Part III – Q&A For Creating An Outstanding Resume

If a job search is on the horizon, you need an outstanding resume to communicate your unique, personal brand.   Our senior resume writer – Staci Collins – held an interactive Q & A session in January to answer members’ resume questions.  This Q & A session is summarized here for your reference…

Q:  How do I mention achievements without bragging?

A: Shift your resume from a responsibility focus to a contribution focus.  Highlight the problems you solved.  Highlight what you delivered.  Provide specific stories that illustrate how you communicate, how you manage, how you network.  Problem-Action-Results.

Q:  I would like to develop and advertise my “Personal Brand”.  What steps should I take? 

A: First you need to identify your brand.  This is a hard thing to do.  One often needs a “mirror” (aka, a coach, an objective counterpart) to do this.  You can start by finding lists of brand adjectives common to the industries/companies you are targeting.  For example, if you are targeting Investment Banking, your brand probably won’t have many “nurturing/caring” adjectives.  But in Health Care?  …maybe…

Q:  How do you effectively tailor your resume for different job descriptions?

A: You need to read job descriptions closely and “parrot” the terminology.  If a company describes Human Resources in terms of Human Capital Management, then use “Human Capital Management.”  You need to tailor your resume for each job you apply to.

Q:  Is a searchable human readable CV stronger than an achievements or role case-based CV in securing an interview?

A: Nothing is stronger than specific achievements.

Career Changers

Q:  How to write the resume highlighting transferable skills for a new industry?

A: If you are talking about contributions and results in your resume, they are frequently transferable when you seek the same function in a new industry. And if  you are seeking a new function, in a new industry, you can bolster your prospects by joining organizations affiliated with the new industry, seeking additional degrees/certifications (e.g., an EMBA) or even volunteering in the new industry to build your credibility and reputation.  This type of career change needs to be considered a transition vs. a quick change.  You need to be thinking 6 months, 1 year, 2 years out to accomplish this type of transition.

Q:  How do I change functions and still maintain my seniority in experience?

A: You usually have to go down a few rungs, unless you have an in-demand, emerging skill.  You can sometimes step down from a larger corporate structure to a mid-sized company or a start-up and preserve your seniority.

Q:  Do I need to define the role I want on my resume?

A: No. Companies care about what you can help them achieve.  They care less about your personal objectives.  You need to signal in your resume how companies should view you and what you can do for them.  “Senior Marketing Manager with a specialty in ABC, certifications in XYZ and a track record for MNOP…” Be specific.

Q:  I want to break into the for-profit world, having been in the non-profit world.  How do I convince the reader that I have what it takes?

A: Speak in terms of contributions and – Quantify. Quantify. Quantify.  Make sure the language you use in your resume is aligned with the language of the industry.  Gain credibility through volunteer work, apprenticeships, internships, certificate programs, etc.  The transition from for-profit to non-profit can be just as difficult.

The higher you reach the bigger and broader view you need to convey.  Career changers in particular need to research the cultures of the companies and industries they target and don a new “identity.”

Stay tuned for another blog post that will provide more answers to your questions about summary vs. objectives statements, explaining employment gaps, and more…  

Staci has over 15 years of experience partnering with managers at all levels to achieve their career objectives. She has worked at Accenture and Ernst & Young in change management, HR, and strategic planning. She received her MBA from the University of California – Haas, and BA from Harvard.

To get personalized advice on your resume from Staci or inquire about Ivy Exec’s resume writing options, please email

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work



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