from-scratch writing process.

Executive Summary: This 1- to 2-page career glimpse should contain the critical highlights of a 2- to 3-page resume and will serve as a briefer version of your more robust story to distribute for particular networking purposes, as a companion to a cover letter, as an introduction piece for a resume or leadership addendum or as part of a media kit.

Robust Leadership Chronicle / Leadership Addendum: This 1- to 3-page standalone document showcases your top career stories or projects in a deep-slice case study format. It is comprised of pithy snapshots focused on achievements stories (challenge, actions, short- and long-term results and your business / leadership strength).  This Chronicle may accompany the resume or the executive summary or may be used as a standalone for a follow-up conversation.

The Chronicle/Addendum is particularly useful in networking venues as it provides a broad, yet specific sense of ability without the complexity of the resume. Some executive recruiters value these ‘deep-slice achievements stories’ to offer client companies.

Executive Biography: This 1- to 2-page narrative story blends nuances of your personal values with career contributions to underscore your value. A plethora of uses include distributing to corporate board members / executives, networking during your job search, leaving behind following an interview … and more.

This conversational document is a business-casual, polished tool that extends your resume value, or, when appropriate, may be used in the place of the resume.

LinkedIn Profile: Your LinkedIn profile isn’t just a mini-me resume (although, achievements from the resume should punctuate your LinkedIn profile to grab hiring decision-makers’ attention!).

Handled effectively, the nuances of the LinkedIn profile vs. Resume content may help catapult your job search to a new level. Many experienced managers, senior managers and executives prowl the LinkedIn network, actively engaging with others to expand their network, to hunt for new talent and to simply build and expand upon professional relationships. Do not miss out on this opportunity to be found!

In today’s economically and integrity-challenged business climate, the vetting process of executive candidates has become fierce. Recruiters, Board Members, Chief Executive Officers and others who will be reviewing your career chronicle need convincing that you not only can get the job done, but you will do so in an ethical way, with attention to corporate culture, sustainability and repeatable performance promises.

Communicate yourself well, and you will fortify your chances of a career search win!

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