Your job search toolkit – Part Four: Your Executive Summary . . . reel the reader in.

I was talking with my husband about the theme for the next post and I told him I was going to play with Mark Twain’s quote “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Aerospace engineer spousal unit (introduced in a previous post) then said, “I think it was Albert Einstein who said that.” I thought, yeah, right . . . always looking after your own, but I responded with, “well, I think it’s Twain, but it’s an easy mistake . . . they both look alike.” It seems we were both wrong . . . it was Thomas Edison. I gave the point to spousal unit, though, he came closer.

The point of the quote, though, is that good things never come easily . . . you really need to work at them. As far as your resume is concerned, we’ve talked about having different versions reeling-in-blog-revised1(depending on the position you’re seeking), to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go, making your resume a breathing document, the technical aspects, and the unintended messages your e-mail address may be sending. Today, we’re going to address what could be the most important part of your resume. For me, it’s the first place I really look when assessing candidates, and it could be the last, depending on what I’ve read. It is your professional overview, executive summary . . . whatever you choose to call it. It should be one percent aspiration and ninety-nine percent inspiration. This is your opportunity to reel the reader in. Make the most of it.

First of all, unless you are a recent college graduate, never call it a Professional or Career Objective. “Seeking a position that will utilize my skills in . . .” doesn’t cut it. Of course your objective is to find a job, you’re submitting a resume. This is where paying attention to the position description for the job you are applying to is particularly important. The position description is front and center in my mind when I start reading the introduction. I’m having appetizers with you; make me want to stay around for dinner and dessert.

You have many options on what to call it . . . it can be as simple as choosing one from Column A and one from Column B: column-a-and-b-revised9

Now, you will artfully mold your experience into what the prospective employer needs. Let’s get one thing straight, however, don’t misrepresent. What you’re doing is encapsulating your career into an action-packed paragraph that will leave the reader begging for more. Practical but transcendent. Some may refer to it as personal branding, but one thing to remember is that with tightening corporate budgets, there are fewer people doing the same amount of, if not more, work. It makes sense to have a few different brands; just make it plug and play.

One of the searches I am conducting right now is very targeted and specific as far as what my client needs. I have five or six key qualities or phrases that I am looking for in viable candidates. I call them my primary qualities – the must haves. In the case of this search, I am looking for:

• Communications/public relations
• Media relations
• Bilingual
• Latin America
• Seven to ten years (or more) experience

The secondary qualities include:

• Agency experience
• Team leadership
• Financial Services

If I see a solid combination of these phrases in that opening paragraph, you could be everything I hoped you’d be and, perhaps, more.

My latest favorite resume handles this type of introduction beautifully. The candidate begins the introduction of the resume with a centered, solid cap of what this person is – CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS EXECUTIVE. This particular resume doesn’t use the terms in Column A and B, but this introduction is equally effective because that’s one of the primary qualities I am looking for in a candidate. The candidate then provides a one-paragraph introduction. It contains most of the Primary and Secondary Qualities, but also uses other terms that fill in the picture with additional important information, such as MBA, global, and spokesperson, among others. It’s one paragraph . . . solid, strong, and effective.

What this particular candidate also does immediately following the paragraph is provide a block of bullets under the title “Areas of Expertise.” This person then lists, on four lines, 12 areas of expertise separated by bullets. It looks like this (and the qualities have been made generic to protect the job-seeker):areas-of-expertise-revised

What this candidate has accomplished is to provide a powerful introductory paragraph that contains most of what I have identified as key qualities. Additionally, the section I refer to above brings it all home. I am now engaged in this resume and eager to learn more. I have a great sense of who this person is and what he/she could bring to my client. This professional has reeled me in.

By the way, I asked this candidate if the resume was self-prepared and was told that it was not. There goes the 99% perspiration part but Thomas Edison also said, “there’s a way to do it better – find it.”

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