A resume is a declaration of intent. It works when it sets you apart and communicates brand you. Write a compelling story about your accomplishments and results and a potential employer and client will call you. Why is this more important than ever?
- Clients and potential employers have less time
- You are competing for attention and mind share
- Living in the moment is fine, but long term memory is better
Your personal brand equity equals the sum of the ideas, images, and emotions that people associate with you and store in their long term memory. That's why blogging is such a great way to build a personal -- and company -- brand. People get to sample the way you think, the way your blog looks and how you make them feel over time. As well, it is important that your voice come through consistently and regularly: just like in advertising.
Tags are ways in which information engages our memory systems. They are building blocks that help us create order out of chaos. Our brain stores information in three main memory buckets: (1) semantic, where it puts facts, concepts and language; (2) episodic, where it puts sensations, emotions and private memories that define the self; (3) procedural, where it puts learned behaviors and sensations of body movement, like driving a car, for example.
This sorting is necessary for the brain to form internal representations of the external world -- like ideas, concepts, and brands. The memories of past experience thus guide our future behavior. Information enters the brain either in a linear and logical sequence (the left brain), or through a scanning and sorting process (the right brain).
Does this mean that to achieve maximum retention you should include a photograph with your resume? Not necessarily; the use of story and narrative satisfies the right brain too. Words have the power to create mental pictures. So what does all this mean for your resume? Here are five ideas that will help you improve your retention rate.
1. Put the story first
Use the top section of your resume to write a profile that summarizes your experience and skills in narrative form. This is counterintuitive, many career counselors generally tell you to keep the content in bulleted format for easy reading. I say that a well-crafted story works to your advantage, is retained better, and provides a forward-looking sense of brand you.
Think of it as the first room a visitor sees in your house, it forms a first impression. Organize it in such a fashion that it will be a good representation of the other rooms, your style, and your attitude.
2. Tell the story again to show how you got there
The most common format for a resume is to put your jobs in reverse chronological order by listing the company name, location, dates you worked there, affiliation information, and title. Under that information, which appeals to the left brain, insert a brief paragraph containing one or two short sentences to summarize your story at that company. This appeals to the right brain.
As you do that for each job, remember to build the progression from one to the other in the readers' mind. You are writing this to show how you have expanded your responsibilities over time. Did you make lateral moves? Flesh out the key learning that provides an advantage to the reader. Think about these summaries as mini chapters in the brand you story.
3. Show me the Money
This means that under each company summary you now have the opportunity to select a few examples of your accomplishments and results. Choose wisely, tailor the content to your audience, and be brief. This information can also appeal to both halves of the brain. The quantitative part will need to be organized in linear fashion: first the challenge, then the result achieved.
Once you've written all the supporting evidence, take a glance at it with soft eyes. What does it look like? Do you see patterns? Does any of the information that should jump at you do so? Then rearrange accordingly.
4. Embed tags in your Content
Now that you have written the story and attached the proof, you can take another look at the words. Are you using the proper key words? Consider the type of industry you want to work in, the function and role you are going for, and begin to hone your language in that direction.
Think of this in the same way you would of a blog post. Who are the people you want to engage in a conversation with? Will the search engines find your post under that topic? Companies and recruiters rely very heavily on key word searches. As you pick your tags, remember that telling truth is also important.
5. Make them do Something
The most important function of tags in your resume is to inspire action. The way your story and supporting evidence read in concert should engage the physical body, real or imagined. Is your story compelling enough? Does the reader want to pick up the phone and call you? Can you really help a company grow?
We're not talking about a video game or a movie shot with a close-up camera, although we have seen attempts at visual resumes on YouTube. The use of metaphor will do just fine. Emotion leads to action and emotion tags are centered on human relationships. Does your resume appeal to the heart as well as the mind and body? Can the reader feel your pain as you solved a crisis through communications, for example?
Just like it is important to build a brand identity to drive market share, you may want to build a brand you identity to drive mind share. If brands have logos and symbols, what should you have? Think of a slogan or a verbal tagline that best describes you and incorporate it in all your conversations and messages about brand you.
This will allow you to become associated with a specific characteristic: the go to person for "x", whatever the attribute you choose. Make you resume work for you by borrowing from your experience with blogging -- use tags to declare your intent. And always incorporate your leaning and feedback (comments) into the next