Beyond the Basics: Elevating Your Resume to the Next Level

Have you ever been charged with reviewing a pile of monotonous paperwork?

While buried deep underneath your stack, did you experience a moment of realization that you couldn’t recall what you had been reading — for who knows how long?

Zoning out happens to everyone — including recruiters.

Recruiters and hiring managers continually navigate a droning flow of resumes across their desks.

Remaining focused and finding individuals with the necessary skill, motivation, and culture fit is super challenging when everyone is some version of a “Results-driven cross-functional team leader with a history of meeting or exceeding goals.”

Making your mark in today’s competitive landscape requires you to push your resume beyond a good format and quantifiable achievements.

A picture painted with words is resume gold.

Improving your chances of landing a job interview will require you to put the basic formatting in place, sprinkle it with numbers, and then add some color — but not in the conventional sense.

I’m talking about personality.

While a hint of tint will do, coating your resume with literal color can detract from your achievements and look unprofessional.

Instead, animate your document and ease the tedium of resume reviewing by employing evocative language to illustrate your motivation and culture fit in the summary, complementing the skill you demonstrate in your professional experience section.

Once you’ve conformed, you can (and should) break the mold.

The #1 thing hiring managers want to see in your resume is who you are.

Here are some examples of effective resume summaries:

Senior Technical Product Manager Summary
Golf Pro
AI Prompt Engineer (Career Change)

After meeting the basic algorithmic requirements, including a short story about your values, strengths, and inspiration will catapult you to the front of the pack.

Here’s a step-by-step process to help you bring your personality to life with eye-catching, authentic, and meaningful language describing your personal brand (think of it as your “who,” “why,” and “how” — the rest of the resume is all about your “what”).

These six steps will help you generate your resume’s summary section.

  1. Take the free VIA Character Strengths Survey.
  2. Select your top eight results. Write how you leverage each strength in the workplace. How does it impact your colleagues and your workplace as a whole?
  3. Review the job descriptions that interest you and ask yourself, “Which four of these strengths would be most coveted for this role?”
  4. For the four you select, organize your thoughts into several succinct sentences relating your strengths and values to the job descriptions.
  5. Share the job descriptions and your paragraph with trusted colleagues and ask if they feel your words would resonate with hiring managers. Review and revise as needed.
  6. Implement your new paragraph in your summary section (just after the title and before your keywords).

Even if you pay someone else to write your resume, do this exercise and hand it to them to help them better understand who you are.

By developing a unique and genuine summary in a world where everyone else is dishing out the same buzzy clichés, you’ll position yourself as an irresistible candidate for an interview.

Great news! You can also use the statements you generated in Step 1 for your LinkedIn profile and interview elevator pitch (“tell me about yourself”).


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