What Are You Trying to Sell?

As students hoping to join the workforce one day soon, especially in this economy, we all know the importance of a strong resume. As prospective public relations practitioners, though, the nature of our field of work will place added scrutiny on our ability to communicate our value effectively and concisely on our resumes. I recently came across an article by Kevin Fitzpatrick in the Central Penn Business Journal that I thought shared a fresh way to think about the dreaded resume.

Fitzpatrick describes the resume as “a central point in [one’s] self-marketing campaign.” He goes on to explain that the purpose of a resume is to generate interest in a potential “buyer” (future employer).

“The basic principles of Marketing 101 apply when writing and presenting your resume. You must give the reader a reason to want to find out more. Your resume should position your product- you- in a way that distinguishes you from your competition,” Fitzpatrick explains, with the ultimate goal being a face-to-face interview with the “initial decision maker.”

Although he acknowledges that “there are more opinions than rules for preparing an effective resume,” Fitzpatrick gave some general guidelines to reference when preparing a resume:

  • “You should balance qualitative and, where possible, quantitative attributes. Wherever possible, make an objective presentation of your ‘value’ to demonstrate the return on investment you will bring.”
  • “A well-written, concise resume is an initial indication of your ability to communicate effectively. Use a direct and active style…the resume will be an indication of your writing style, use of grammar, spelling and presentation, all of which may lead the reviewer to draw strong first impressions.”
  • “The resume should effectively use style, underlines and bolding to facilitate a skim of the document.”
  • “Use positive language in describing results,” trying to show wherever possible why or how these results were important. Be prepared to discuss these accomplishments at length.
  • “Selectively highlight your career history but leave no gaps.”
  • Be prepared to discuss your objective or give your elevator speech.

Although we’ve all heard stories about resumes landing in the trash before receiving even a cursory glance, do not forget that the resume is ultimately your ticket to the chance to pursue a brighter future. “Your resume is part of your communication strategy, presenting reasons why you should receive consideration as a strong candidate. A sound strategic approach ensures that the key elements, assets and qualifications you bring are reflected in your resume,” Fitzpatrick reminds us.

2 thoughts on “What Are You Trying to Sell?

  1. How important do you think it is to keep the resume to a single page? I have heard opinions from employers, some saying very important, and others saying it not is important. Some things are tough to leave off of a resume and 2 pages may be needed. What do you think?

  2. The article I referenced in this post urged people to limit their resumes to two pages. This leads me to believe that a resume at a length over one page can be acceptable, especially for adults who have developed extensive career histories and/or accomplishments. That being said, almost everything I have read has said to limit a resume to one page. I limit mine to a page and try to eliminate the need for any further space by finetuning my writing. Personally, I think of a resume as an overview of who you are and the most important/relevant things you've done. I don't think it needs to be more than a page because you can elaborate and further sell yourself during the interview process. Anyone else have any thoughts or advice?

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