With the trend toward highly tailored resumes and cover letters, what does it take to stand out and be taken seriously? (#5 in the Series)

Judith Cushman All Posts by Date, Effective Resumes 0 Comments

judith cushman associates career development recruiting resumesAnswer:  What it takes to be seriously considered for a VP Comms position has changed as the jobs have become increasingly important to the leadership team. Bringing the wrong person on board can delay important initiatives by more than a year. That also means that the criteria for evaluating every exchange ranging from how you present yourself initially to how responsive you are to emails and calls is scrutinized. You can be eliminated from consideration for lack of attention, commitment and small errors of judgment. Knowing the bar has been raised challenges a candidate to invest time and attention to every aspect of the hiring process.  Here is #5 in the resume series about current trends that affect how you craft your resume.

What is critical is the ability to communicate an understanding of the issues the organization is tackling and your expertise to meet those challenges. That impression should be made as early as possible. Clearly that implies a standard resume will not be specific enough.  Your resume will need to be reworked to highlight the areas that directly apply to the client’s needs.  This advice makes sense but how can you do that?

If you are working with a recruiting firm that has done its homework, there should be a well-executed job description that describes the challenges to meet and the areas of responsibility the job supervises. The recruiter who wrote the description should be able to provide additional details.  S/he should be appreciative of the attention you are paying to presenting yourself as an outstanding candidate. If that is not how they behave or if they have not done their homework, remember that so you will not work with them particularly if you have the opportunity to retain a search firm.

If detailed material is not available, it is essential to conduct sufficient research to understand the basic business and competitive issues that the organization must address.  That should provide the picture you need to prepare a cover letter and a revised resume that is relevant to the hiring organization.  Of course, you will do your homework about the background of the executives you will be meeting and what they have publicly stated are the goals of the organization.

I would not be rushed by a recruiter to “send me a resume I can send to the client.” I think rushing and not customizing your message will be a waste of your time. Certainly, a basic resume should be available for an interview with a recruiter who can then provide feedback and discuss the position. However, a resume should stand on its own as a statement of your qualifications and not need further explanation to convince a company representative to meet you. Fix it first so you are satisfied that your strengths as they apply to the position are clearly stated. Do not share a general all-purpose resume and then say you will send a new version. First impressions count.

Exploring a new opportunity today is time-consuming and there are no shortcuts to producing quality written communication and preparing for in-person meetings. That means putting aside the time you need to be at your best and looking realistically at the question of fitting these demands into your already demanding schedule. I think that exploring 3 opportunities is about maximum if you are already in a high-level role. That realization should help you prioritize what is most appealing and avoid spinning your wheels.

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