by Mark Cummuta

Job Search: Four Ways to Stand Out In Today’s Market – Your Resume

Apr 14, 2010

The 3rd of a four-part series on ways to differentiate yourself as THE candidate employers are seeking. 3) Your Resume

While we may officially be out of a recession here in the US and large-scale layoffs are slowing, last week’s federal Unemployment Report can’t overcome the fact that 17.8 million Americans are under- or unemployed, and four-out-of-ten workers laid off are still out of work after 6 months or longer.  With 8.4 million fewer jobs, that’s a lot of competition, including many individuals with excellent career experience, skills and certifications.

So how can we make our resumes sing our expertise to hiring managers, across the Internet and search engines, so that hiring managers can “hear” us above the chorus of other job seekers and can envision us helping them build their symphony of deliverables?

Over the holidays I watched the famous opera singer Andre Bocelli perform “The Lord’s Prayer” alongside the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Symphony Orchestra. Besides being an amazing performance, what amazed me was how Bocelli’s voice stood out above 470 other very capable artists.

That is exactly what you need to do with your resume!  You need to make your resume sing acappella just as vividly so that your voice stands out from your competitors.

Your Resume Must First Sing The Basics 

To start, a stand-out resume worthy of an acappella opportunity must first sing the basics.

Gayle Howard, an award-winning and certified Master Résumé Writer tweeted her resume basics advice quite succinctly: “Good clean format, direction obvious, contextual achievements (before/after scenarios), no typos/grammar issues, truth.”

Building on Gayle’s points, my top three basic keys to a great resume are:

1. Know your audience(s) and how they read resumes.  For example, recruiters tend to look for humility, while hiring managers look for problem-solvers.

2. Customize your resume for each opportunity.  First, create resume templates for each industry (e.g., defense, financial, retail) and each role/skill class (e.g., CIO/CTO, Applications Development, Practice Mgmt, BPR/Six Sigma/ITIL) you are targeting. These help to create a customized resume for each new job opportunity by starting from the template with the closest fit by industry, role and/or skill, and then integrating keywords, adjectives, descriptions and information gleaned from your company research, including from sites like LinkedIn, GlassDoor, JobNob, Vault, even YouTube.

3. Clearly demonstrate your qualifications with details from your Resume Diary (47% of all resumes are from under- and unqualified candidates).  Don’t hide or obscure your qualifications by lying (read “How B-Schools (and Employers) Catch Resume Liars”), listing dated skills, listing incomplete contact information, writing an autobiography, forgetting that resume appearance and visual appeal counts, or adhering to the one page resume myth.

The biggest mistake most do-it-yourself resume writers make is forgetting what a resume is, and what it is not.  The purpose of your resume is NOT to get you a job.  It’s to get you an interview!

That means your resume needs to be more sales- and marketing-oriented. You need to tease hiring managers with enough facts, figures and demonstrations of consistent success to make them want to learn more about you.

And, you have only five SECONDS to capture their attention!

Professional Parables

With only five seconds to make an impact, you need to employ the principles of storytelling to create a truly memorable resume that both HR and the hiring manager will want to “hear” more of.

To make your career story “soul-wateringly delicious” you need to show growth trajectory, specific business impacts, and highlight hot topics (e.g., security, compliance, BPM) critical to the hiring manager, their firm and their industry.

You also want to tease the hiring manager with a few summarized examples of your persistence in the face of adversity, your successes, and even reveal a bit of humility by including some of your mistakes (and what you learned from them). This will build your career story, so that like a good inspirational story, hiring managers will see you as the solution to their larger problems.

I can already hear your skepticism: how can anyone possibly do all of that in only five seconds?

Come back tomorrow, when I’ll not only show you how to gain the hiring manager’s attention in only five seconds, but also how to put your resume on the top of their “yes” pile!

As always, thank you very much for all of your comments, emails and input!!



Mark Cummuta 

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle (