Top Secrets of the Holistic
by Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP,
author of Top Secret Executive Resumes
It seems no matter how good we have it, we all want a better job.
That means keeping track of job listings, networking, tracking down
leads, analyzing potential employers and scheduling interviews. But
these depend on other people, word of mouth, and the quality and
quantity of job postings available at any given time.
Only your resume gives you total control over how you're perceived
by potential employers. It doesn't have to be a passive job listing
with subjective information on why you think you're a great and
wonderful person (which of course you are).
You need a high-impact career marketing piece that takes full
advantage of the paltry 10-60 seconds of attention most resumes
Perhaps you don't think of you're a very good writer, and just don't
like "writing about yourself." You're not alone: even published
authors and top-flight executives who visit my office tell me they
have trouble writing a decent resume. They also tell me, "My resume
isn't perfect, but I'll explain myself in the interview."
However, you may be the perfect candidate for a position and still
not get the interview, for no other reason than your resume. Resumes
are typically used to exclude people from positions more often then
include them; whomever is left in the 'potential' stack gets called
for an interview.
The bottom-line? What employers want to know from each person
"sitting" on their desk is: What can you do for me? How can you fill
this job effectively? Why should I talk to you?
Use a Profile to Focus on Keywords
Pre-digest your information; boil it down to keywords related to
essential skills and abilities. These can be as basic as sales,
marketing, client relations, target marketing, project management,
budget planning or forecasting.
Once you have these items, group similar words together and list
your level of proficiency, for example:
- Skilled in sales, marketing and new business
development, including full responsibility for
account acquisition and management.
- Proficient in total project management, from
technical staff training to product design,
development and rollout in major national markets.
- Comprehensive experience in finance, accounting
and C-level audits, including strategic planning,
team training, quality control and client relations.
This gives you total control over how you're perceived by employers.
Without this section, you're basically a victim of your work
experience and education, and what if your most recent experience
isn't related to your current career goals?
Consistently Market Your Skills and Abilities
Steer clear of fluff words such as "Self-motivated, hands-on
professional with an excellent track record of..." Let's face it.
The first two items in this sentence could be said about almost
anyone. As for your track record, let the employer decide if it's
excellent by reading about your abilities (on top) and your duties
and accomplishments (under the Employment section).
This can be the most difficult task on any resume, and it has to be
written just right. If it's subjective or contains ideas that can't
be verified through education or experience, then don't include it,
or you'll lose your credibility. Consider getting advice from a
Certified Professional Resume Writer who typically won't charge for
A Title or Objective?
Think of a basic Title or Objective for the top of your resume.
This is typically very brief, just one or two words: SALES /
MARKETING or ACCOUNTING / FINANCE, or something as simple as
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP. Give the reader some idea of where you're
coming from, and generally where you want to go, without blocking
yourself from consideration for other positions.
Employment and Education sections.
Now your writing must consistently verify, support and quantify what
you've stated in your Profile section. Help the reader actually see
you at your last position by spelling out daily duties most relevant
to your career goals. Quantify how many people you supervised or
trained, explain types of clients you work(ed) with, computers
utilized, and most important, results.
What are/were your achievements? Give facts and figures like budget
amounts, how much you've saved the company over how long, awards,
Avoid the ubiquitous "References Available upon Request" at the
bottom of your resume. If employers really want references, they'll
ask you. Consider "CONFIDENTIAL RESUME" at the top of your resume,
and/or stating this in your cover letter. Always respect the
Research the company's brochure, annual report and job
advertisement, if any, and tailor your resume as much as possible to
Although personal networking is the best way to get a job, an
excellent resume can open doors all by itself, and is still required
in many networking situations. Of course, a brief cover letter
should be targeted to the hiring authority whenever possible.
Tell employers what you know about their operation, and why you want
to work specifically for his/her company. Make them feel like
they're the only person getting your resume. Consider this: a resume
that's only slightly more effective than the one you have now could
help you get a job weeks, or even months faster than your old
Resume writing is an art form in itself, and there are few hard and
fast rules. You need a complete, professional job search strategy,
and your resume must be a key part of that strategy. When you
implement these ideas in the next update of your resume, you'll
almost certainly get more interviews.
Seize the day.
Steven Provenzano is a Certified Professional
Resume Writer (CPRW), a Certified Employment Interview Professional
(CEIP) and career coach who runs a thriving business helping people
at all income levels find the job of their dreams. He is the author
of eight career books including Top Secret Resumes & Cover Letters
and Top Secret Executive Resumes, and has more than 20 years in
resume writing and corporate human resources. He has appeared on
CNBC, WGN, ABC/NBC News in Chicago, CLTV and numerous radio
programs. His work and concepts have been featured in The Chicago
Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, the NBEW and Crain's Small
Business. As President of ECS: Executive Career Service, Inc., he
conducts seminars on resume writing and effective career search and
development for major corporations. Mr. Provenzano and his
staff have written more than 4000 resumes for clients worldwide
through their Chicagoland offices and their website: www.Execareers.com. Note:
The author will provide a free resume analysis, send direct to: