4 Ways to Turn Your Resume Into an Engaging Story!

I'm a marketer, and in laymen’s terms this simply means I help brands tell their stories. These are true stories of course; otherwise I’d be a lawyer. (I kid, I kid.)

So when my colleagues and peers ask me to look over their resume, my approach isn’t the same one as a traditional editor or career counselor; I’m looking for a resume that tells your story and be an excellent representation of your personal brand. There’s a reason why bedtime stories are a thing but no one says “Read me a list of bullets.” Plus, anyone who’s had to review countless resumes will agree that the resumes that make it to the top of the heap are most likely the ones that highlight not only an ability to do the job well, but an ability to communicate their successes and what they uniquely bring to the table.

Here are four tips to help ensure your resume tells your best story:

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  1. Mirror your resume’s style to the style of the employer or industry you’re applying for. One way to subtly communicate that you are a good fit for a particular company’s ethos (and also show that you’ve done some research) is to let it show in your resume. Are you an Art Director looking to work for an offbeat boutique creative agency? I’d recommend ditching the traditional resume with default fonts and opt for a simple, but creative resume that shows your flair. If you’re looking for work in the finance industry (or another conservative trade), it is likely best to stick with a more formal design. (For examples of creative and formal resumes – and everything in between – I recommend Canva!) Note: when submitting resumes to an online portal, it is best to have a plain text resume on hand that Applicant Tracking Systems can easily read.
  2. Find the common thread: If you’re like me, you have experience doing various types of work that don’t seem similar, and you may feel your resume doesn’t tell a linear story. But more often than not, you can find a common thread running through your positions that will help an employer make sense of your journey. For example, I started my career as a nonprofit administrator, shifted to radio and media sales in the private sector, and eventually landed in advertising. At first glance that all seems wildly different, but my common thread is at each position, I was primarily responsible for managing and developing relationships with external clients, (first Board members and funders, then with small businesses and potential advertisers, and currently with advertising clients.)
  3. This is totally the time to brag: It is tempting to copy and paste from the job description document you were likely provided when you started. However, there is likely a chance that other candidates you’re competing with have done the same thing and have similar job descriptions. What reason does an employer have to choose you? For example, instead of saying “I managed social media campaigns on Facebook”, you should tell a story like “I increased social engagement on Facebook for three CPG brands by 14 percent on average.” The latter shows empirical evidence that you not only managed social media campaigns, but that you also managed them well.
  4. Let someone else sing your praises too: Did you impress a client or colleague enough for them to send you a kind email or message? Why not share it? You can work this into your introductory message (versus an outdated objective) or in the cover letter that accompanies your resume. Which one sounds better?
  • “I’m an accounting manager with five years of accounting experience in real estate and marketing industries. I am fully knowledgeable in general accounting, payroll, budgeting, and journal entry preparation. I am also adept at implementing innovative accounting practices and procedures to improve efficiency.”
  • “I’m an accounting manager with five years of accounting experience ranging from payroll and budgeting to journal entry preparation. I was most proud when a client shared, “Brian has patiently addressed every detail and tax break opportunity for our firm for the past three years and I wouldn’t trust anyone else to manage our accounts.”

Of course, if you’ve done all the work to ensure that your resume tells a story but you didn’t a) complete a spelling/grammar check; b) include a list of specific software/platforms you're proficient in (if applicable); c) include your phone number, email address and your city/state... then … you may have wasted your time crafting such a great story! Don’t forget the basics.

Do you have any tips or methods you’ve used to help your resume stand out from the crowd? I’d love to hear them!

This article also appears on LinkedIn. 

Five Ways to Ensure Your PPT Doesn’t Create More Glaze Than Krispy Kreme

It’s happened to all of us. We’re herded into a room with our colleagues to review a presentation on some large unwieldy topic that guarantees you’ll need to awkwardly slide past your neighbor and refill your coffee at least twice. You’re seated in a circular fashion, making discrete rounds of Candy Crush impossible. You hope that the presenter(s) will opt for a live remake of Hamilton but alas, no such luck; you're getting a Power Point. You don’t deserve this and your colleagues don’t either.

So how do we make Power Points and thus the entire world a better place? When it’s your turn to develop the slides, keep these five best practices top of mind. I can’t promise that people will pay attention; but I can promise that somewhere, a tiny rose will grow from concrete. (Maybe not that either.)

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1. Always use at least size 18 point font. Chances are, everyone’s not within a few feet of the screen and anything less than 18 point font is lost to the room. Once people can’t read it, they are no longer paying attention. If there is still significant white space after you’ve entered text, increase the font to make good use of that space.

2. Use graphs, charts and infographics where possible to share information instead of text. It is typically more important for your audience to get the general theme of your post, versus focusing on the particular data points. A chart can show a growth in sales with a few key points pulled out; save the nitty gritty details for the appendix. If you’re a real pro, you should be able to speak to the data versus relying on the slide to provide all the information.

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3. Provide a progress bar directly on the presentation, so that audiences have a general idea of what to expect. When you’re waiting for your train or your flight, the wait seems much more manageable when you know exactly when the train will arrive. This applies in the office as well. Plus, a progress bar tends to induce a collective sense of accomplishment as you complete each section. 

 

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4. In that same vein, do a gut check with your audience every 7-10 minutes. You may not have time for Q&A every 10 minutes, but a quick “Are you all with me? Does this make sense?”, especially when toiling through dry material can go a long way in keeping folks focused.

5. Stand when you present, and where possible, stand close to the screen to create a singular focal point. No one enjoys pinging back and forth between respectfully looking at you in the back of the room while you’re speaking and swiveling their chair back to the screen at the front of the room. Plus, standing helps you to project your voice more and gives your words more authority. 

 

 

Go forth and present! You got this!

My Unspoken Second Job

My Unspoken Second Job

According to the Census Bureau, about 63% of Americans are white, which means that almost 4 out of 10 Americans are not. Yet the advertising industry consistently delivers messaging intended for all, but not representative of all.