If you’re deciding what movie to rent or what to have for lunch, the possible down-side of a poor choice probably doesn’t amount to much. On the other hand, when your job search or career success is at stake, choices become much more critical.
In terms of your resume, that means you must communicate your value-added/ROI (Return on Investment) message to employers clearly, concisely and compellingly. Must, not should. You don’t have the option of throwing something together that gives your work history, firing it off and hoping the receiving employer will discern what a great asset you can be to the company. Won’t happen.
What’s A Value Message?
In a nutshell, it’s what you can do for the prospective employer that no one else can do, will do or does as well as you do. I’m not talking about what I call “in your face arrogance” (aka bragging). I mean providing a resume that makes it clear “quickly and unmistakably” how you can help the employer be successful (or more successful). Its intent is to send a “pick up the phone and call this person ASAP” call to action.
You might think your value should be clear if you simply list the major responsibilities you’ve held, the level you were at in a company, and so on. Unfortunately, that does nothing to distinguish you from the competition you undoubtedly will have. If something can be used to describe not only you but a host of potential other candidates who might have a similar background to yours, it’s not a value message. In short, it’s a job description.
What’s the Difference between a Value Message and a Job Description?
To give an example, here are three items from a sample COO job description provided by SHRM:
- Responsible for driving the company to achieve and surpass sales, profitability, cash flow and business goals and objectives.
- Responsible for the measurement and effectiveness of all processes internal and external. Provides timely, accurate and complete reports on the operating condition of the company.
- Spearhead the development, communication and implementation of effective growth strategies and processes.
How many COOs do you suppose that could describe? Probably thousands!
Now here’s what those items might look like in the resume of a COO who is really on the ball and wants to let potential employers know that:
- Transformed Fairmont Technology operating results from a 5% annual sales increase and less than 6% profit margin to a +10% annual sales increase and a minimum profit margin of 12%.
- Increased the timeliness, accuracy and completeness of operating condition reports by initiating a company-wide revamp of existing processes and measurement of results.
- Laid a solid foundation for 12%-15% growth in a competitive market by spearheading development, communication and implementation of ground-breaking strategies and processes.
Two questions to consider:
1) Which resume version do you think employers would rather read?
2) Which one would you want to use to market yourself if you were seeking a COO position?
Not Aiming for a C-Level Position?
Even if you don’t currently aspire to land a position as a CEO, COO, CFO or any other C-level executive, the above points remain valid. You won’t capture the attention and interest of employers if you submit a “job description” resume. I can almost guarantee it!