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Archive for the category “Powerful Resumés”

Last Post and Launch of

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 6, 2007) - Flight...

Well this is going to be my final post on the twinpillars site. Starting out here from scratch on my first attempt at blogging less than 12 months ago I had no idea how this was going to turn out. It has been both fun and very rewarding.

I know what busy lives you all lead so I feel truly honoured by the steadily growing number of you who take the time to stop by and read my thoughts here.

Thank you!

I now invite you to join me on the new site smartcareerstrategy – launching this weekend

The focus on the new site will be very similar to what you have become accustomed to here. And all the previous posts will still be accessible there so you can read them again at your leisure.

The new site has already gone live so feel free to check it out at smartcareerstrategy

Over time I plan to add new sections with the aim of offering additional resources as well as the blog. I would welcome any suggestions or requests you may have for resources and additional content that you would like to see there. Why not leave a comment with your thoughts on this?


Thanks heaps to those of you who previously signed up to subscribe to twinpillars. I have not yet worked out how to/whether I can simply transfer your subscription details to the new site and I certainly don’t want to breach privacy. It would be wonderful if you would like to go to smartcareerstrategy and subscribe there from now on.


Take Your Resume From Bland to Bold

Following on from my last post, I am going to give some ideas about how you can use the first few lines of the profile section of your résumé to grab and hold the reader’s attention. Of course, there is no single perfect approach and almost every résumé can benefit from further ‘word smithing’.

These are examples based on real documents of some of my clients and are used with their permission. They have received positive feedback from recruiters and potential employers, and helped the job seeker to get noticed in a competitive market. Some details have been omitted or made generic for privacy reasons.

Example 1


Able to work constructively across all levels and brings stakeholders together to embed sustainability practices and to create unique solutions within business structure and processes.  Is focused on enabling organisations to reap the benefits of operating sustainability.  Industry exposure includes a mix of professional associations (Australian organisation), global not for profit (NFP Organisation) and industry-specific NGOs focused on environmental sustainability.


Inserted this as a separate statement above the paragraph in the Before version

A decisive and energetic leader with deep expertise in the creation of sustainability/CSR strategies.  Achieves traction, and has the grit to take these through to completion. Outcome driven and able to draw threads through complex environments in order to deliver change.

Example 2


A highly experienced senior executive in the banking industry. A results driven innovator with a proven track record of process re-engineering, portfolio management and Basel II solutions. Well known within the Australian and overseas credit models and portfolio analytics community with access to a large network for establishing new departments and liaising with local and overseas banks and regulators. An individual that brings a unique combination of experience, strong technical skills and state of the art operational efficiency


Inserted this instead of the first sentence in the Before version

A pragmatic senior banking industry executive who creates and delivers efficient process without compromising quality and service standards.

Other changes – ‘well known’ was changed to ‘recognised authority’, which the client felt he could justify in an interview and through reference checks. We also changed ‘unique combination’ to ‘rare combination’ to avoid over-claiming.

When it’s working, don’t mess with it too much!

The last two examples could probably still use some tightening up, but they have been very successful in positioning these clients with their target audiences and have been effective in helping them to secure meetings and interviews.

Example 3

An accomplished business leader who has developed a strong reputation for program delivery and project portfolio management in a large complex organisation.

Over xx years within the financial services industry, with a successful track record in leading teams across many parts of Major Bank. He has delivered in senior line and project roles, in Australia, New Zealand and Other Asian Country. He has strong leadership skills in managing large teams and achieving business results.

Client Name holds relevant tertiary professional qualifications including Master Project Director and Advanced Diploma in Project Management.

Example 4

Leadership Qualities

  • Demonstrated leadership founded on earned respect and deeply embedded trust which inspires others to outperform expectations
  • Influences others and engenders personal commitment in areas such as strategic development and execution, and driving commercial outcomes
  • Can quickly address a wide range of issues simultaneously and remain focused and positive in difficult situations
  • Deep experience in senior leadership roles particularly in businesses with integrated value chains exposed to highly cyclical and structurally challenged conditions
  • A relentless drive for business profitability, with a strong financial and commercial background based on analytical rigour and a fundamental knowledge of business drivers, balancing customer and operational needs

It can be challenging to shift the profile like this but it is invariably well worth the time and effort. It usually does not take invention of completely new content. I usually find the key phrases we need somewhere in the rest of the profile, or hidden away in some achievement statements. A conversation with client often brings these to the surface as well.

Prove it!

Parting thought – many people feel a little uncomfortable with this at first. There is a natural desire not to seem like they are ‘big-noting’ themselves. None of us really likes to brag too much.

The test for this, which can give you the confidence to state your claim boldly, is simple:

  1. Make sure that your value proposition is backed by substantial achievements in the first two pages of the resume
  2. Make sure your claims will stand up to a thorough reference check.

30 Second Screening – Will Your Résumé Survive?

Anecdotal evidence consistently suggests that many recruiters and hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds on the first reading. Will a Summary or Profile section help your résumé to cut through?

I hear many opinions both for and against the idea of including a Summary or Profile section at the beginning of a résumé. Some recruiters say they ignore them because they are usually fluffy motherhood statements that add no real substance to the document. In most cases I would agree with that, because the Summary is often a rather bland, generic section containing rather tired over-used résumé-speak.

On the other hand, if well written, the Summary (I personally prefer to call it a Profile) can be a powerful way to get the reader’s attention and differentiate yourself from other candidates. This should help to sustain a high “strike rate” surviving the usually brutally brief first screening.

There is plenty of good material around on what the Summary should include – hard skills, soft skills, range and depth of experience, industry background, key strengths and so forth. No argument with any of that but if you are not careful it can end up looking a bit generic, just like other people with a similar background. All this adds up to a “ho hum” reaction from your target reader and a real possibility that they will assume the rest of the résumé is of limited interest and only skim read it.

So what can you do to grab ‘em and hold ‘em?

The 2-line value proposition

Take a leaf out of the book of professional marketers and develop a crisp, differentiated brand statement that clearly articulates your value proposition in no more than two lines.

Think of well-known brands. Copywriters communicate the core message of the brand and its main attributes instantly. They know that on a billboard, in a magazine advert or on TV, they have only a few seconds – in some cases less than a second – to grab and hold your attention.

What if you took the same approach to the first two lines of your resume?

Take some time to think through what it is that really sets you apart. You may have more material to draw on than you think.

For example:

  • Review 360 degree feedback and performance reviews you have had and look for the positive commentary and strong results
  • Reflect on what your referees will say about your strengths and personality
  • What do you think you are known for (positively of course!) in your organisation and even within your industry?
  • Think through the evidence for how you have delivered value in your career; focus on the most recent 5 years
  • Try to articulate what motivates you deeply; what’s really important to you, professionally

Work on weaving this crucial information into a 2-line statement that clearly indicates how you will add value in a new role and organisation. Be prepared to draft, edit and re-write several times – it’s worth it.

Look out for another post in which I will try to show some examples of bland versus powerful 2-line value propositions.

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