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Not feeling the love yet this recruiting season?

The resume is the easy bit, right? It’s a description of your job history and responsibilities. A list of your achievements and an insight into your leadership, team building or client relationship skills. Well kind of. If you take it literally. We see many resumes that don’t perform very well on this basis alone, but even more where the author seems to have forgotten (or never understood) that their resume is first and foremost a marketing document. 

Your resume as a marketing plan

Your resume is the document that sets out your stall as a brand. Your individual brand promise is what employers buy into, both on paper but also in reality when they meet you face to face. Get it wrong on your resume and you won’t be feeling the love with interview offers. To create a great resume, you need to treat yourself like a product you’re trying to sell and create your own marketing plan:

Step 1:  Create a brand for yourself; it’s the foundation of your marketing plan and shows off your assets. Without it you (and your potential employer) have no clue about what you can offer them or why they should pick you over everyone else.

Step 2: Identify your target audience. What are their pain points and the problems they need solving? How can you help them to overcome those challenges, and most importantly how can you demonstrate that both on your resume and in person?

Step 3: Identify your route to market. This is marketing jargon for how a company reaches out to its potential customers. What channels are you going to use the most to make sure your target audience get to see your resume at every opportunity. You have so many to choose from now, so make sure you are using a relevant mix across the board:

  • LinkedIn – utilize your contacts and the connections they may have. Your LinkedIn profile is effectively your online resume and job seeking persona. More on using LinkedIn effectively .
  • Job boards – ensure your resume is uploaded (and current) so recruiters can find you. Do an audit of which job boards you are registered on and ensure your details are up to date and visible.
  • Recruiters – are they aware of you? Do they have your current resume and information on what you’re looking for.
  • Social/online – optimize your networks, blogs, websites, social media accounts with the right keywords that reflect your skills, experience and aspirations. You’ve got to get past the search engines first to reach the human beings who are looking to recruit you.


Step 4: Presentation & Packaging. The skill in creating an effective resume is being able to communicate a complex mix of information but in a simple and clear way. Keep the format simple; clashing colors, too much formatting and random irrelevant information that you think shows you as an individual but actually just becomes a way for a recruiter to laugh at you, is not going to help your quest. It can help your resume to stand out but only for the wrong reasons.

  • Use bullets and short paragraphs.
  • Highlight key points by giving them space and expressing them simply, do not be tempted to over use underline, bold or italics, it doesn’t work.
  • Be professional at all times but not stuffy. Write like a human for a human.
  • Check, double and triple check for typos and grammatical errors.
  • Understand most importantly that the recipient of your resume is likely to skim read it for 30 seconds before deciding whether you’re a keeper. First impressions are everything as a result.

Step 5: Market Research. Market research means listening to what your target audience is telling you and creating strategies to respond to their objections, criticisms and needs. Once you’ve created your resume and applied for a few roles, take stock and review what response level you got. What objections and questions came up, is there a pattern emerging? Don’t keep blindly sending out a resume that is clearly not hitting the mark and thinking you just have to wait for someone to sit up and take notice. Make them take notice. Tailor and refine the messaging in your resume in the same way as a marketer continually tweaks their messaging until they find the right combination of brand promise that compels a purchase.


For more advice on creating the perfect resume, read The Accountant’s Definitive Guide  to Building a Successful Resume