*This post first appeared on Brazen Life, a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals.
What do Batman Begins, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and your resume all have in common? A need for context.
Any good movie provides a context, or a frame, for viewers to understand the main character and his actions. The context is not only what motivates the main character and allows him to overcome great obstacles; it’s also how the audience relates to that character’s story.
Batman’s frame is his parents’ death. In The Lord of The Rings, the frame is Frodo and Sam’s friendship, and in Harry Potter, it’s Harry’s status as an outsider. Just like these Hollywood blockbusters, your resume needs context to tell your story, too.
You probably already know your resume has less than 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention. By adding context, you give hiring managers a frame for your experience and accomplishments so they can quickly digest your story.
Often a strong frame can actually shape how potential employers understand your skills and qualifications. So spending a little effort to set the stage is well worth it. And since almost all communication and job applications are online these days, it’s easy to set up your stage.
Take these three simple actions to frame how recruiters and employers will view your story:
1. Show employers you’re more than a name
What’s your desired job title? Writer? Marketing Specialist? Business Analyst?
Whatever it is, add that title behind your name in your email from field. Yes, that’s it. Easy, right?Simply go to your email settings and change your name to something that alludes to the position you want.
For example, if you’re in sales, then you’ll want to send employers emails from John Doe — Sales Leader. Even before the recruiter or hiring manager reads your email, you set an expectation. Right off the bat, you identify yourself as someone who can help them with their sales.
2. Reinforce your brand at the end of your email
Once a hiring manager has read your introductory email, you’ll want to make two things clear. First, make sure your email signature matches your from setting. Then, directly below your name, include a link to your your LinkedIn profile. Make it easy and seamless to find out more information about you.
Of course, your LinkedIn profile should also carry the same context, or frame, to fully take advantage of the branding opportunity. So double-check that your LinkedIn headline matches your email from setting and signature.
There’s a reason all those infomercials run a fake timer to insist you to “call now before time runs out!” Advertisers know they have a limited window of time to get someone to act. When it comes to the job hunt, you’re in the same boat as those informercials.
If you can convince an employer to act — to visit your LinkedIn profile as soon as they finish reading your email — then they’ve already invested more time in you than they do with the average applicant. Once a potential employer takes that step to learn more about you, you increase your chances of them wanting to get to know you better in an interview.
3. Make your resume file name more memorable
Too often, job seekers call their resume file resume.doc. While this may make sense sitting on your personal desktop, a recruiter who receives hundreds of resumes a day won’t feel the same way.
Make it easier for them to remember who you are and what you do. Use the same title you used for your email from setting. For instance,Jonh_Doe_Sales_Leader.doc.
Remember the key is to make sure every time they see your name, it’s associated with what you do. That’s how you start your story. Then, your resume simply unfolds that story.
Now you have a surefire way for employers to view you as a sales professional, IT specialist or project manager before they know anything about you. You’ve created a frame through which they can view your experience. Hey, it works for Hollywood; why not you?
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By now everyone has heard the rule- make sure your resume fits on one page. I have said it myself more times than I can count. One of the most common client questions is about how you can manage to fit you life story onto one page.
The first thing I tell them is- you don't. You don't write your life story that is. A resume is a targeted advertisement with just one goal: to convince the reader that you are the one who can solve their problems. In order to do that, and do it well you need to be concise.
- Bullet points, not paragraphs.
- Soundbites not sentences.
- Strong verbs, not lists of adverbs.
- Kill all your "the"s and "a"s.
But sometimes this advice just doesn't work. Sometimes you'll need more than a page to really sell yourself. No matter how tightly you craft your soundbites, no matter how ruthless you are with the excess adverbs, you are still going to need more space.
It's OK. It happens. Something we resume writers need to do a better job of communicating is that while there are rules in this game, sometimes those rules need to be broken. There are exceptions.
The bottom line is that everyone is unique and their resume (or LinkedIn profile) should reflect that. As long as you are targeting your document directly at a specific job opening and are not including a lot of non-relevant detail, then you'll be fine.
So, should you keep your resume to one page?
Yes, until you shouldn't.
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